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What Is the Difference Between the Definition of Done and Acceptance Criteria?

February 6, 2024

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The DoD and the acceptance criteria are two fundamental concepts in product development. While DoD is part of Scrum, Acceptance Criteria is an additional practice.


They both serve distinct purposes in ensuring quality and meeting stakeholder expectations.

The DoD is applied to every Product Backlog Item. It is a comprehensive checklist that ensures quality by including functionality, performance, security, compliance, and other necessary standards that apply to all increments.

As mentioned in the Scrum Guide, when a Product Backlog Item meets the DoD, an Increment is born.

Example of DoD for code quality and completeness:

·       All code must pass a peer review process with no critical issues.

·       Unit tests are written for all code, achieving 80% code coverage.

·       All code complies with the team's coding standards.

On the other hand, Acceptance Criteria are conditions that a specific Product Backlog Item must meet for it to be accepted by a customer, a user, or other systems. These are tailored to individual items and detail the expected behaviour and requirements of that feature or piece of functionality. Acceptance Criteria are not part of the Scrum but a complementary practice that helps create transparency.

Example of Acceptance Criteria for user's shopping cart checkout:

·       The checkout process should handle multiple items (at least ten unique items) in the shopping cart.

·       The user must have the option to enter a promotional code for a discount before finalizing the purchase.

·       The user should receive a confirmation number and an email order summary upon successful purchase.

We can list some critical differences:

1.     What are they?

DoD is a broad checklist that applies to every single Product Backlog Item, ensuring consistency and completeness. Acceptance Criteria are specific to individual backlog items or features, detailing the conditions that must be met for the requirement to be considered complete.

2.     What is their scope?

DoD is usually defined at an organisational or team level and remains relatively stable throughout the consecutive Sprints. Acceptance Criteria are determined at the backlog item level and can vary widely between one and another.

3.     What is the purpose?

DoD ensures the product increment meets the quality standards listed and is useful and ready for a future release. Acceptance Criteria focus on whether the product increment fulfills the specific requirements of the Product Backlog Item.

4.     Who created them?

Creating DoD is a collaborative process involving the entire team and sometimes even multiple teams or the entire product organisation. Acceptance Criteria are primarily the product owner's responsibility, but can also be delegated to the Developers, and is often made in collaboration with stakeholders.

5.     When are they assessed?

DoD is referenced and applied at the end of the sprint to assess if work is complete. Acceptance Criteria are used throughout the sprint to guide development and testing.


DoD and Acceptance Criteria can complement each other. DoD ensures uniform quality and completeness across the entire product development, while acceptance criteria provide specific, item-level requirements to meet stakeholder needs. Both are crucial for delivering high-quality products that align with user expectations and goals.

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