Definition of 'Done' as Scrum teams mature

Last post 10:11 pm January 13, 2021
by Ian Mitchell
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01:27 pm January 13, 2021

Hi All,

I thought an interesting topic for discussion would be about the definition of 'Done'. It is said in the Scrum guide that:

'As Scrum Teams mature, it is expected that their definitions of “Done” will expand to include more stringent criteria for higher quality'

Why is this the case? Shouldn't this be an expectation right from the beginning as the aim is to provide potentially useable functionalities which are appropriate, useful and competitive.

Or is quality always a part of the definitation, but gains more importance as the teams gain more experience? if yes, why?

Any suggestions here would be great! :)

Cheers 

09:55 pm January 13, 2021

Think about something that you have done multiple times such as building a bookcase from scratch that did not come from a kit, taking care of the landscaping in a yard, writing code used by a computer.  Did you improve each time you did the work?  Did your threshold for errors decrease or increase in for your later work? 

As people do work repeatedly, they will usually become less tolerable of mistakes. As a team works together, they usually start to hold each other to a higher level of accountability. Such is the case where a Definition of Done will expand to include more stringent criteria for higher quality.  If a team does not behave in this way I would become concerned about the team's growth. 

This is contrived example but it can be used to illustrate. Suppose your initial Definition of Done states that "no defects have been found within the last 24 hours".  As the team works together they might chose to change that to "no more than 4 defects have been found during the Sprint".  There might be many iterations between those two changes but that shows how quality standards can increase. 

There is no guidance on what is to be part of the Definition of Done. Only that everyone understands what is meant when something adheres to the Definition of Done.  Organizations may focus their Definition of Done on any aspects. There is no wrong definition.  I will say that every organization I have worked that successfully used a Definition of Done there was some aspects that related to the quality of the deliverable.  But that is anecdotal and I would never consider it to be required.

10:11 pm January 13, 2021

'As Scrum Teams mature, it is expected that their definitions of “Done” will expand to include more stringent criteria for higher quality'

Why is this the case? Shouldn't this be an expectation right from the beginning as the aim is to provide potentially useable functionalities which are appropriate, useful and competitive.

Would you expect a Scrum Team to get it right, from the beginning? Bear in mind that Scrum Teams work on complex problems where more is unknown than is known.