The Agile Tribe

The Definition of Done

on June 27, 2011

Author: Susan Akers et al.

The Definition of Done is an interesting one.  When is Done, actually Done?  While we say that the team including your customer should all agree on the same definition – this can be a challenge.

For example, a developer would probably describe the Definition of Done as “the minimum work that needs to be done to make the piece of code related to the story successfully integrate with the build” or something but how do other members of an Agile team see it?

According to a product owner, it may be “when they get what they have asked for”

For UI designers – and yes, they should be part of the Agile team right from the start.  It may be all about DONE DONE DONE”.

  1. Done – with writing the code and unit testing it
  2. Done –  with having it functional and integration tested…by the tester mainly
  3. Done – with UAT and accepted by the user.

All three DONE states have to be passed and only then is a story DONE. A story card can be broken down into multiple tasks if there are specialist skills to be applied ( i.e. Mainframe build, FE build, UI design) but the card is only DONE when all tasks are DONE, DONE DONE.  We would not write a story card for a UI designer separately…hence it is not relevant to them separately. The UI bit would be a task on one or more of the story cards and the card will not be done till ALL task are DONE and DONE and DONE.

A team may feel it is done when:  “A story is done when we truly believe that we will not have to touch it again”.  Simply – when the team thinks it is finished. This allows for undetected defects pushing it back. Typically, it’s after UAT.

The Agile Academy’s Definition of Done video explains in plain English how the different roles see Done and I would certainly recommend having a look!   Also feel free to share your comments and thoughts with the rest of the Agile Tribe here and on Twitter (@theagiletribe).  So what’s your Definition of Done???  Should it be different for different roles?


One response to “The Definition of Done

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey – I’ve just walked the team through a definition of done workshop.  Was lucky enough to have a great team.  As we walked through what a story card would go through to be ‘done’ we captured what this means for our swimlanes on the wall.   What was “Done” for inprogress.  what was “done” for testing, & signoff.  What was “Done” for “Done”.    I’ve shared this link with the team – thanks for this!

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