Why You Should Use a Definition of Ready in Your Projects

In my former blog post I introduced the concept of the “ready-ready backlog” for Agile teams. In this blog post I want to share some metrics about the effect of introducing a “Definition of Ready” (DoR) to industry projects.

I introduced the following DoR for an Agile team that has worked for 3 months together:

  • The business value of the user story is understood by the development team
  • The acceptance criteria are clearly defined and understood by the development team
  • Requirements on documentation, specification, configuration, test, regression tests and architecture are clarified
  • The development team has a concrete idea of demonstrating and testing the user story
  • The user story has been estimated by the team with a high confidence level

After introducing the DoR I gathered the following metrics from the following 7 sprints:

  • # of user stories committed for the sprint
  • # of user stories in the sprint backlog that did not fulfill the DoR
  • Velocity
  • Team happiness (1-10)
  • Fulfillment of sprint commitment (green = fulfilled, red = failed)

The results can be seen in the figure below:

DoR

 

By using the DoR in the backlog refinement meetings the behavior of the team changed perceptibly. Without the DoR it was sufficient for the team, if backlog items were shortly discussed and estimated. With the DoR the team focused much more on each backlog item and the discussions went deeper. More pitfalls were discovered upfront. Anyway it was hard to get each user story “ready” before sprint planning because of the high project pressure. After bumpy 4 sprints the ability of the team to analyze and refine backlog items improved significantly. For the following 3 sprints all committed user stories were “ready” according to the DoR and during the sprints less incidents happened due to overseen or miss-interpreted requirements. The DoR had a rather small impact on the ability to fulfill sprint commitments and velocity but by shifting the focus on getting backlog items “ready” it perceptibly improved the ability of the team to analyze and refine backlog items.