You’re done when

Every team that I’ve worked with has eventually come to ask the question: when is it done? And they don’t just mean “done”, they mean, when is it “done-done“? Every time, for whatever reason, this seemingly innocuous question becomes a sticking point of a lot of conversations. Sometimes everyone can agree on what it takes, but there ends up being concerns about the feasibility of the definition in practice. Other times there is some dissent about the points of done related to what is actually in the team’s control. All of these are perfectly valid concerns. Some of those concerns point to larger, organization problems that are being faced and some point to fear of tackling what at first looks like a daunting mountain of change to reach “done-done” of knowing when you are “done-done”.

I’m not going to try to solve all of those issues that come up during those conversations, but I’m going to do my part to try to coax them on a little bit and put out what I’ve started using as my baseline definition of “done-done”.

You are done when:

  1. The code has been merged into all relevant branches.
  2. All automated tests pass on all affected branches.
  3. End user documentation about the change has been written.
  4. The feature or bug fix has been demoed to another member of the team, and that person has had the chance to explore the bug fix/feature and find any potential problems.
  5. Packages for all new releases of the product have been made.
  6. It has been confirmed by the customer to be what they wanted.

In essence it comes down to: the change is made (points 1 and 2), it has been communicated to others (points 3 and 5), it has been shown to be working (point 4), and it is what was actually wanted (point 6).

If you want to take it to the next level you can add another point to being “done-done”:

  1. The customer is using the change and is happy with it.
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