Not “Done”

Sometimes your team might not be able to get something “Done” by the end of the Sprint. What do you do then? You might have some questions about how to manage this situation and what best practices you should follow.

Questions you might have

There are a few questions I usually hear when the team doesn’t have a Done Increment by the end of the Sprint:

  • Do we split the Product Backlog item to still get the points for the work we did? This usually comes from overall velocity concerns. If this is your biggest question I recommend looking into my post Velocity is a made-up number
  • Do we present undone in the Sprint Review?
  • If we have nothing to present, do we cancel the Sprint Review?

While in many cases your answers might change based on your situation, when it comes to Done Scrum is very specific. As a Scrum Master it is your role to uphold Scrum and help everyone implement it in the right way.

In my video, I explain what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to undone work and Sprint Reviews.

If your team doesn’t have the skills to get to Done

Your team might be in a situation where whatever they do, they cannot get to Done – they just don’t have the necessary skills or decision power.

The first thing to do in this situation, it to bring transparency. It means you need to document the undone work in the Product Backlog and review this issue during the Sprint Review.

Here’s what the team can do during the Sprint Review:

  • Product Owner can present what has been Done (i.e. no increment Done) and what has not been Done;
  • Developers can present what impeded their progress;
  • Scrum Team should collaborate with stakeholders on the next things that could be done to optimize value and deliver Done.

The full benefits of Scrum can only be achieved when a Scrum Team is cross-functional meaning they have all the skills necessary to deliver a Done increment at least once a month (one month being the longest a Sprint can be).

Identify why your team is unable to get to Done and work on removing those impediments.

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About the author

Hi, my name is Daria Bagina. Iā€™m a Professional Scrum Trainer with and a experience Agile leader. 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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