Agile Project Management Basics – The Definition Of Done

The Definition of Done relates to the Scrum methodology within agile project management. Here we look at what it means and how it can be applied to all types of projects in order to improve their chances of success.

“Done” is a word that any speaker of the English language is familiar with, but in the Scrum project management framework it has a unique meaning that is essential to helping you complete any type of project to your client’s fullest satisfaction and to the long term benefit of your team’s reputation.

At its most basic, the Definition of Done (DoD) is that the client has documented and agreed that the Acceptance Criteria have been met. Acceptance Criteria include those specific features and/or functionality that the scrum team and the client have agreed will be present in the finished product. Once that is achieved, the team can call their work “done” – that sounds easy but it is not always that simple.

Project management training courses in the agile approach will highlight that there are many stages in between starting a project and it being ‘done’ and these will not always be necessary to communicate to the client. A Scrum team may decide, for example, that they would like to implement a checklist that is examined at the end of each work. In this instance, the checklist is not within the client’s specified acceptance criteria, but nonetheless keeps the scrum team working efficiently in the long run and is part of their own DoD. By having such checklists they can more accurately end up with a completed product that meets the client’s needs.

One of the most important and useful benefits to defining and using your team’s own Definition of Done is that it can help to highlight problems and risks. If every team member has a clear vision of what “done” really means for each specific task, they can ensure that every detail is dealt with at the appropriate stage. This will help to prevent emergencies when a deadline approaches.

A good DoD will begeneric enough that it can be applied across a broad range of projects, but also have the potential for customisation so that it may suit a client’s specific needs and any potential requirement changes. Think of it as a default template that can have individual needs slotted in where they best make sense. Avoid labouring too hard or obsessing over the DoD – it should be clear, concise and easy for everyone to understand and implement.

A Definition of Done that will truly help you project management framework succeed also needs to be possible and achievable. If it includes unrealistic goals or impossible criteria, then your team will get frustrated and discouraged. On the same note, every team member must clearly understand and agreeto the working DoD in order to prevent disagreements and miscommunication amongst the group. A team with one member who is unclear on the DoD will soon find that they are missing key finishing touches on important pieces of work. Prominently displaying a printed copy of the team’s DoD is a common way to ensure that everyone is clearly and consciously thinking about it at each step along the way to completion.

Whilst project management training courses can teach you the basics of agile project management and help you to guide your team to a DoD, it can never do any harm to stay up to date. Sign up for web-based project management training, view the myriad Youtube videos on the topic or meet in person with other professionals who are experienced with the scrum project management framework. The Definition of Done will change the way that your team completes their work, ensure a satisfied client and a help to maintain a positive and successful working environment.