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5 things most people don’t know about the Definition of “Done”

Definition of Done

In this blog I will share with you 5 things most people don’t know about the Definition of “Done”

Let’s say at the end of a dinner party at your home you and a friend are cleaning the dishes. What are the steps you will do to ensure that all dishes are clean? You might say what’s the big deal? I know when my dishes are clean. “Dishes put away”. For your friend who is helping you, they might need a list of steps so they ensure that they do all the steps to complete cleaning the dishes. So let’s say you have a list like the one below

“Collect dirty dishes from the party room”

“Throw out any remaining food still on the dish in the garbage”



“Ensure it’s clean”

“Arrange dishes in the kitchen drawer”

Now anytime you get some friends helping you with dishes, using the criteria they all have a shared understanding of what cleaning dishes means at your house. The checklist takes away all the assumptions from your friends. Furthermore, we follow a uniform cleaning procedure for all dishes in order to ensure quality.


The more specific the criteria become, the better the quality of the product.

The “Definition of Done” is a list of criteria that a product feature (Product Backlog Item) meets before it is complete. It is a commitment for the deliverable or product increment in Scrum

The Scrum Team is constantly refining our “Definition of Done” so that it is more specific and measurable

It covers all aspects of the feature, including design, development, testing, documentation, and deployment. It also includes any required approvals or sign-offs from stakeholders.

As a Scrum Trainer, I have been teaching the definition of done in my Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO®) workshops and I have learned several invaluable lessons from my students.

Here are 5 things that most people may not know about the "Definition of Done":

  1. The team refers to the Definition of “Done” to plan in Sprint Planning and the Daily Scrum
  2. Initially the Definition of “Done” might be weak with a small number of items. Over time, the team continuously refines the Definition of “Done” at the Sprint Retrospective to make it stronger.
  3. The Definition of “Done” is different from Acceptance Criteria because “Done” doesn’t change from one product backlog item (feature) to the next, while the Acceptance Criteria is written specifically and uniquely for each individual feature or User Story. It has a formal Scrum definition, whereas User Stories or Acceptance Criteria are not part of the Scrum Guide.
  4. Multiple Teams working on the same product share the same Definition of “Done”. Imagine this you visit a public bathroom. Your expectation is that it will be clean. In good establishments it is true. This is because there is a checklist that the cleaning crew maintains back of the door of the bathroom. Every morning a cleaning crew comes in and uses the checklist to clean the bathroom and then checks every item and adds their signature. In the evening a new cleaning crew comes in and uses the same checklist, notes down the time, cleans the bathroom and checks every item completed and adds their signature.
  5. The team shares the “Definition of Done” with all stakeholders, including the development team, the product owner, and any external customers or partners. Everyone has a clear understanding of expectations from the product.

Examples of Definition of "Done"

Definition of Done for Software development

  • Implemented according to the design specification.
  • Ran Unit Tests
  • Acceptance Tested and all known defects fixed
  • Performance Tested and all known defects fixed
  • Updated code documentation and user documentation
  • Reviewed and approved by the product owner.
  • Deployed to a staging environment and tested in that environment.
  • Demonstrated to and accepted by the customer.
  • Training materials created and shared with relevant parties.
  • Sign-offs or approvals obtained.


Definition of Done for Marketing

  • Grammar check
  • Spelling check
  • Style check
  • Graphic size check
  • Company colors used
  • SEO check
  • Proofread all text
  • Acceptance criteria met
  • Obtained Required sign-offs or approvals


Keep in mind that the “Definition of Done” will vary depending on the specific project and team. It is important to tailor the “Definition of Done” to the needs of the project and the stakeholders involved.

In summary, the “Definition of Done” is an important tool in Scrum to ensure a high level of quality.  It helps teams to stay focused and deliver value to their customers more efficiently.

Scrum, Product Management, and DevOps: Simplifying the jargon

The internet and social media are full of Agile, Scrum, Product Management, and DevOps jargon, including incorrect and misunderstood concepts. This could be problematic for a learner seeking knowledge. Without a course with Scrum Alliance,, or DevOps Institute, this knowledge is difficult to achieve.

The Concepts & Beyond blog is a free suite of articles and videos packaged in tiny chunks. You will learn or refine your knowledge and skills to help your team and organization be effective. When you want to take your knowledge further, we invite you to join us for our  Certified ScrumMaster(CSM),  Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified DevOps Engineering Foundations (DOEF) and Training from the Back of The Room courses across the USA and Canada.

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