Scrum Rules: Your Scrum Master Helps the Team Expand the Definition of "Done"

September 2, 2020
4 minute read

Delivery of potentially “shippable” product increments each Sprint is at the heart of a true Scrum implementation. In order to help the team properly implement Scrum and derive the intended benefits of empirical process control and collaboration with stakeholders, the Scrum Master needs to help the team expand its definition of “done” at least until it is able to deliver a potentially complete “shippable” increment of product every Sprint.

The Scrum Master should help the team to revise its definition of “done” every Sprint with the necessary adjustments being made as the result of the Sprint Retrospective. As Scrum teams mature, it is expected that their definitions of “done” will expand to include more stringent criteria for higher quality. The Scrum Master should always be looking ahead to new ways that the team can expand its definition of “done” in order to deliver higher quality product to the stakeholders and exceed their expectations. The ultimate goal of expanding the definition of “done” is so that the Product Owner can make a business decision every Sprint about shipping (or not) without any need to consider delays due to outstanding technical issues or bureaucratic red tape.

When starting out, a minimal definition of “done” should include the following activities and standards: coding and unit testing, manual acceptance testing, confirmation by the Product Owner, and anything else that your organization would normally do in order to prepare to promote the code from the development environment into the test environment (e.g. developer documentation, developer release notes). The Scrum Master uses four basic approaches to help a team expend its definition of “done” further. First, to build the skill set of the team. For example, if the current members of the team do not have the skill to do database schema modifications, then training or adding staff to the team with these skills will help the team expand its definition of “done”. Second, to increase the authority of the team. For example, if the current team is not allowed to promote work into the production environment and has to pass the work off to IT or DevOps, then build the relationships, change the policies, etc. to enable the team do do that promotion. Third, to automate more work. For example, manual testing should be replaced by automated testing to enable the team to have more time for other aspects of quality. And fourth, to remove wasteful activities from the organization so that the team is not spending time on them. For example, to focus on user experience and reduce the time wasted on building comprehensive user documentation. Other aspects of done-ness should include quality, organizational policies and standards as well as compliance and legal requirements.

The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:

– Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality;

– Helping the Development Team to create high-value products;

– Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;

— The Scrum Guide

Certified ScrumMaster® – Guaranteed to Run! ✅

Certified Scrum Product Owner® – Guaranteed to Run! ✅

All virtual learning events run from 9am to 4:30pm Toronto/New York time and are 100% virtual.  Both CSM and CSPO courses have approximately 2 hours of required pre-work through our e-learning portal, and require you to have high speed internet for Zoom video conferencing and Miro virtual white-boarding.

Maybe attending a virtual training session isn’t for you, but you would like to acknowledge that this article helped you out somehow…

Like what you’re reading?

Sign up for the BERTEIG Real Agility newsletter to have articles like this one delivered directly to your inbox twice a month!

Berteig Consulting

Empower Your Entire Organization with BERTEIG Consulting in Agile, Scrum, Kanban, SAFe and LEAN.

Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
We are a referral centric business. And as such, we stand ready, willing and passionately able to serve anybody important to you by giving them perspective, advice, recommendations, and treating them in a very special way.