Get certified - Transform your world of work today


6 Levels of Doneness

6 Definitions of Done to track progress on the 5 levels of planning

29 September 2015


When I coach clients, our usual concerns are about how to implement an Agile framework for large organizations. Essentially, we must decide on the different levels of planning, how to share information across teams, and how to align different teams on a shared product direction and customer experience. In spirit, Scrum is a framework of Agile, and these are the commonly accepted five levels of Agile planning:
  1. Product vision
  2. Product road map
  3. Release plan
  4. Sprint plan
  5. Daily commitment
I like the five levels of Agile planning; they give flexibility as to how you and the organization want to implement planning, based on your team, environment, and culture.

However, I want to discuss the flip side of planning, which is the Definition of Done (DoD). DoD is a list of criteria that must be met before a product increment (often a user story) is considered "done." Many teams work toward a potentially shippable increment (PSI) of the product. Agile teams have a DoD at one or more of the following levels:
  • DoD for a feature (story or product backlog item)
  • DoD for a sprint (collection of features developed within a sprint)
  • DoD for a release (potentially shippable state)
There are six levels of Doneness that help the organization track progress and that impact each level of planning:
  1. Task
  2. Story
  3. Sprint
  4. Release
  5. Road map
  6. Product vision

The six levels of Doneness


Each Scrum team defines their own DoD for tasks. During the Daily Scrum or stand-up meeting, the team members commit to the tasks that they want to complete that day. A task is a unit of work that contributes to the fulfillment and completion of a scheduled work item (e.g., user stories or technical chores). Tasks allow decomposition of scheduled items into manageable units of work. The type of task and the level of breakdown of the task defines the level of completion.

Example of DoD
  • Task in backlog is closed.
  • Hours spent are logged in the backlog.
  • Dependencies are logged in the backlog.


Each Scrum team defines the DoD for stories. The DoD should be visible to the team by recording it on a team wall as a continuous reminder of when they are done. At each retrospective, the team should review their DoD, and determine whether it is still valid. There should be discussion among the different Scrum teams in the organization on what a good DoD is for stories.

Example of DoD
  • Story milestone
  • Code complete
  • Met acceptance criteria of story
  • Unit tests written and executed
  • All acceptance tests have been automated, where applicable
  • Documented (just enough)
  • Code has been reviewed by a peer (Dev)
  • Dependencies, assumptions, and constraints have been identified, documented, and addressed
  • Backlog updated
  • Continuous Integration tests have passed, where applicable


The main Doneness at this level is acceptance by the product owner of each story in the demo session. The goal of a sprint is to finish the PSI that the team committed to developing during the sprint.

Example of DoD
  • Product Owner has signed off from the demo
  • Product backlog is updated (from any changes from demo)
  • Bugs submitted during the sprint are corrected or deferred to the backlog
  • Organizational or technical debt produced during the sprint is logged in the backlog
  • Deployment documentation is updated (assuming a minimum of one PSI per sprint)
  • Release notes are updated
  • Code repository is tagged (as baseline)
  • Passed environment readiness (data, configuration file is set up, added tables, added queues)
  • Code passed all acceptance tests


During the release phase, the product manager and the team select which PSIs should be released to the production environment. At this level, the DoD is about testing (i.e., user acceptance testing or system integration testing of all the PSIs that are part of the release). Testing is also about making sure that the organization is ready for the functionality that is about to be released, (e.g., updated the user manual or trained call centers employees on the new functionality). This level of Doneness should be defined or aligned with the program level, across all Scrum teams.

Example of DoD
  • All of the PSI part of the release meets the DoD for the individual teams
  • Nonfunctional requirements have been met
  • Code is ready to be released to production
  • All code coverage and unit tests have passed
  • Code has been checked in and successfully built on a quality-assurance environment

  • There are no Severity 1 or Severity 2 defects

  • Rollout plan is available

  • All testing sign-offs have been received

  • Backlog is updated

Road map

The product road map is an overall view of the product's requirements and a valuable tool for planning and organizing the journey of product development. The product road map is used to categorize functionalities, to prioritize them, and to determine a timetable for their release. Inputs to defining the product requirements are company goals and KPIs. DoD for this level is focused on meeting the product functionality release dates that were specified in the road map.

Example of DoD
  • The functionality released, which the product team envisioned, has impact on the company goal or KPI.
  • Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue (AARRR) metrics for product and functionality performance are defined.
  • Measurements implemented to track the impact of the solution against the company goal or KPI and the AARRR metrics.

Product vision

I prefer to implement the Lean Canvas defined by Ash Maurya to capture the impact of the envisioned solution. For example, this solution will decrease the average number of call center calls by 20 percent per month. After the release of the functionality, the organization will measure the impact of the new functionality and see if it has the expected impact. At this level, the DoD is the impact to the customer or the KPI that the company set out to affect. The product vision level will not be done until that goal is met. If all the functionality that was planned on the road map has been released but the goal has not been met, the vision level is not done, and a new road map must be defined.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4 (6 ratings)


Be the first to add a comment...

You must Login or Signup to comment.

The community welcomes feedback that is constructive and supportive, in the spirit of better understanding and implementation of Scrum.


Newsletter Sign-Up