Has someone ever told you something was done, but when you went to check it out, you found it was only partially done?
Before implementing Scrum in a creative department, we often had new requests that used assets from past projects. I would go look for the project files to find they were never uploaded to the drive, and now the person who worked on it is no longer with the team. I either have to chase down the files or rebuild something from scratch.
Frustrations like these arise when there isn’t a clear definition of what is done for a Scrum team. For Scrum to work effectively, a team must have a clear answer to the following question.
What does it mean for something to be “done” in Scrum?
This answer may evolve over time, but it must always be clear and shared by the whole team. This answer is what Scrum calls the definition of done. This article will cover three essential topics to help your team define done.
The “definition of done” is an element of Scrum that brings clarity about if work is complete. It outlines the criteria for a product backlog item or PBI to be considered “done.” This criterion is broad and flexible enough to be applied to all backlog items, yet concrete and specific enough for it to be clear whether or not it has been met.
Every sprint, the development team produces what’s called an increment. What this is could vary based on your team. For a software development team, an increment is working code ready to be checked in and used by the customer.
If you’re on a creative team using Scrum, it could be the completed visual assets and copy for a marketing strategy. If you are in service design, an increment could be a new element of the user journey ready to be implemented and experienced by customers.
An increment is the work product of the sprint. For the increment to be done means it is ready for action and implemented in the real world. The definition of done is important because we don’t want the marketing team to start running a campaign and discover the assets are in the wrong file format and can’t find them because nobody uploaded them to the right place.
The Scrum Guide provides a helpful and succinct definition.
The Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product.
- The Scrum Guide
There is one definition of done shared by the whole team so that everyone means the same thing when they say something is done. The definition of done should be transparently visible across all involved teams.
For this reason, I think it is best to write the definition of done collaboratively as a team. Each person brings a unique perspective, and writing it together creates a more holistic definition and greater ownership of what you create.
The definition of done should be a specific application of these elements to your work.
Here are two examples of what a definition of done could look like:
Software Development Example
Creative Design Example
Leaning Scrum for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There are many new terms and concepts in Scrum.
Well we’re here to help.