Definition of Ready in agile

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Apr 15, 2024

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Getting ready means to check all details are available to start work before initiating the actual work. When more than one person is involved in a work the entire team will sit and discuss their readiness to start the task. 

In an agile framework, there are two terms which have got greater importance in the product start-up and release stages; they are Definition of Ready (DoR) and Definition of Done (DoD). In this article, we will talk and focus more on the DoR. 

Here the Product owner will have to prepare and then attach the user stories into the product backlog before being added to the sprint for the take-off. The product backlog consists of user stories that are important and critical at the top. These may be smaller user stories or broken down into smaller user stories. 

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd items at the top of the backlogs are important and critical as they satisfy all the acceptance criteria for taking into a sprint. Whereas, the 23rd or the 24th item of the backlog might be less critical and is prioritized at the bottom of the backlog. Well, all said and done there are requirements and acceptance criteria that have to be met before being sent to sprint, and these are called “Definition of Ready in agile”. This type of model is explained in the diagram below.

Definition of Ready in agile

What is “Definition of Ready”?

The set of agreements that tells that the user stories are ready to be sent to the sprint from the backlog that is ready to begin is called as the “Definition of Ready in agile”. Every user story have a couple of characteristics namely the 

  1. Narrative 
  2. Acceptance criteria. 

A good user story will have the following attributes. Those are called as INVEST Matrix in the scrum world.

  • Independent – The user story must be independent of each other 
  • Negotiable – Ability to be negotiable and not a contract for a specific feature
  • Valuable – Contains a definite value
  • Estimable – The user stories need to be estimated
  • Small – The user stories must not be large but broken down into small pieces
  • Testable – The user stories must be tested so that they have to satisfy these attributes as well.

Now coming back to the Definition of Ready in agile it depends on the team, product owners and contexts.

They can be explained as follows:

  1. The user story must be in a particular User Story format.
  2. The acceptance criteria must be understandable by the team
  3. The product owner and his/her team must make the user story estimable
  4. The user stories must be demonstrable before the stakeholders
  5. The Product Owner and the team must understand the performance criteria.

When all these are satisfied and are put in the product backlog, as shown above, we call this “DoR” and are ready to do the sprint.

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Difference between Definition of Done (DoD) and Definition of Ready (DoR)

1. When a set of agreements are satisfied by the User story and all the necessary tasks are completed it is called the “Definition of Done.” When the set of agreements is satisfied in the Product Backlog and the sprint is good to begin it is called the “DoR.”

2. The DoR is more focused on the user story level attributes and what it takes to plan, prepare the backlog for the ready state to be included in the sprint. Whereas the Definition of Done is focused on the sprint level activities to be done to complete the sprint or the product to be released into the production environment.

Why do we have a Definition of Ready?

When something is done at a product level or project level the “DoR” criteria such as INVEST and attributes such as Clear, Testable and feasible user stories must be defined. 

This is important because the raw user stories are complex, unactionable, contain uncertainties and risks. Before being put in the Product backlog clear planning is necessary, the user stories are lined up with smaller, critical and important user stories that are put at the top of the backlog. 

As you know in computer terms Garbage In, Garbage Out, these mean that the user stories are not made to satisfy the acceptance criteria. The product output is the only garbage and it results in loss of efforts, loss of time, loss of a client, loss of reputation and loss of performance. That is why the “DoR in agile” is very important in agile scrum programming.

What are the items to be considered for “Definition of Ready”?

The items that need to be considered for the “DoR” are the INVEST Matrix, a clear narrative, that is a good user story satisfying the acceptance criteria.

How to create a “Definition of Ready”? and Steps to Create a “Definition of Ready” 

The following things are important for the creation of the “Definition of Ready in agile”

  • The user story must be clear and understandable by the team
  • The user stories must be  broken down into small and critical user stories
  • They must be demonstrable.
  • They must be testable
  • User stories must be feasible
  • User stories must be defined
  • The acceptance criteria must be defined and satisfied
  • Dependencies in the user stories should be clearly defined
  • The development team will size the user stories
  • The user experience artifacts are accepted by the scrum team
  • Performance criteria are defined
  • Scalability is defined
  • Security factors are considered
  • The acceptance criteria accepted by a person must be defined

Benefits of properly structured Definition of Ready in agile 

  • Reduce bad iteration or unnecessary requirements churn
  • Clear, testable and feasible ready state
  • Measure a backlog’s ready state
  • Product backlog will be well thought through enough
  • The product owner and team management with consistent output
  • Accountability within the team
  • To make the correct estimate and make an estimate only when ready

Examples of the Definition of Ready

“DoR” for the User story

The DoR for the user stories is defined in the above section on “How to create DoR”. We do not have to repeat those steps here. However, we need to completely understand what a typical good user story will look like before even writing the user stories. Some of the criteria are, they must meet the minimum requirements such as small, critical, testable, feasible, demonstrable, clear and prioritized in the backlog.

“DoR” for the Sprint

  • Prioritizing the backlog for the sprint
  • No hidden tasks and work
  • All the work and tasks that the sprint team has committed are  included in the backlog
  • All user stories meet the acceptance for the “DoR”
  • The individual tasks and work for the sprint for all the team members are calculated and estimated
  • Full time on a project means calculating the “X hours of efforts per day”

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To sum up, we have outlined what “Definition of Ready in agile” really means and what are its main advantages in this article. It is important, as written to learn the “DoR” as per the agile scrum methodology by the scrum master, development teams and the product owners. 

Enrol for a csm certification and understand how to create “DoR” for any product life cycle. 

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