As part of Product Backlog refinement (PBR), the User story which is well understood and well described gets a green flag to move to the Sprint backlog. This mechanism is called as “Definition of Ready”. In simple terms, the user story is clear for the development team which can be part of the iteration.


Beautifully explained by Mike Cohn, citing the example of a big burly bouncer standing at the door allowing certain individuals, the definition of ready bouncer only allows certain user stories to attend the iteration.

The next question is how does our bouncer decide whom to allow and whom to not – What are the criteria?

Checklist of Definition of Ready

  1. The story has been estimated and falls under the adequate size for iteration
  2. The story is clear and understandable
  3. All external dependencies have been resolved
  4. Is the acceptance criteria of a story is clearly understood by the team?
  5. A user who will accept the story is identified
  6. The team understand how to demo the story

The above points are the important criteria to be visited before moving the story to Sprint backlog. Do note, the DoR will change from Story to Story. The team should develop a mechanism best suited for them in implementing DoR.

Summary

“Definition of Ready” though not popular as “Definition of Done”, is important. The goal is to prevent problems and not allowing them to the iteration. Though debate continues around “Definition of Ready” makes the process more waterfall and less agile, it is at the discretion of the teams to decide how to use this. Our recommendation is the team should have clarity of the requirements before they start work and “ Definition of Ready” is extremely powerful. DoR is not mentioned on the Scrum Guide however this is related to the Definition of Done or DoD. If the team has a robust process around DoR, it will make the path comfortable for achieving DoD