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What Is Definition of Ready (DoR)?

A definition of ready (DoR) is used to determine whether work on a task is ready to be started. Before teams assign a task or user story in a sprint, it must be sufficiently well described and understood by team members. 

The development team should grasp enough of a proposed scope to plan it into a sprint, estimate completion time, and allocate adequate resources to meet its goal. 

A definition of ready serves as a checklist of criteria to help facilitate a team's decision to begin working on a new task. Note that a definition of ready is different from a definition of done (DoD).

Definition of ready Agile considerations

To consider a task "ready," it must pass specific acceptance criteria. These criteria depend on the organization's way of working and business processes. They help estimate user story points for inclusion in a sprint. Standard DoR in Agile considerations include:

  • Is the task actionable? Does the team know what to do? Can they do it now? 
  • Is the task clear? Is there a shared understanding of what it is and how to implement it?
  • Is the task valuable? What is the business value? What is its value to the end-user? 
  • Has the team estimated the task? Can it be completed within one sprint? If it is not achievable in a sprint, it may need to be broken into smaller tasks.
  • What are its acceptance criteria? Is there an effective way to test each story functionality?
  • When done, what makes it complete? Does the team understand how to evaluate it in the sprint review once complete? This is where the definition of done comes in. 

DoR in Agile should be agreed on by the whole team, not just project managers. Agile project managers ensure that the definition of ready is well-documented and evolves as teams mature.

Definition of ready example

Stakeholders may use DoR in Agile internally to clarify project requirements and prioritize user stories in sprint planning. Below is a simple definition of ready checklist example.

  • User story has business value
  • User story has been
  • estimated by development team
  • User story is clear and well-defined
  • User story is achievable within a sprint
  • User story is measurable and testable upon completion
  • User story dependencies have been identified

Definition of ready also comes in handy when outsourcing and contracting work or collaborating with external teams.