The Definition of Ready (DoR) is a critical concept in Scrum that helps teams ensure that backlog items are sufficiently prepared before they are pulled into a sprint for implementation.
It serves as a checklist or set of criteria that must be met for a backlog item to be considered ready to work on. The DoR acts as a tool to foster collaboration, clarity, and shared understanding between the developers and the Product Owner.
Importance of the DoR
The DoR is important as it sets the foundation for a successful sprint by providing clarity, alignment, and efficiency.
When combined with a well-defined DoD, it establishes a robust framework for the team to deliver value and maintain quality throughout the sprint.
The DoR is essential for several reasons
- Clear Expectations: By establishing clear criteria for what constitutes a ready backlog item, the DoR helps the team and the Product Owner have a shared understanding of what needs to be done. It eliminates ambiguity and ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding the expectations for each item.
- Efficiency and Focus: Having a well-defined DoR reduces the risk of starting work on poorly defined or incomplete backlog items. It helps prevent wasteful back-and-forth discussions and minimizes rework by ensuring that items are adequately prepared. This, in turn, improves the team’s efficiency and allows them to focus on delivering value during the sprint.
- Collaboration and Alignment: The DoR encourages collaboration between the developers and the Product Owner. By jointly defining the criteria, the team gains a deeper understanding of the requirements, dependencies, and any prerequisites for each item. This collaboration fosters alignment and increases the chances of delivering the right product features.
Relationship between DoR and Definition of Done
The DoR and the Definition of Done (DoD) are complementary concepts in Scrum.
While the DoR focuses on the readiness of backlog items before they enter a sprint, the DoD defines the criteria for when a backlog item is considered “done” or complete. Both serve as quality assurance measures but with different scopes.
The DoR ensures that backlog items are well-prepared and ready for implementation, while the DoD defines the standards and expectations for a completed item. The DoD is typically applied at the end of the sprint, whereas the DoR is applied at the beginning before backlog items are selected for the sprint.
By having a well-defined DoR and a clear DoD, teams can maintain a consistent and reliable approach to delivering high-quality work. The DoR ensures that items are ready for implementation, while the DoD guarantees that the team has met the necessary quality criteria to consider the work item complete.
Let’s break the DoR down into five key points
When is the DoR created?
The Definition of Ready is typically created and agreed upon during the early stages of a project or initiative. It is established before a backlog item is considered ready to be pulled into a sprint. The DoR acts as a set of criteria that user stories or backlog items must meet before they can be taken up by the developers.
Example: Let’s say your team is about to start a new project or a sprint. Before you begin, the DoR needs to be established. For example, during the Sprint Planning meeting, the team and the Product Owner collaborate to define the criteria that a backlog item must meet to be considered ready. They discuss and agree upon the necessary information, dependencies, and other requirements that need to be in place before the team can start working on a particular item.
The structure of the DoR
The structure of the Definition of Ready may vary depending on the team and the specific needs of the project. However, it generally consists of a checklist or a set of criteria that must be met for a backlog item to be considered ready. Some common elements that can be included in the DoR are:
- A clear description of the user story or backlog item.
- Acceptance criteria that define the expected outcomes or conditions for the item.
- Dependencies or prerequisites that need to be resolved before the item can be worked on.
- Estimates or sizing requirements for the item, ensuring it is appropriately scoped for the sprint.
- Any necessary designs, wireframes, or other relevant documentation.
- Any external approvals or inputs required for the item.
Example of the structure of the DoR
The structure of the DoR can vary depending on your team’s specific needs and project requirements. Here’s an example of a structure for the Definition of Ready:
- Clear Description: Each backlog item should have a clear and concise description that provides a common understanding of what needs to be accomplished. For example, a user story may have a description like “As a user, I want to be able to reset my password.”
- Acceptance Criteria: Clearly defined acceptance criteria are crucial for the team to understand the expected outcomes or conditions for a backlog item. These criteria serve as a basis for determining whether the item is complete and meets the requirements. For instance, the acceptance criteria for the above user story could be “The user should receive an email with a password reset link, and upon clicking the link, they should be able to set a new password.”
- Dependencies or Prerequisites: If there are any dependencies or prerequisites for a backlog item, they should be identified and documented in the DoR. This helps ensure that the team can proceed smoothly without any blockers. For example, a backlog item might have a dependency on an external API being available or on certain data being provided.
- Estimates or Sizing: It’s important to estimate the effort or size of a backlog item to ensure that it fits within the capacity of the team for a sprint. The DoR can include criteria such as having a story point estimate assigned to the item, indicating the relative complexity or effort required.
- Necessary Documentation: Depending on the project, certain items may require specific documentation, wireframes, or designs to provide sufficient context for the developers. The DoR should specify if any additional artifacts are needed for a backlog item.
- External Approvals or Inputs: In some cases, a backlog item might require external approvals or inputs before it can be considered ready. The DoR can include criteria for obtaining those approvals or inputs, such as sign-offs from stakeholders or validation from a regulatory body.
During which meeting is the DoR being created?
The DoR is typically created and refined during the Sprint Planning meeting. This is the meeting where the developers collaborate with the Product Owner to discuss and select backlog items for the upcoming sprint. During this meeting, the team and the Product Owner work together to clarify and define the DoR for each item.
Who is responsible for creating the DoR?
Creating the Definition of Ready is a collaborative effort between the developers and the Product Owner. The developers, with their technical expertise, provide input on what is needed to ensure that a backlog item is ready for implementation.
The Product Owner, being responsible for the product vision and requirements, provides information and clarifications regarding the backlog items. The Scrum Master facilitates the process and ensures that the DoR is well understood and agreed upon by the team.
When and how is the DoR used?
The Definition of Ready is used as a guideline to determine whether a backlog item is ready to be pulled into a sprint. Before the Sprint Planning meeting, the team and the Product Owner review the backlog items and assess whether they meet the DoR.
If an item does not meet the criteria, it is not considered ready, and the team may request additional information or clarification from the Product Owner. By using the DoR, the team can ensure that they have a clear understanding of what needs to be done before starting work on a backlog item, thereby reducing uncertainty and improving the overall efficiency of the sprint.
In conclusion, the Definition of Ready (DoR) is a valuable tool in Scrum that ensures backlog items are adequately prepared before they are taken up by the developers.
By defining clear criteria for readiness, the DoR promotes collaboration, clarity, and shared understanding between the team and the Product Owner. It helps establish clear expectations, improves efficiency, and fosters alignment.
The DoR works hand in hand with the Definition of Done (DoD), which defines the criteria for when a backlog item is considered complete.
Together, these concepts create a solid framework for delivering high-quality work within the Scrum framework.
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The DoR is important as it sets clear criteria for backlog items, ensuring they are well-prepared and reducing ambiguity, which leads to more efficient and focused work.
The DoR is collaboratively created by the developers and the Product Owner, leveraging their expertise and fostering alignment.
The DoR is established and refined during the Sprint Planning meeting, where the team and the Product Owner discuss and agree upon the criteria for ready backlog items.
If a backlog item doesn’t meet the DoR criteria, the team may request additional information or clarification from the Product Owner to ensure it is ready before starting work on it.
While the DoR focuses on the readiness of backlog items before they enter a sprint, the DoD defines the criteria for when a backlog item is considered “done” or complete, providing quality assurance measures at different stages of the sprint.