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Definition of Done

Derek Huether
Reading: Definition of Done

Is it done, is it done done, or is it done done done?

If you’re in the business of application development, you’ve asked that question before.  So what is the definition of done? When asking the question, it’s important to note who you are and your level in the organization. Delivery teams, program teams, and portfolio teams define done differently. What we know for sure, is that we need a clear definition of done at each level of the organization.

Definition of Done

The definition of done (DoD) is when all conditions, or acceptance criteria, that a software product must satisfy are met and ready to be accepted by a user, customer, team, or consuming system.  We must meet the definition of done to ensure quality.  It lowers rework, by preventing user stories that don’t meet the definition from being promoted to higher level environments. It will prevent features that don’t meet the definition from being delivered to the customer or user.

User Stories

The most common use of  DoD is on the delivery team level.  Done on this level means the Product Owner reviewed and accepted the user story. Once accepted, the “done” user story will  contribute to the team velocity.  You must meet all of the defined criteria or the user story isn’t done.

User Story DoD Examples:

  • Unit tests passed
  • Code reviewed
  • Acceptance criteria met
  • Functional tests passed
  • Non-Functional requirements met
  • Product Owner accepts the User Story


Done on this level may mean it qualifies to add to a release.  Not all user stories need to be completed. Rather, it means the feature may be sufficient to satisfy the need. Once accepted, the done feature will contribute to the release velocity.  Again, you must meet all of the defined criteria or the feature isn’t done.

Feature DoD Examples:

  • Acceptance criteria met
  • Integrated into a clean build
  • Promoted to higher level environment
  • Automated regression tests pass
  • Feature level functional tests passed
  • Non-Functional requirements met
  • Meets compliance requirements
  • Functionality documented in necessary user user documentation


Done on this level may refer to a organizational strategic priority, portfolio plan item, or some other collection of features that satisfied a market need.  Not all user stories or features need to be completed. Rather, the epic may be sufficient to satisfy the need. Once accepted, the done epic will contribute to throughput calculations to see if the supply is in balance with demand.

Epic DoD Examples:

  • Non-Functional requirements met
  • End-to-end integration completed
  • Regression tests pass
  • Promoted to production environment
  • Meets defined market expectations


Just as the definition of ready is super important, so is the definition of done.  Never start work on something until you have agreed on the definition.  Be consistent. Be clear. Have a shared understanding.

Next Student QA: Design on the Scrum Team & Multiple Roles w/ Derek Huether

VP of ALM Platforms; Advisor on #Productivity #Metrics & Tools | Improver of things | Author: Zombie Project Management | Speaker | Podcaster | Always drinking #coffee or #running

Comments (7)

  1. Amit J Bhattacharyya

    Thanks Derek for this neat and crisp compilation on DoD.
    I just have seen from experience that a number of times the user story DoD and the features DoD really overlaps or coincides in real life.

    I totally appreciate the segregation here and would agree that the last 2 points of features DoD is quite exclusive. But I have seen that in the scrum lifecycle of a user story or stories if “Automated regression tests pass” was -ve then QA teams would not approve it and raise issues against it and then it is not able to proceed to the Product Owner and other stakeholders for the Done assessment itself.

    The other one I have seen, being a part of necessities for user story DoD is “Integrated into a clean build”. As without that, the development team will not be able to pass the hurdle to prove that delivered story is really releasable which then in turns hurts it’s efforts to earn the credibility of done.

    Would love to know your thoughts and yes definitely :) I will be sharing this good post on twitter.

  2. Zeeshan Siddiqui

    Should ‘No open Critical/High Severity defects’ be included in DoD?

    • Derek Huether

      Absolutely, I agree it should. I don’t specifically call it out, but I believe that should be part of the fundamental acceptance criteria. Quality should be a core consideration.

    • Faaz Ahmad Khan

      When we add the point ‘Functional tests passed’ or ‘Feature level functional tests passed’ in DoD then doesn’t it implicitly enforce that there are ‘No open Critical/High Severity defects’?

      • David Murphy

        It does, but sometimes it’s worth being explicit.

  3. Gayathri Nimmakayala

    How elaborate do you think the DoD should be ? There is a chance it can end up looking like a to-do list . Where do we draw the line ?

    • David Murphy

      For me, DoD should be a max of 10 items and probably more like 7. More than that then people won’t bother or will lose the will to live.


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