Definition of Ready and the INVEST Principle

Definition of Ready and the INVEST Principle

The 'Definition of Ready' and the INVEST criteria are crucial tools in guiding teams to create and manage user stories effectively, ensuring that before the work begins, everyone agrees on what needs to be done and how.

The 'Definition of Ready' (DoR) is the set of agreements made by the development team regarding the conditions that must be met before a user story is accepted into a sprint. Think of it like the preparations necessary before embarking on a journey. Likewise, a user story should not be set into the sprint's motion until the team decides it's "ready" for implementation.

But what exactly makes a user story 'ready'? Here are a few common indicators:

  • Clarity in Acceptance Criteria: Each user story must have clear acceptance criteria so that the outcome is not left up to individual interpretation.
  • Dependencies Resolved: Before a story enters the sprint, it must be free of dependencies that might block progress.
  • Size Appropriateness: A story must be small enough to be completed within a sprint but not too trivial.
  • Estimated: The team must estimate the effort needed to complete the story, fostering a shared understanding.
  • Value-Driven: The story should add clear value to the product and contribute to the project goals.

Marry this preparation with the INVEST principle, and you have a holistic approach to creating an effective user story. INVEST is an acronym that describes the characteristics of a quality user story in an agile framework:

  • Independent: Ideally, the story should stand on its own, not entwined with others.
  • Negotiable: A story is not a rigid contract but allows for discussion and adjustments.
  • Valuable: It must deliver value to the end-users.
  • Estimable: The team needs to be able to estimate how much time the story will take to implement.
  • Small: A user story should be small enough to be able to be coded, tested, and delivered in a single sprint.
  • Testable: There must be a way to verify the story via tests, ensuring it meets the acceptance criteria.

Bringing the 'Definition of Ready' together with INVEST principles is like a pre-flight checklist, ensuring that your project isn't headed for unexpected turbulence. By applying DoR, teams establish the readiness of a story, which improves the sprint's predictability and effectiveness. On top of that, INVEST ensures the story's quality, making sure the team's effort translates into value for the customer.

Letting these guidelines inform the preparation stage before each sprint can mark the difference between a product that merely functions and one that flourishes. By ensuring that work only begins when ready and meets the INVEST criteria, agile teams can maintain a high pace without compromising the quality of the product they deliver.

Remember, ready stories reduce uncertainty and the INVEST criteria elevate their worth. Mastery of combining these principles can transform an agile team's efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately leading to a successful product and a satisfied customer base. As a vital part of agile methodology, internalizing and utilizing the 'Definition of Ready' and INVEST framework will set your team apart in the complex world of project management.

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