Creating the first Definition of Done and Definition of Ready with local and remote participants

Creating the first Definition of Done and Definition of Ready with local and remote participants

The past week with a team I recently started to work with we wanted to define our first DoD and DoR, since is a new project and we are doing everything new it seems a good idea to have as soon as we can our DoD and DoR

Within our team (Agile Coaches) we document all workshops we do, so they can be reused, therefore I wanted to create a format for defining DoD and DoR, but I did not want to go to google and search an existing one, to be honest I like to create my own workshops, and I like it because stimulates my creativity a lot.

This does not mean I didn’t do some research to know what is being highlighted when it comes to preparing those workshops, also my colleague Marcus Tannerflak shared with me an interesting link about 4 Failures patterns of DoD, so I took my findings and the 4 failures patterns and I combined them into my workshop.

The preparation took me some time, the fact that we would have remote participants made me think a lot because I wanted them to feel as much as integrated into the workshop as possible.

The different static sheets will be represented in my own drawings:

What do you need?

Static sheet for every participant.

In this one, as you see we have to areas, the left one is where the participant will place the post-its for DoD and the right side is where they will place the DoR ones.

Share with the team a static sheet where we will place the 4 failure patterns.

1. List Overload/Wrong Things

This is a long road.

2. Inconsistently Applied

Here we are building something not consistent.

3. Set the Bar Excessively Low

Too easy, right?

4. Poorly/Manually Tracked

How is the team doing with DoD?

Static sheet where we will place some of the benefits of having a DoD, just the big picture, easy to understand the why of DoD.


I think they are quite self-explanatory, but just in case I will explain each one quickly.

The first one means that by having a DoD we will be getting feedback from the definition, imagine we did not manage to deliver an entire done for certain features, this is already feedback and we will use it to improve our process.

The second one means value, by having a DoD we will make sure that we deliver good working software.

The third one means that by having the DoD we will be reducing risks, when something “Done” is delivered and released we have high chances that won’t cause problems.

And the last, basically the DoD makes as to be Agile, to be able to inspect and adapt to continuously improve, and something important! helps with the transparency.

Static sheet for the final DoD

Climbing a mountain is not easy, and after hours of hiking once we reach the top we will feel very realized, very happy, the job is Done!

Static sheet for the final DoR

It is an airplane because there is a very strict DoR before the plane departs to a destination, each cloud is there to be filled with the different criteria of the DoR.

Enough post-its and pens

How do we move forward with the workshop?

I started asking the team if they knew what was the DoR and DoD, why they were needed and why they are important. We had some chats about it, and after like 5 or 10 minutes I started to explain with the picture you see in the preparation section “Static sheet where we will place some of the benefits of having a DoD, just the big picture, easy to understand the why of DoD.”

Again, the titles are self-explanatory, I’m pretty sure you understand what they mean, but if you don’t I’ll be glad to clarify!

Right after it, I jumped to the DoR; why? Because in order to get the benefits of the DoR we need to make sure that everything we start working on, is ready to be started working on!

I think this is just common sense, right? If we want to be able to deliver value to the end user, to the customer, reduce risks, reduce frustrations… we need to make sure that once we start to work in something we have all that we need.

After spending some time talking about the definitions the team is ready to take some action, this should be time-boxed, and here is where with the remote participants we will have some difficulties, but I will explain to you how I managed those the difficulties.

We started with the DoR, each team member had X(you decide how much you need) time where they had to write in post-its which DoR they think makes sense, individually, and with a maximum of 20 post-its, I know that 20 can be a lot, but I have seen DoR and DoD of like 40 criteria, and I think that we should start with something small, and evolve and improve in every iteration.

My goal in this workshop is to have a maximum of 10 criteria for each definition as the starting point, might be too much or too few, will see!

While the physical team was writing, the remote people were writing me in private, I was their representation in my location, in this case, only 2 people were participating remote, I don’t know if I could manage more than 3 or 4.

After the time was over we stopped, and right away we started with the DoD, the reason of why I did not want to already create the final DoR is because 2 things.

1 – Discussions take time and as it was my first time with this workshop I wanted to make sure we would finish.

2 – While adding post-its for DoD it could be that a team member wants to change something in the DoR.

With all DoD and DoR post-its ready we should start clustering, making groups of the similar criteria’s, because after all the groups of criteria’s were formed each team member had to vote the most importants/relevants, depending on how many groups you get you will give the team members more votes or fewer votes.


I had to help here again the people that were remote, first of all, I had to take pictures of all groups of DoD and DoR and send them by email so they could see them properly before voting, they were telling me in Slack every single vote they wanted to give.

After all this work, the most voted ideas for DoD and DoR were ready to be discussed understanding why they were important, was the time to fill up our mountain steps and our clouds.

One important thing here is that I don’t think we should go crazy trying to find the best DoD and DoR ever! If we don’t fill up all clouds and mountain steps we should not worry about it, if the team needs more criteria’s I’m sure they will find out and will be added to the definitions.

We should be relatively quick defining our first version, a version that we will review quite often as the context and circumstances might change.

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Marcos Pacheco


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