Blog 4: Agile tasks lists, what does “done” mean in Agile?

Throughout a product’s creation it is shaped through every Sprint to reach a closer and closer state of completion. Being completed is a lot more then just finishing the backlog. Yes, your team implemented the extremely frustrating like button on your app, but does it work correctly? Are there any hiccups when the button is pressed? Does it crash your app? More importantly does the product owner like the button’s placement? Icon? functionality?

Perhaps one of the most important questions when evaluating whether your team is done would be is the product owner happy? Hopefully throughout the Agile process the Product Owner communicated what he wanted and went over the backlog and user stories with the team. This is to eliminate any potential surprises he may have when shown the completed work. If, for example, he never said anything about what type of icon he wanted for the app and the design team chooses a cool Viking skull picture for it. By chance the product owner is the one guy in the world who doesn’t like Viking skull artwork, the team is not done.

When the team is in development mode during a Sprint there are a number of things they need to be sure of to finish. There is the coding phase when the actual product is being developed. Then they move on to testing which insures that what ever they created works as it is suppose to and doesnt break someones computer or phone. Last, which I spoke of before, there is the confirmation by the Product Owner that he/she is happy with the end result. This might not give them the full shippable product but it moves them one step closer to that goal.

Just hopefully the team: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and other members have had enough discussions detailing what “done” means. It is enormously important that everyone knows what goal they are working towards to having a shippable product. What this means is that there has to be a set of rules which everyone knows and follows to determine when the team is done. Giovanni Cantone wrote, “Definition of done is a set of agreements that defines what done means…. Everyone on the team, including Scrum Masters and Product Owners, must have a common understanding of what done means.” In this way the team can all share in the understanding of their goals for the project and what they need to do to be complete.



Images Courtesy of:


Ambler, S., & Holitza, M. (2012). Agile For Dummies®, IBM Limited Edition. Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774: John Wiley & Sons.

Cantone, G., & Marchesi, M. (2014). Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming. Rome Italy: Springer.

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