Definition of Ready: What It Is & How to Create (Example)

Max 6min read
definition of ready

What Is a Definition of Ready?

DoR Definition

Within the scrum agile methodology, the Definition of Ready outlines the prerequisites for a story to transition from the backlog to development. In line with agile principles, “Ready” typically denotes a story ready for immediate action.

A Definition of Ready (DoR) is an essential tool that helps teams establish transparency and alignment. Creating a shared understanding of what qualifies a product backlog item as “ready,” streamlines decision-making and workflow.

Before starting work, it ensures everyone understands key aspects like customer needs, project goals, and technical requirements. The team examines each item for clarity, value, feasibility, and time estimates. This vetting process prevents wasted effort by confirming an item truly gets prepared for development.

Notably, the DoR complements the Definition of Done (DoD). While the former focuses on bringing items into a sprint, the latter focuses on releasing high-quality work. Together, they provide clear bookends, minimizing ambiguity around work states.

Items only transition from backlog to active sprint work once the team agrees they satisfy the DoR. This consensus-based approach reduces rework from unclear or incomplete items. It makes expectations transparent upfront.

Definition of ready in agile serves three crucial roles:

  • It promotes a shared understanding of essential knowledge before commencing work. Common ground is critical for alignment.
  • It acts as a feasibility check to avoid roadblocks. Surface uncertainties early for better outcomes.
  • It supports efficient sprint planning and seamless execution by establishing criteria beforehand.

Teams can hit the ground running with well-defined readiness prerequisites.

An Example of Definition of Ready in Agile

You and your team have been working hard to establish clear processes that ensure the work is high quality and you aren’t discovering issues too late. You want to set yourselves up for success by ensuring stories are well-defined and understood before development starts.

So, you’ve created a definition of ready that outlines some criteria a story needs to meet before being pulled into a sprint. Think of it as a checklist to ensure you have all your ducks in a row.

The DoR is not overly burdensome or will not slow you down. It’s just a few common sense checkpoints to promote transparency and set expectations. For a story to be considered “ready,” it needs:

  • A clear description of what needs they need to build written in a way anyone on the team can understand
  • Acceptance criteria defined that outline how you’ll know when it gets done
  • Any assumptions or risks addressed upfront
  • An estimated effort provided within defined tolerances
  • Stakeholder buy-in secured

Then, once a story meets those prerequisites, it can officially get groomed into a sprint backlog. It helps empower you to have informed discussions during planning and reduces surprises. It’s like doing the prep work now to focus on deployment later without hiccups.

Key Components of Definition of Ready

A crucial aspect of implementing a definition of ready lies in understanding its six fundamental components, collectively known as the INVEST method. These components guide effective agile planning, ensuring your team is well-prepared before diving into any project.


Independence is paramount. Each backlog item should stand independently, devoid of dependencies on other tasks. This self-contained nature fosters efficiency and shields the team from unnecessary work. Eliminating interdependence will pave the way for a smoother and more focused workflow.


Flexibility is the key to success in agile environments. A negotiable task embraces adaptability. Rigidity can stifle creativity and hinder progress. Therefore, a task within the DoR framework should be open to negotiation, allowing the team to explore alternative options that may enhance the overall outcome.


Every task should have a clear purpose and, more importantly, contribute tangible value to the product, customer, and business. By anchoring each task in significance, the team remains aligned with overarching goals, ensuring that efforts get directed towards meaningful outcomes.


Clarity in estimation is a cornerstone of effective planning. A task within the DoR must be feasible, achievable, and measurable. Providing your team a clear understanding of the time and effort required ensures realistic planning and resource allocation. It becomes crucial in sprints with multiple tasks, where each component demands a well-defined estimate.


Manageability is a key consideration when defining tasks within the DoR. Each task should be appropriately sized, avoiding unnecessary complexity. If a task appears overly intricate, the ability to break it down into smaller, more manageable components becomes imperative. This practice prevents chaos and safeguards against burnout, ensuring that the team can navigate their workload without undue stress.


You can test a well-defined task against specified success and completion criteria. These criteria, grounded in business and user needs, provide a tangible benchmark for the team to evaluate task completion. The testability of a task ensures that it aligns with the intended goals and meets the expectations of both the team and stakeholders, contributing to a robust and accountable workflow.

Steps for Creating a DoR

Creating an effective definition of ready takes some thoughtful teamwork. 

  • First, ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities so there’s no duplication or gaps in work.
  • It’s also essential to get input from other key stakeholders. They may have useful insights into what should be considered “ready” from different perspectives. Getting buy-in upfront can prevent scope creep later on.
  • Next, determine the format and structure of your definition of ready checklist. Will it be a simple list or more involved? What criteria define a piece of work as prepared and polished enough to start? Discuss as a team what determines readiness.
  • An organized backlog is invaluable here. Review items to confirm they align with goals and haven’t become outdated. Only ready items that provide value should move forward.
  • User stories are the backbone. Identify them clearly and check they are defined well enough to estimate feasibility.
  • Finally, ensure each criterion meets the INVEST guidelines for well-formed requirements. Independence, negotiation, value, estimation, size, and testability are excellent checks for readiness.

With open communication and collective understanding, your team can craft a definition of ready-to-set expectations and get work to the highest standard before starting. Consistent preparation will help projects advance smoothly.

Benefits of Having a Clear Definition of Ready

Here are some key benefits of having a clear definition of ready in agile project management:

  • Enhances communication within the team: It helps the team better communicate whether a task is ready to be worked on, minimizing potential confusion and delays.
  • Improves efficiency: The team can quickly determine if they fully understand a task’s requirements and can execute it efficiently.
  • Reduces errors: Having clarity on what “ready” means based on the DoR can help mitigate errors during a sprint by ensuring you handle dependencies and acceptance criteria are clear.
  • Promotes collaboration: It acts as a shared agreement between team members on what constitutes ready work, facilitating collaboration.
  • Gives the team ownership and control: Defining readiness criteria empowers the team to manage their workload.
  • Helps refine the product backlog: Examining items against the DoR keeps the backlog well-groomed by determining the relevance and feasibility of tasks.
  • Allows for better estimations: The team can more accurately estimate effort for a task when they understand its level of readiness.
  • Reduces risk of incomplete work: Meeting the DoR criteria aims to reduce unexpected additional tasks that might lead to missing sprint commitments.


A clear definition of ready is essential for any scrum team that wants to maximize their productivity and deliver high-quality outcomes every sprint. 

While no process is perfect, establishing acceptance criteria for user stories upfront helps reduce rework and delays caused by incomplete or unclear requirements. It ensures the development team has everything they need to start implementation immediately at the start of a sprint. 

Most importantly, it promotes collaboration between business stakeholders and technical teams to develop a shared understanding of what success looks like. When implemented properly, a definition of ready streamlines the sprint planning process and sets the team up for sprint delivery success. 

Overall, taking the time to prequalify stories will pay dividends in more reliable delivery and continuous process improvement over time.


What is a good definition of ready?

A good definition of ready is an agreement within a scrum team that specifies when a task, story, or backlog item is ready for implementation. It ensures that the item is actionable, understood, and meets the team’s criteria for starting work.

What is the INVEST criteria definition of ready?

The INVEST criteria for a definition of ready involve ensuring that a user story is:

  • Independent: Not reliant on other stories.
  • Negotiable: Open for discussion and change.
  • Valuable: Providing value to the user or business.
  • Estimable: Possible to estimate and size.
  • Small: Of a manageable size for implementation.
  • Testable: Clear in its acceptance criteria for testing
What is the DoR checklist?

The DoR checklist typically includes:

  • Clear description and acceptance criteria for a user story or task.
  • Estimation or sizing.
  • Dependencies identified and resolved.
  • Acceptance criteria defined for testing.
  • Necessary resources and information available
Who defines DoR in scrum?

The team, including the product owner and the development team, collaboratively defines the Definition of Ready (DoR) in scrum. It’s crucial to ensure that items are well-prepared before work begins

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.