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Definition of Done: for Increment or PBI?

Last post 09:35 pm February 7, 2017 by Ian Mitchell
11 replies
12:03 pm February 1, 2017

Scrum guide explicitly says:

The purpose of each Sprint is to deliver Increments of potentially releasable functionality that adhere to the Scrum Team’s current definition of “Done.”

Which means that DoD is for an Increment.

At the same time there is a quiz question taken from open Professional Scrum Developer assessment:

The definition of "Done" describes the work that must be completed for every Product Backlog item before it can be deemed as releasable (...). (it's from the question itself, not from the answers)

So, what does the Definition of Done from the Scrum Guide refer to?

03:13 pm February 1, 2017

My reading of the Scrum Guide is that DOD refers to the increment.

03:40 pm February 1, 2017


that would mean that the assessment question is not valid, correct?

05:15 pm February 1, 2017

Hi Bartek,

no, the question isn't invalid, you just need to read a bit between the lines. An increment is the sum of the PBIs did by the team during the sprint, to me it means, that they all need to be "Done" to have a "Done" increment.


06:36 pm February 1, 2017

The full question is:

"The definition of "Done" describes the work that must be completed for every Product Backlog item before it can be deemed releasable. What should the Development Team do when, during the Sprint, it finds out that a problem outside of their control blocks them from doing all this work?"

The way I read this, the word "it" in the first sentence correlates to "all of this work" in the last sentence. This can hence be read as implicitly referring to the increment.

In other words, the DoD describes the work that must be completed for every Product Backlog item in aggregate. Of course, it would be individually rather than in aggregate if each PBI ought to be discretely releasable as an increment in its own right.

10:21 pm February 1, 2017

DoD applies to both, PBI and Increment.

DoD for a PBI refers to meeting all the criteria set by team.
DoD for the increment refers to meeting the Sprint Goal.

Or maybe not? I guess it's time to introduce some new abbreviations...

08:59 am February 2, 2017

Having the DOD applied for each PBI is "Nice to have".
But the commitment of the Dev Team is that the DOD is a "Must have" for the increment.

For instance, around me, testing automation is still poor.
Having "Performance Testing" or "Security Testing" for each PBI is not yet possible. But a few teams achieve to have "performance or security testing" for the increment.

09:29 am February 2, 2017

Thanks for your opinions.

I read somewhere within PSM II and III study materials, that questions are straightforward and one should not assume that there are some hidden windups. In that sense I consider this particular quiz question a bit unfortunate because of it's phrasing.

09:41 pm February 2, 2017

> should not assume that there are some hidden windups

I reckon you can assume that there are no deliberately hidden windups. However, you should also assume that there will be challenges regarding nuance and context, that "unfortunate" things may well happen in phrasing, and that you will have to recognize and navigate these. To do this you must have internaluzed Scrum and be able to see through the surface to the heart of the question.

08:58 pm February 7, 2017

Can/Should the DoD be added as a task linked to a PBI? Or would it be overkill to manage this way?

In one of my projects, we used sub-lanes called In Dev, "In unit testing", "in peer review" etc.

How do you all track the DoD (per item or per increment)? Or do you simply announce in the Sprint Review that the increment satisfies the DoD criteria?


09:35 pm February 7, 2017

One option is to plan a separate task for achieving each criterion in the Definition of Done.

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