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Definition of ready

November 14, 2011

What is that?

Definition of Ready (DoR) is the sum of conditions under which User Stories (US), Product Backlog (PB) or Sprint Backlog (SB), must be so that the team can start the work.

Definition of Ready  is also known as Readiness Criteria.

Let me explain with an example :)


Imagine my team noticed we missed our sprint goal due to 2 reasons:

  •   Some committed US were really important but they were not yet clearly defined
  •   Our SB had some weaknesses : hidden tasks and we committed to more than we actually could deliver.

Because we are a proactive team and we want to improve(imagine that :) ), we decided that we should do something about this. So during retrospective we defined a list of conditions for the US to eb allowed to get into our SB. Along with that, we also defined some conditions for our SB to be considered ready for us to start a sprint with it.

Our readiness Criteria for User stories was:

  1.  US is defined (The PO clearly knows what he wants and added it to PB as a PBItem)
  2.  US acceptance criteria is defined
  3.   US dependencies defined
  4.   Conditions of Satisfaction defined
  5.   Team knows how to test
  6.   Team knows how to DEMO

This meant that we could only commit to US following those 6 conditions.

For our Sprint Backlog we defined :

DOR for SB:

  1.   SB contains all work the team is doing- incl. maintenance and big meetings
  2.   No hidden work – if we know we need to do it we write it down (even while Sprint is going on)
  3.   We commit only to US that meet the DoR we defined
  4.   We know our Team capacity before committing
  5.   We consider our velocity before commitment

So, if our Sprint backlog does not commit to these 5 conditions, we can’t say we are done with planning, nor we can start the Sprint.

Who defines DoR?

Scrum Teams define DoR.
Scrum team = PO+ Dev Team + Scrum Master.

In the SB case we could do this without asking for PO opinion, has this is related to Dev. Team self- management and self- organization :).

But regarding US or PB is really a must to do this with PO. Else we’ll keep on failing this conditions, failing our goals and undermining our relationship.


If, in a first approach, you don’t know how to define your US DoR, use Bill Wake’ INVEST technique.

US readiness criteria:
*I* ndependent – does not depend on other items
*N* egotiable – simpler definition (or acceptance) can arise from conversations, and that is acceptable
*V* aluable – to users or customers
*E* stimation – it can be estimated
*S* mall – can meet DoD in less than a 1/3 of sprint by the team working together
*T* estable – acceptance tests are clear and can be automated


From → Agile

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