With the 2020 release of the Scrum Guide, Commitments were added for each artifact. The commitments provide a nice, structural way to describe some of the key characteristics of each artifact. The intent of this change was to provide clarity and make the Scrum Guide simpler to read and use. The commitments are Product Goal for the Product Backlog, Sprint Goal for the Sprint Backlog, and Definition of Done for the Increment.
The Scrum Guide describes a commitment as:
“Each artifact contains a commitment to ensure it provides information that enhances transparency and focus against which progress can be measured.”
It goes on to describe the value of commitments in reinforcing empiricism and the Scrum Values.
This change might generate the following questions with readers of the Guide.
Are commitments mandatory?
Yes, if you are using Scrum you must provide a commitment for each artifact. However, how that commitment is made transparent will vary depending on the context. Definition of Done and Sprint Goal were always mandatory, the introduction of artifact commitments gives them a consistent location within the Guide.
What happens when a commitment is missing?
If you ignore a commitment like if you ignore other elements of Scrum you are not doing Scrum. That does not mean you are wrong, but you have chosen not to follow Scrum. The commitments add clarity and support transparency and other than the Product Goal were always part of Professional Scrum. If you are currently using a Product Goal, making it a formal Scrum Artifact provides greater transparency and will make Scrum better.
Who creates the commitments?
They are part of the existing artifacts and as such whoever is accountable for that artifact is accountable for that commitment. Product Goal is the Product Owner working with the Scrum Team. The Sprint Goal is created by the Scrum Team. And, the Definition of Done is created by the Scrum Team.
Is this the same as the commitment in the Scrum Values?
Commitment is one of the five Scrum Values. It is described in the Scrum Guide:
“The Scrum Team commits to achieving its goals and supporting each other.”
This word describes the need for a Scrum Team to be committed to each other in pursuit of a goal and how that creates a positive environment for Scrum to flourish.
The use of the word commitment when describing each artifact is similar in that a team commits to provide for this artifact a Product Goal, Sprint Goal, or Definition of Done. However, reading in any other significance might be a stretch.