You’re a project manager, and your team is about to embark on their next sprint. But are the tasks ready for your team to work on?
To determine this, you'll need a Definition of Ready (DoR), which is vital in Agile project management. This ensures your team can effectively tackle the task. It can also help your team with backlog refinement.
On this page, we'll break down the Definition of Ready in Scrum and Agile approaches and explain how you can gauge if a task meets its criteria.
Understanding Definition of Ready
A Definition of Ready (DoR) allows you to evaluate work before your team starts on it. It defines a task, user story, or story point for your team. If you use a Scrum approach, the DoR means you can take immediate action. Before starting a project, your team needs to know:
- Your target customers: What are their motivations, pain points, and needs?
- The project goals: What's the purpose of the project?
- The required tasks: Are they valuable, both for the business and the user? Are they clear and feasible?
- Technical requirements: Do they have the necessary resources? Do they understand the technical approach or solution? Can you test it?
- Time estimates: What's the timeline to complete the work? Have stakeholders and the team agreed on an end date?
- The definition of done (DoD): What does completion, or DoD, look like? What Scrum metrics do you plan to use to evaluate success?
Only once the team grasps the project's scope can the work move from product backlog to active. Everyone must collectively agree on whether the work is ready. That way, you'll reduce any back-and-forth on the team's workload.
Key components of DoR
There are six critical components of a DoR that you'll want to consider. These components assist you in your Agile planning. The nickname for these components is the INVEST method, which stands for:
Whatever backlog item you're working on must not depend on any other task. It must be self-contained. Your team will avoid any unnecessary work this way.
A task shouldn't be rigid. You must be flexible enough to consider other options the team might bring.
There must be a purpose to your work. More importantly, it must add value to the product, the customer, and the business.
The task must be feasible, achievable, and measurable. Your team needs to know how much time and effort you will require of them. If the sprint requires multiple tasks, the same goes for each.
The work must be manageable. If a task is complex, you should be able to break it down into smaller ones. Doing so prevents fire drills and working in overdrive to meet unreasonable deadlines. And your team won't burn out.
Specify the success and completion criteria based on business and user needs. These allow your team to evaluate whether the task is complete.
Why is Definition of Ready important?
A clear DoR will instill confidence and set expectations with you, your team, and your stakeholders.
Here’s why a DoR is essential for your company:
- Enhances communication: Your team can better communicate whether a task is ready for work.
- Improves efficiency: The checklist of a DoR allows your team to execute tasks efficiently. That's because team members understand the technical requirements.
- Reduces errors: With a firm grasp of a task, the team can mitigate errors during the sprint.
- Promotes collaboration: A DoR requires your team to work collaboratively before and during the sprint.
How to create an effective DoR
Now that you understand the DoR, it's time to create one. Let's go through the step-by-step process of creating an effective DoR for your company::
- Define your team's responsibilities. Ensure each team member knows what they're responsible for.
- Involve critical stakeholders. You'll want their input and buy-in on the DoR criteria to mitigate any scope creep.
- Specify the DoR structure and format. What is your checklist for? What defines ready work? How does your team determine what's ready? These are important questions to ask yourself when creating a DoR.
- Keep your backlog groomed. Nothing beats a well-kept backlog. Your team must examine whether an item fits the product roadmap and is still relevant.
- Identify and define user stories. Determine a user story's criteria and whether it's feasible.
- Ensure it meets the INVEST method. A DoR checklist determines if a task is independent, negotiable, valuable, estimable, small, and testable.
Now that you know all the steps, you can create a Definition of Ready checklist within Jira Software to ensure your team is on the same page on how to complete a task and what the expectations are.
Fine-tune your team's DOR with Jira Software
A DoR keeps your team agile and ensures your work is impactful for customers and the business as a whole.
Ready to start on a DoR? Atlassian's project management tools make it easy for you. You can document everything for your team and keep them aligned.
- Determine what tasks and user stories are ready and actionable.
- Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable sprints.
- Execute sprints efficiently and stay on task.
- Achieve successful completion with the least amount of friction.
You can also create a DoR checklist for all stories in your Jira backlog. Jira Software is your DoR superpower where you and your team can prioritize tasks and crush sprints. And that'll make you a project management superhero.
Definition of ready: Frequently asked questions
What is an example of a DoR?
A DoR lets your team know if a backlog item is ready for a sprint. Here’s a Definition of Ready example for a bug fix:
A bug fix might've lingered on your backlog, but now you can move it up. That's because your team:
- Determined that it’s actionable. The team feels the bug fix is feasible and independent of other tasks.
- Established a shared understanding. The team collectively grasps what the bug fix entails. They know what they need to make it happen.
- Know its value. The team understands the impact of the bug fix on customers and the business.
- Set criteria and a timeline for completion. The team estimates the time to complete the fix based on key benchmarks.
- Believes the bug fix is testable and verifiable. The team can test the fix to see if it works and demonstrate it to stakeholders.
How does DoR fit into Agile project management?
A DoR allows your team to be agile. It's perfect for Agile project management because your team will:
- Know what tasks they can work on within a reasonable timeline.
- Work effectively because they know all the dependencies and requirements.
- Have all the necessary information to ensure they can complete the scope of work on time.
What is the difference between DoR and DoD?
DoR and DoD are both crucial touchstones at either end of a sprint, but there are a few key differences between them:
- DoR: This is the criteria to determine if a task or user story is ready for your team to tackle.
- DoD: This is the benchmark to evaluate when a task or user story is complete.