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Product Owner (PO) is not sure about Definition of Done (DoD)

Last post 06:05 pm June 1, 2023 by Ratnakumar Umavenkata Lekkala
9 replies
01:05 pm May 31, 2023

Hi folks,

As a scrum master, I'm dealing with the new PO who is not sure about all the functionality that is required in order to establish a solid checklist for DoD. We need to establish this checklist to include it as a part of our SPRINT PLANNING. In the past, I approached the original client or SME to get answers for the DoD if the PO wasn't sure. I have approached the agile team as well to hear their recommendations in establishing the DoD for a specific SPRINT (4 weeks) or a PI. 

If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I greatly appreciate your feedback.



03:41 pm May 31, 2023

Why does the Product Owner need to understand anything about functionality to help craft a Definition of Done? The Definition of Done is a commitment by the Developers to describe the state of a Product Backlog Item when they say it is Done, and by ensuring that all Product Backlog Items conform to a Definition of Done, the state and quality of the Increment can be made clear to all stakeholders. Although it could evolve over time, it's not something that is specific to a Sprint.

03:48 pm May 31, 2023

I'm dealing with the new PO who is not sure about all the functionality that is required in order to establish a solid checklist for DoD.

That's perhaps understandable, because the PO is not accountable for ensuring that work is Done. The Developers are, and many of the quality criteria they commit to for each Increment may actually be non-functional requirements.

Where the PO may be able to help is in establishing contacts and links within the wider organization. The parent company ought to be the first port of call for a Definition of Done since the Developers may have a duty of care to ensure their standards are met as a minimum. This may include architectural requirements, branding, integration, and certain matters of regulatory compliance.

06:13 pm May 31, 2023

Thomas and Ian,

Thank you for your time. I think the roles and responsibilities are set up differently in my new place. I was a PO on my last job, and I had to approve the completion of the user stories (40 story points) for each sprint, but the QA and DEV team had to make sure the functionality was established correctly. 

What if the PO has questions about some work item and if it needs to be included or not as a part of the initial SPRINT planning of the relative PI I? 



06:29 pm May 31, 2023

...hear their recommendations in establishing the DoD for a specific SPRINT (4 weeks) or a PI. 

This could be part of the problem.   The Definition of Done is not for a Sprint.  It is an commitment made by the Developers to communicate what they mean when they say an increment is done and multiple increments can be delivered in a single Sprint. 

What it seems you are trying to define is acceptance criteria for features.  That is not the same as a Definition of Done. 

As @Thomas and @Ian point out, the Product Owner does not create the Definition of Done.  They can have some input but the Developers are the ones that craft and commit to adhere to it. 

07:14 pm May 31, 2023

Thanks, everyone. I must do some digging here and see how the teams are set up. I'm a little surprised at this point. 


07:56 pm May 31, 2023

Are you assuming the scrum master is a part of the DEV team? Based on my understanding the answer could be Yes, but I want to ensure what you are referring.

Thanks so much!



08:54 am June 1, 2023

the new PO who is not sure about all the functionality that is required in order to establish a solid checklist for DoD

I am unsure if I understand correctly, but I am guessing you might be trying to establish a Regression Test scope covering the existing functionalities.

Doing the Regression Test is certainly a very good point in the Definition of Done but the exact scope of it can be defined elsewhere by the Developers (who are responsible for the product quality)

In the DoD, I would suggest to the developers just to put that the "Regression Testing is performed on each Increment" and provide some reference to the test suits executed. 


02:39 pm June 1, 2023

I am not assuming anything about the structure of the team.  There are 3 groups accountabilities in a Scrum Team...Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developer.  Remember that these are not job titles, they are accountabilities or sometimes referred to as roles.  Each role is accountable to the organization for specific things.  It is possible for one person to fulfill multiple sets of responsibilities but in my experience that doesn't work well.  

That answer is based upon an implementation of Scrum as outlined in the Scrum Guide ( and holds to the Scrum framework.  However, as you have pointed out, many organizations use Scrum terminology but are not implementing the framework.  Granted a framework does not specify process and will not provide detailed instructions so any organization implementing Scrum can and is encouraged to create your own processes.  However, when processes are created that take away from the empirical and self managing concepts core to Scrum, the full benefit will not be realized.  Having one individual that controls anything is an anti-pattern for Scrum.  For example, a Product Owner that creates a Definition of Done or a Scrum Master that assigns tasks to the developers.  Putting gates (Product Owner approval, QA Signoff) and command-control (Product Owner deciding what will be worked on in the next Sprint, tasks being assigned to others) goes against the heart of Scrum.  

A Scrum Team works as a team.  The team makes decisions. The team delivers. The team plans. The team respects that everyone is a professional with some of the cross functional skills needed to accomplish the work. The team respects that no one will intentionally do any harm. 

06:05 pm June 1, 2023

If the Definition of Done for an increment is part of the standards of the organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If it is not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the product.- Scrum Guide

Now my questions to you are

1) Did you organization have a definition of done?

2) Is your Scrum Team ready to create the Definition of Done that is appropriate for the product?

3) Does your team know the difference between Acceptance Criteria and Definiton of Done?


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