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PM Essence

Definition of Done

- Naveen Nanjundappa, PMP
Definition of Done (DoD) paper presents the structure, composition, attributes of good definition of 'DONE' and how to effectively document the same. “The story is all about Done... Done... Done.!” The Definition of Done (DoD) is important for Agile teams to accurately measure their progress. Clear definition and understanding of this term across stakeholders is absolutely necessary in the Agile way of working. When a team claims the story is 'done', it means the team has completed all the work needed to satisfy that story, and it has become potentially shippable. This implies 'Done' has definitive and measurable activities that contribute to evaluate the progress of the project, for the story during iteration and releases.

The good Done definition also addresses the contextual meaning to various focus groups at individual, team and organizational levels. Standard definition of 'Done' statement that suits all situations in an organization across teams is impossible to create; 'Done' has a contextual reference specific to a team that suits their unique environment andstories. Also the definition addresses not just the functional but also the nonfunctional requirements and standards like usability, performance, capacity and maintainability. The paper also discusses the responsibility and contributions from team, product owner and organization in authoring good definition for the word 'Done'.

The Agile framework's Definition of Done (DoD) has 3 important focus areas; to demonstrate business value delivered to customer, to check the product quality, and follow the software best practices while the team create their DoD list, which in turn will help them develop acceptable user stories every time. DoD should not be a rigid list of items, each user story is different so there is no single fit to the entire DOD list for all user stories and teams. It should simply support the team to finish the user story and be accepted by product owner.
A good DoD is created by a team which has a clear understanding of the acceptance criteria and support from the product owner on every user story. Team brainstorming is one of the best ways to create the DoD list. Steps to create Definition of Done for team is a good takeaway from this paper where it talks about Definition of Done. Checklist creation is never a single time activity; this list is live and updated during the integration planning. Having a visual DOD List as described in the paper also works as information radiator. Apart from being a visual indicator of status of the story, it also serves as motivator and true reflector of team's progress towards the goal.

Reference – Are you really done?
By - Naveen Nanjundappa, PMPC 2012