Definition of Ready (DoR): An essential tool for improving software development quality

One of the key practices of Agile is the “Definition of Ready”. DoR ensures that tasks or User Stories are sufficiently clear and ready to be worked on by the team.

In this article, we’ll explore in detail what DoR is, why it’s important and how it can help development teams work better together to achieve their goals.

the DoR corresponds to a list of criteria (a checklist ) that must be met for a User Story to be considered ready to be included in a Sprint. She enables the team to align itself with this definition and ensure that all the constraints and requirements of the various parties involved (business, developers, Product Owner, UX/UI, etc.) are taken into account when writing User Stories.

Here’s a simple example of a checklist used to materialize a Scrum team’s DoR:

  • The User Story must have a clear and concise description of the functionality or task to be carried out.
  • understanding and acceptance of the User Story by the whole team.
  • The team has estimated the complexity of the User Story (in Story points, in days, etc.).
  • Acceptance criteria for the User Story are well defined.
  • The User Story meets the INVEST criteria.
  • the team checked the availability of the resources needed to carry out the task (for example, dependencies with other teams were discussed).

In a spirit of continuous improvement, the DoR is evolutionary and must adapt to the team’s Refinement process. It can therefore be questioned and improved during the Scrum team’s retrospective phases.

definition of ready dor agile scrum user story Definition of Ready (DoR): An essential tool for improving software development quality

Why implement DoR with your team?

By using DoR, the Scrum team ensures that it has all the information and resources it needs to work effectively on the task or User Story in question. The Definition of Ready is important for several reasons;

  • Clarifying expectations: DoR helps to clarify the expectations and quality criteria necessary for a task or User Story to be considered “ready” for the development team to work on. This enables all stakeholders to understand what is expected and to align expectations.

  • Reduced risk of error: By clearly defining DoR criteria, the team can reduce the risk of miscommunication, misunderstandings and misunderstanding of expectations, which can lead to costly development errors.

  • Improved quality: Definition of Ready enables the development team to focus on quality and ensure that each User Story is of sufficient quality before being developed. This can reduce the risk of bugs and other quality problems that can delay development.

  • Improved planning: DoR helps the team to plan better and ensure that tasks are ready to be worked on during the sprint or development period. So when it comes to Sprint Planning, the team only works on planning User Stories that are ready to be shipped.

  • Improved collaboration: Implementing the Definition of Ready requires regular communication and collaboration between stakeholders, which can strengthen team cohesion and efficiency.

In short, implementing DoR can help improve development quality and planning, as well as collaboration and communication between stakeholders. It is therefore important to ensure the success of the development team.

How can you implement Definition Of Ready in your team?

Here are the key steps for implementing DoR in your development team:

  1. Involve the whole team: It’s important that all team members are involved in the process, not just the Product Owner. Hold a team meeting to explain the tool and discuss the criteria you’d like to include in the checklist.

  2. Define the checklist criteria: Together with your team, define the specific criteria that each user story or task must meet to be considered “ready” to work on. These criteria can vary according to the needs of your team and your project, but they can include elements such as User Story description, complexity, acceptance criteria, etc.

  3. Integrate DoR into your Agile process: Make sure this checklist is integrated into your existing Agile process. For example, you can include a DoR review in your sprint planning or Backlog refinement meeting.
  4. Make sure all team members understand the DoR: The Scrum Master must accompany and coach team members. He must make sure that everyone is comfortable with the process.

  5. Review the DoR regularly: It’s important to regularly review your checklist criteria to ensure they remain relevant and effective for your team. Take the time to discuss these criteria at your retrospective meetings, and make any necessary changes.

By following these steps, you should be able to implement DoR in your Scrum team effectively. This should help your team to work more efficiently and achieve their objectives more quickly.

The pros and cons of DoR?

The benefits of Definition of Ready

  1. Better understanding of the User Story: DoR ensures that all stakeholders have a common understanding of the tasks at hand, reducing the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

  2. Better planning : With a clearly defined DoR, the team can better plan future sprints and tasks, reducing delays and improving time management.

  3. Better quality : By focusing on the Definition of Ready criteria, the team can ensure that the User Story is of sufficient quality to be developed and tested.

  4. Reduced backtracking: By using DoR, the team can ensure that the User Story is sufficiently clear and ready for development, reducing the risk of backtracking and last-minute changes.

The disadvantages of Definition of Ready

  1. Risk of rigidity : If the DoR criteria are too rigid, this can hamper the team’s flexibility and agility. So watch out for bottlenecks!

  2. Risk of adding complexity : If the DoR criteria are not well defined or are too numerous, this can add complexity to the management of team tasks.

  3. The need for good communication: For DoR to work effectively, it’s important that all stakeholders communicate clearly and regularly to ensure that the User Story is ready to be developed.

Ultimately, the advantages of DoR can outweigh the disadvantages if implemented effectively and appropriately for your team’s needs. Adopt an iterative approach. experiment with a first version and evolve the DoR according to your Scrum team’s needs

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Definition of Ready is an essential tool for ensuring that backlog items are clear, consistent and ready to be implemented by the Scrum team. By using effective DoR, developers can avoid quality problems and delays due to imprecise or incomplete specifications. By encouraging open, ongoing communication between stakeholders, this tool can help ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength and working towards the same goals.

We encourage all developers, Scrum Masters and Product Owners to think about how they can apply DoR in their own software development process.

This post is also available in: French

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Ahmed BEN SALEM

Ahmed BEN SALEM

Strongly involved in Agile methodologies, I have held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Release Train Engineer for SAFe, Scrum and DevOps projects. My approach focuses on people and stakeholder collaboration, creating environments conducive to innovation and performance.

Since 2016, I have successfully led several Agile software development projects for companies of all sizes, including Odigo, Orange and PSA. My solid experience in Agile methodologies, in particular Scrum and SAFe, has enabled me to work with multicultural teams from countries such as the USA, India, Vietnam and Morocco.

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