A Definition of Ready (DoR) is an agreement established by some agile teams to help them assess if a given product backlog item can safely be accepted by the team to be worked on. It is not expected to be used as a gate but rather as guidance.

I frequently hear from teams who are frustrated with one or more of their ceremonies. There can be many reasons for such perceptions but some times the root cause relates more to what wasn’t completed in advance rather than what actually transpired during the ceremony. This made me realize that there could be some benefit in inviting such teams to come up with a DoR for their agile ceremonies.

Depending on the method or framework you follow there are likely to be different events, so I will focus on the standard ceremonies as defined within the Scrum Guide.

Sprint Planning

  • Has the product backlog been refined recently?
  • Is there shared understanding between the product owner and team as to what the items at the top of the product backlog mean and why those are important?
  • If the team has established a backlog work item DoR, do the items near the top of the backlog satisfy the essence of that DoR?
  • Has the product owner determined what they would like to achieve within the next sprint?
  • If the team came up with some improvement ideas in the previous sprint retrospective which they would like to implement right away, have they sized the level of effort needed?
  • Has each team member assessed whether there are any activities outside of product delivery work which will consume their capacity over the upcoming sprint?
  • Is the product owner and whole team present, in body AND in mind?

Scrum/Daily Standup

  • Are information radiators (e.g. work boards, burn down charts) up to date?
  • Has each team member spent some time thinking about the upcoming day to identify potential and realized impediments?
  • Is the whole team present, in body AND in mind?

Sprint Review

  • Does each work item which the team intends to review satisfy the essence of their DoD?
  • Has a dry run been done before the review to ensure that what was working before is still working now?
  • Have the “right” stakeholders been invited and confirmed that they can attend the review?
  • Has the product owner defined the order in which the completed work items will be reviewed?
  • Has the team decided how the work item reviews will be done (e.g. one team member demonstrates everything)?

Sprint Retrospective

  • Has the team had sufficient time after the sprint review to gather their thoughts?
  • Is the whole team present, in body AND in mind?
  • Are information radiators (e.g. burn down charts) up to date?
  • Has the Scrum Master or whoever will be facilitating the retrospective identified a theme or recipe for the retrospective?

Like all DoR’s or Definitions of Done (DoD), the list above is only intended to generate ideas for your team and not to be adopted “as is” as context counts.

The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato