Scrum Agile Project Management

Modifying the Definition of Done

Having a good Definition of Done (DoD) might be one of the most important technical asset of a Scrum team. This makes the difference between delivering at the end of the sprint fully completed business features or half-baked software. In his blog post “Changing the Definition of Done”, Ken Rubin discusses the situation where a Scrum team might want to change an existing Definition of Done.

Ken Rubin starts with the case of a Scrum team that wanted to remove one check from its Definition of Done, because of technical problems that would have prevented them to deliver any results at the end of the sprint. There might always be some issues that could prevent a Scrum team to respect all the items listed in its Definition of Done. Thus the team could be catch the bad habit of taking shortcuts every time it meet a difficulty and Ken Rubin is against weakening the DoD during the sprint. If the issue isn’t considered a major one, you can always do a sprint review, but you have to fully inform the stakeholder of the items are not fully “done”. There is however no problems to make the DoD stronger if the team can do it without jeopardizing the delivery of software. In all cases, Ken Rubin recommends to change to the Definition of Done between the Scrum sprints.

His conclusion is that “The definition of done is an important list of criterion that a Scrum team uses to determine if the work completed in a sprint meets the proper level of completeness (like potentially shippable). As a rule, don’t weaken your definition of done during a sprint to circumvent an impediment. However, you can strengthen your definition of done during a sprint if doing so doesn’t jeopardize your sprint goal. As a preferred strategy, strengthen your definition of done at sprint boundaries.”

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