Using the Definition of Done in Sprint Planning



Stage 2

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The Definition of Done (DOD) is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality, standards, security, and compliance measures required for the product.

The moment a Product Backlog item meets the Definition of Done, an Increment is born.

The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work needs to be completed as part of the Increment so that it can be potentially releasable and used by customers and stakeholders.

If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it returns to the Product Backlog for future consideration [1].

sprint planning basics and flow-sm
Above: The DOD is a critical input into Sprint Planning

Using the DOD in Sprint Planning


The team should consider the length of the Definition of Done when estimating its work.

When a team estimates its work, it estimates what it takes for the whole team to deliver the work to the Definition of Done. The longer the Definition of Done the larger the estimate is likely to be.

Help the Product Owner understand quality

A Product Owner might not understand why your organisation has certain rules about quality and why quality is important. Ultimately, working to a quality standard upfront helps remove and reduce downstream re-work.

Re-work is costly as it takes away time from the team – time better spent delivering. 

The stronger a team’s commitment to quality the more robust the products and services they will deliver for the Product Owner and their customers.


The team should have the Definition of Done handy at Sprint Planning and be making direct reference to it when they create their tasks.

The types of questions the team members should be asking include:

  • Who is going to do the peer review?
  • How are we going to peer review? Are we going to use a “pairing” pattern like “pair programming” or even “cross-functional pairing”?
  • Which template are we going to use for documentation?
  • Who is going to update the documentation?
  • Who is going to do the spell-checking of documentation?
  • What tasks are we going to do to ensure the documentation is in plain-English?
  • Who is going to do the testing?
  • What test coverage is needed to meet the Definition of Done? Do we need to triage the type of tests we’re going to do?
  • How much testing did we do last time, and what did we do, so that there would be no bugs or defects?
  • How are we going to ensure that security standards are met?

Sequencing of work

Team members should be assessing the logical order in which to deliver the work:

  • What’s the order of our work?
  • Does the Definition of Done assume we deliver our work in a certain way?
  • Are there part time people on the team? Can some of the items in the Definition of Done only be done by certain people with specific skills?
  • Are environments available only at certain times? What tasks do we need to do in order to ensure we’re ready to move between environments at the right time?


1. Sutherland, J. and Schwaber, K. (2020). The Scrum Guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game. 

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