Definition of Done VS Acceptance Criteria

Definition of Done and acceptance criteria. These two elements are often misunderstood and I would like to make them clear and straightforward (while busting some myths).

Let’s make sure we are on the same page first.

Definition of Done (DoD) is a commitment in Scrum. It is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the acceptable quality standards of the product. When the Increment is Done we consider it good enough to be given into customers hands.

Acceptance criteria, on the other hand, is a set of requirements for each Product Backlog item. It comes in addition to the Definition of Done.

When both the DoD and acceptance criteria are met we can say that the items is done, whether it is for a functionality or feature, for a bug fix, for tech debt fix, etc.

Watch the video to learn some examples and put them in perspective for what is required for your product.

Simple Examples

As I describe in the video, a great and simple example would be a restaurant or a cooking reality show.

We would use the Definition of Done for every dish we cook:

  • All ingredients fully cooked as required per ingredient.
  • Dish is ready for consumption.
  • Dish is visually pleasing.
  • All ingredients are added as described in the recipe.

And then every Product Backlog item will have a list of acceptance criteria (or recipe) we need to follow.

For example, acceptance criteria for a salad could look something like this:

  • 1 tomato, sliced.
  • 1 cucumber, cut in circles.
  • About 50% of salad leaves ā€“ any will do.
  • 100 grams of chicken
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

When we finish cooking our dish we will use both the DoD and the acceptance criteria to understand if it’s done or not.

If it’s not Done….

This is such an important point, that I wanted to describe it once again.

The cooking example makes it easier to understand. If we are in a cooking reality show and by the end of the timebox we our dish is not ready, judges won’t accept it. We can’t just give it to them anyway.

Not Done = not part of the Increment.

Let me quote the Scrum Guide here:

If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it returns to the Product Backlog for future consideration.

Scrum Guide 2020

What if we need stakeholders’ feedback?

This is another common question.

Remember that the Sprint Review is the formal event to review Done work. Nothing prevents you from consulting your stakeholders at any other point in time.

In addition, while it’s common to automatically carry-over undone items into the next Sprint, it is not what you should be doing. There might be more important items to work on in the next Sprint.

Yes, I know what you are thinking: “we’ve already put in so much work into this item, we need just one more day to finish!”

Well, this “one more day” might be much better spent on something else.

That’s why the team meets every day in Daily Scrum to re-plan and avoid creating work that won’t be used.

Help your team define what Done means for your product with this essential guide on the Definition of Done with a full workshop facilitation guide included.

Definition of Done Guide - ScrumMastered 2024

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About The Author

Hi, my name is Daria Bagina. Iā€™m a Professional Scrum Trainer with and a practicing Scrum Master. I help teams and organizations to get the most out of the Scrum and Agile implementation by sharing my personal stories and practical advice.

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