Understand the Difference Between the Definitions of Done and Ready
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Understand the Difference Between the Definitions of Done and Ready

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When beginning a new project, it is essential to establish the Definition of Done (DoD) and the Definition of Ready (DoR), on the level of discussions. These terms are abbreviated as "DoD" and "DoR," respectively.

By reaching a consensus on the definitions, both parties may be certain that they will not be taken aback in the future. It might save you unpleasant surprises and time. You might be wondering, "What's the difference between the two?"

Ready Stage

When all the required components and activities are prepared before beginning the creation of anything, one may say that they are ready.

The term "ready" is referred to as the "definition of readiness," or "DoR," and its purpose is to ensure that the development team has all the information and resources necessary to begin working on a project. The DoR must include an overview of what needs to be completed, who will oversee each task, and the outcomes that are anticipated for each endeavor.

A well-defined Definition of Ready should include the following characteristics:

  • Clearly defined goals and objectives
  • Detailed descriptions of the work that needs to be done
  • A clear understanding of the resources and tools required to complete the work
  • A timeline for completion of the work
  • A clear division of tasks and responsibilities
  • A clear understanding of the expected outcome of each task

It is crucial to define the DoR well because it ensures that the development team can get to work right away when the DoR is met, without having to wait for more information or resources. This keeps the project moving and lowers the likelihood of delays.

Done Stage

The “Done Stage” is the point at which a deliverable or task is complete; it has met its requirements and established quality standards. This can be determined through, e.g., testing to validate that goals have been met or by milestones declared by stakeholders.

The definition of done is a checklist that must be met before work on a task can be considered complete. It typically includes acceptance criteria, standards for quality assurance and organizational policies that need to be fulfilled for the task to be handed off or approved.  

How does it compare to being ready?

The definition of ready, on the other hand, is an agreed-upon collection of requirements that determines when a task or product backlog item can begin to be worked on by developers. These conditions are outlined in the definition of ready. This frequently includes things like user stories that fulfill specified standards, such as having been split down into tasks with reasonable estimates and given resources. Other common examples include things like assigned resources and realistic time estimates.

Let us consider a common day-to-day scenario as an example: You have decided to paint your kitchen walls.  

The definition of ready would mean that you have:  

  • Purchased the painting supplies (e.g., brushes, rollers, tape)
  • Cleared away any furniture or decorations from the area so it can be painted easily
  • Bought all the necessary safety equipment (masks, gloves, etc.)
  • Read up and watched video tutorials on how to paint your walls effectively (though you could know how to do that beforehand)

The definition of done would mean that all four walls are now fully covered in paint and there is no further work needed on them other than perhaps letting them dry completely before adding back any furniture or decorations.

Why do it?

Agreeing on definitions of done and ready before starting a project is important because:

  • It sets expectations
  • Allows for more accurate estimation of task completions and timelines
  • Helps avoid miscommunication between team members
  • Provides structure for workflows and processes
  • And will help the project stay on track

It also ensures that everyone involved in the project understands what each stage means so that tasks can be completed efficiently. Additionally, having defined criteria gives all parties an understanding of when their responsibilities have been fulfilled or when they need to take further action.

The Risks Of Poorly Defined (Or Undefined) DoR & DoD

When the DoR and DoD are not well-defined, the development team may experience delays or misunderstandings, which can lead to decreased quality and increased costs – in turn ultimately leading to customer dissatisfaction and penalties if the project is not completed to the required standards.

  • Miscommunication and misunderstandings: there may be misunderstandings or miscommunication between the development team and the customer – especially if the lack of a DoR and DoD mean that the project scope is unclear.
  • Delays in project delivery: If the development team does not have a clear understanding of what is required, it may take longer to complete the project. This can result in missed deadlines, leading to increased costs and decreased customer satisfaction.
  • Decreased quality: If the development team does not know what is required to complete the project, the quality of the project may suffer. This can result in the need for additional work to be done, which increases costs and decreases customer satisfaction.

Best practices for establishing and maintaining Definition of Ready and Definition of Done

To establish and maintain effective definitions, there are a few best practices that Agile teams should follow:

  • Involve the whole development team in the DoR and DoD definition process. This helps avoid misunderstandings or confusion by ensuring that everyone is aware of the requirements.
  • Keep the DoR and DoD up to date. The DoR and DoD may need to be revised as the project develops to reflect changes in the project's needs or scope.
  • Make it simple for the development team to access the DoR and DoD. This makes it possible for everyone to be aware of what is necessary and to consult the DoR and DoD if necessary.
  • Regularly review the DoR and DoD. This makes it easier to spot any problems or gaps and ensures that the DoR and DoD are still able to satisfy the project's requirements.


In conclusion, the Definition of Ready and the Definition of Done are fundamental concepts in Agile project management, where the success of the project can largely depend on how well-defined they are.  

These definitions help the development team understand what is expected of them, ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the customer's satisfaction.

To avoid misunderstandings and ensure project success, it is essential to involve the entire development team in defining and regularly reviewing the DoR and DoD. This helps keep the definitions up-to-date and relevant to the project needs.

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