Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jul 12, 2019

What does it mean to be done in Scrum? This is something that gets overlooked frequently. The Scrum guide says that the heart of Scrum is a sprint a timebox of one month or less, during which a done, useable, and potentially releasable product increment is created. So for something to be done means it’s either in production or it’s ready to go to production without any further work. And especially with new Scrum teams, this can be a major hurdle. It can seem like too much to ask.


Joining Dan Naumann today is AgileThought colleague and return guest, Sam Falco! Sam is an Agile Coach and Certified Scrum Professional with an extensive background leading Agile development teams. And today they’re highlighting exactly what it means to be ‘done in Scrum,’ why you should care about the definition of ‘done,’ how to go about shaping your team’s definition of ‘done,’ how to reach ‘done,’ and what you can do as a new Scrum team to overcome the hurdle of what ‘done’ is.


Key Takeaways

What does it mean to be done in Scrum?

  • According to the Scrum guide, it means: during a sprint a useable and potentially releasable product increment is created (meaning it is either in production or ready to go to production without any further work)
  • This definition of ‘done’ applies to the increment you’re creating each sprint
  • Everything has to be working and working together

What can you do as a new Scrum team to overcome the hurdle of what ‘done’ is?

  • Make sure your items are broken down small enough
  • Make sure an increment is doable
  • Remember that it’s better to deliver a small piece of value than a bunch of stories or backlog items that are not ready

How to reach ‘done’:

  • Work together toward a common increment
  • Build a strong enough sprint goal that is aimed at creating a solid product increment
  • Do integration testing
  • “If it hurts to release, do it more often”
  • Consider: what can you do to automate it and make it easier to release?
  • If, as a team, you feel your sprint is too short, consider the possibility that you’re perhaps trying to do too much
  • Identify undone work in the increment
  • Use the retrospective to frequently inspect your team’s definition of ‘done’

Sam’s tips for how to go about shaping your Scrum team’s definition of ‘done’:

  • The team should create it with the product owner
  • Brainstorm as a team by considering the question: what does it mean to get work into production?
  • Align with your company’s developmental standards if they exist
  • There has to be a common definition that everyone agrees to and adheres to

Why should someone care about the definition of ‘done’?

  • Builds trust between business and IT
  • Helps the team manage batch sizes by helping them to determine what they can do in a sprint
  • Helps the Scrum team be clear to the business about what they’re going to receive
  • Helps you minimize technical debt
  • Continual attention to technical excellence enhances agility

Key takeaways around the concept of ‘done’:

  • Start with what you know that you need to do to get to ‘done’
  • Don’t obsess about having the perfect definition of ‘done’ (especially if you’re a beginning team)
  • Make sure that you have useful guidelines that will help you communicate what is ‘done’
  • Remember that this can eliminate the cost of technical debt and make your organization more nimble


Mentioned in this Episode:

The Nexus Scaling Framework

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep.33: “Nimble Facilitation with Rebecca Sutherns, PhD”

Nimble: A Coaching Guide for Responsive Facilitation, by Rebecca Sutherns


Sam Falco’s Book Pick:

The Enterprise and Scrum, by Ken Schwaber


Want to Learn More or Get in Touch?

Visit the website and catch up with all the episodes on!

Email your thoughts or suggestions to or Tweet @AgileThought using #AgileThoughtPodcast!