Your team wants to move to the next step of the project but they are jumping the gun when it comes to being prepared—it’s something that Marc Löffler has seen plenty of—and it comes down to not being ready for the next sprint. According to Löffler, the problem can be traced to the following set of sentences:
- “Can we split this user story and at least start with the GUI?”
- “I’m not sure if the hardware will be available on time to integrate this story but we could use an emulator instead.”
- “There are no wire frames yet, but we could start with the back-end.”
- “The acceptance criteria are still quite vague, but I think I know what the customer needs.”
So what do teams do? They make up parts of the user story or they simply collect only a few of the user stories and don’t attempt to collect the rest. Löffler sees this as a horrible idea: the user story is meant to document, test, and evaluate successfulness of efforts in sprints—if this fundamental part of the effort isn’t completed correctly, you can be sure that the domino effect of issues will soon commence. Löffler goes on to explain the solution: But what can you do to avoid these discussions? There is a simple solution: Introduce the “Definition of Ready” (DoR)! The DoR defines, when a user story is ready for a sprint. If it doesn’t comply with this definition it will be ignored in the next sprint planning. As the “Definition of Done”, the DoR is defined by the team itself and therefore varies from team to team. If you’re e.g. developing a web application, hardware may be not that important for your team, but if you’re developing software for e.g. a medical device it is could be important. Sit together with your team and your PO and define what the DoR has to contain in your current situation. Agree, only to pull those stories into your sprint, that are ready for sprint. The Definition of Done (DoD) can be remarkably helpful, if even in the most basic of ways. Miscommunication or a lack of communication is the true culprit of many a wasted effort, but through clear definitions and expectations, teams can begin to see more complete work, and a higher level of satisfaction from customers and team stakeholders.