The Power of “done”

My agile scrumtastic friend Andrew Tsui invited me to join him for an evening meetup of Agile NYC led by the master of all scrum masters, Ken Schwaber. My primary takeaway from the session is the importance attached to the definition of “done”.

Too many software development teams move onto the next set of desired features before they have reached a full complete, tested, and shippable state on the current set of features. This creates an over-estimated sense of the velocity at which the development team is progressing. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as the team picking up where they left off and completing the unfinished pieces before a customer release. Leaving loose ends in each iteration (sprint) is actually a compounding problem.

A team that consistently falls short of “done” ends up with a required stabilization stage which lasts much longer than the sum of all the missing elements from each iteration. The problem is easily rectified by allowing the development team extra time per sprint (short-term) in order to dramatically reduce the stabilization stage and save time in the longer-term (release).

Another nice side effect of slower velocity and increased amount of “done” per iteration is that the code base staves off the complexity that naturally slows velocity over time. Thus velocity can be maintained at a higher rate over a longer period.

3 responses to “The Power of “done”

  1. Pingback: Selling Scrum to Skeptics: Going slow to get Done Done | aktually

  2. My favorite definition (software or otherwise) is :: “Done is when I don’t have to think about it anymore.” There is never a point in software where anything is completely done, because requirements never stop moving. You are always behind the speed of your client’s thought and desires. The key being the targeting of fluid client desire.

  3. Interesting idea, but it does beg the question, “Why don’t you have to think about it any more”. If user needs are always shifting, aren’t you thinking about it, but in a different way?

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