Definition of Ready – An Anti-Pattern (and when it might be useful)

There are differing perspectives on “Definition of Ready”s.

What is a Definition of Ready?

These are a checklist to be ticked off before a team starts working on a piece of work.

A Stage-Gate Process

They are often seen as an anti-pattern to Agile because a long DOR becomes a stage-gate that hinders progress. Teams and stakeholders that are in frequent communication rely more on collaborating upfront than collecting artefacts to meet a DOR.

In the perfect world, every team should be spending a little bit of time working ahead into the future (discovery). And even then, most organisations fail at implementing a robust discovery process. In the absence of a good discovery process, a lightweight DOR can be useful to bring forward conversations about dependencies, and to give a team the context they need to just “sprint”.

DOR Considerations

These are considerations to make when you add a new DOR item:

  • Is this item a result of an underlying problem – how can we fix the root cause instead?
  • Could this item be alleviated by involving someone / some team in a sprint review, refinement, planning or other Agile event?

If there’s on thing that should be on a Definition of Ready, it’s this:

  • A clearly articulated outcome for every ticket