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The Importance of a definition of ready in Agile Development


In the journey from project to product transformation, there lies a fundamental practice that serves as a compass guiding toward efficiency - the "definition of ready".


This invaluable concept is an agreed-upon set of criteria that signifies a task or a user story is fully baked and ready to move into the execution phase. It acts as the linchpin that holds the transformation process together, ensuring that every task is fully understood, actionable, and valuable.

By utilizing the "definition of ready", teams can significantly reduce uncertainties, foster clear communication, and ultimately, transform projects into successful products seamlessly.

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Society changed and leaders need support in the way how they lead and design their digital product organizations, that is the reason why the ADAPT Methodology® was created, but now let’s get a deep dive into the realms of using the Definition Of Ready.

Discovering the Intricacies of the "Definition of Ready"

The road to effective project management is paved with several critical elements, and one such cornerstone is the "definition of ready". But what does it mean? How does it help streamline project management? Let's embark on this enlightening journey.

What is the Definition of Ready?

The "definition of ready" is a critical term in the world of project management, particularly within the Agile framework. It’s a checklist or a set of agreed-upon criteria that a task or user story needs to meet before it can be considered ready to be worked on during a sprint. It’s a form of agreement between the product owner and the development team, ensuring all parties have a clear and shared understanding of what needs to be done. It’s akin to a green signal, suggesting, "We're all set for action!"

The Importance of a Clear Definition of Ready

Establishing a clear "definition of ready" offers a plethora of benefits. This concept serves as a filter, preventing any incomplete or ambiguous tasks from entering the sprint. Not only does this promote clarity and cohesion within a team, but it also saves time and resources, leading to improved productivity and efficiency.

Why is a Definition of Ready Crucial for Team Dynamics?

When teams share a clear understanding of when a task is ready to be tackled, it reduces the chance of misunderstandings and disagreements. A shared "definition of ready" leads to enhanced cooperation, fosters trust, and paves the way for smoother, more efficient operations.

The Impact of the Definition of Ready on Project Timeline

The definition of ready provides a solid foundation for a predictable timeline. By ensuring each task meets specific criteria before being worked on, teams can better manage their time, reducing the chances of project delays.

Crafting Your Own Definition of Ready

While the precise criteria may vary depending on your team and project, a well-structured "definition of ready" generally includes a few common elements.

What Should a Definition of Ready Include?

  1. User Story: A detailed and clear user story, helping the team understand the goal of the task.
  2. Acceptance Criteria: Well-defined acceptance criteria that outline the specific requirements for the task to be deemed complete.
  3. Dependencies Identified: Any dependencies on other tasks or resources should be identified.
  4. Estimatable: The task should be estimable in terms of time and resources.
  5. Small Enough to Fit into a Sprint: The task should be small enough to be completed within a single sprint.

The Role of the Team in Defining the 'Ready'

The team plays a significant role in establishing the "definition of ready". As the people who will carry out the task, they must be fully aligned with the criteria and feel confident in their ability to meet them. The process should be collaborative, ensuring everyone’s input is considered.

Implementing the Definition of Ready in Agile Methodology

Given its roots in Agile project management, the "definition of ready" is an essential tool within this methodology. Here's how it’s typically used.

The Definition of Ready in Scrum

In Scrum, the "definition of ready" is used as a part of Sprint Planning to ensure that the selected product backlog items are in a ready state. It's an agreement between the product owner and the Scrum team that sets the expectations for what’s required in a user story.

Definition of Ready in Kanban

Though Kanban doesn’t traditionally use sprints, the "definition of ready" can still play an important role. It helps teams identify when a task is prepared to move from the backlog to the "to do" column, thereby facilitating flow and reducing cycle time.

The Difference: Definition of Ready vs. Definition of Done

While the "definition of ready" and the "definition of done" might seem similar, they serve different purposes. The former is a pre-emptive measure, ensuring clarity before the work begins, whereas the latter is a reflective tool, confirming the completion of a task.

Clarifying Tasks: The Role of Definition of Ready

The definition of ready serves as a guideline for the commencement of tasks. It helps to clarify what’s expected of a task before it enters a sprint or a work phase.

Validating Completion: The Role of Definition of Done

On the other hand, the definition of done is a checklist used to validate whether a task or story has been completed to the desired standard. It’s used to signal that no further work is needed on a task.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Definition of Ready

Why is the definition of ready important in agile development?

The definition of ready is a crucial tool in agile development as it ensures a shared understanding of tasks, promotes team alignment, and reduces rework, thereby boosting productivity.

Can the definition of ready change during a project?

Yes, the definition of ready can be adapted as the project evolves. However, any changes should be made in agreement with all team members to maintain clarity and cohesion.

How does the definition of ready help in managing project risks?

By ensuring that tasks meet specific criteria before they're worked on, the definition of ready can help identify potential issues or risks early, giving teams more time to plan and manage them effectively.

What’s the difference between the definition of ready and the definition of done?

While both are essential, they serve different purposes. The definition of ready sets the criteria a task must meet before being worked on, while the definition of done is used to confirm that a task has been completed as expected.

Can the definition of ready be used outside of Agile methodologies?

Absolutely! While it originates from Agile, the concept can be applied in any project management framework to enhance clarity and efficiency.

Who should be involved in creating the definition of ready?

The entire team, including the product owner and the development team, should be involved in creating the definition of ready. It should be a collaborative process to ensure everyone’s input is considered.


The "definition of ready" is a robust and dynamic tool that can drastically enhance a team's effectiveness and productivity. By fostering mutual understanding and setting clear expectations, it paves the way for smoother, more efficient project management. Embrace this powerful concept, and watch your team's performance soar!

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