About the Definition of Ready

The Definition of Ready (DoR), explained. Here’s how to use and make the most of the DoR for your team.


In Scrum, the definition of ready is a list of acceptance criteria a product backlog item must meet before it can be planned in a sprint and selected for completion by the Developers on the team.

The definition of ready in Kanban projects is not at all that different: it’s a list of criteria that a backlog item must meet before it can be picked up by a team member and moved through the workflow.

What Does the Scrum Guide Say?

The Scrum Guide does not explicitly mention the term “definition of ready.”

There is one hint of a definition of ready, though. The guide does say that only backlog items which the team can complete within one sprint should be considered ready for selection during the Sprint planning event.

This means that, in its simplest form, the definition of ready can state that a backlog item must be formulated in such a way that it can be completed by the Scrum team within one sprint. Additional criteria can then be added to the definition of ready, making it a bulleted list.

Example Definition of Ready

We, the members of the Scrum Team, use the definition of ready to determine whether or not a product backlog item is formulated well enough to be selected for development during the Sprint Planning event.

We hereby agree on the following definition of ready for the user stories on the product backlog:

  • The user story follows the format “As a {persona}, I want to {action}, so that I can {goal}.”
  • The user story has clear, concise, and testable acceptance criteria.
  • The user story has been estimated by the Developers on the Scrum Team.
  • The user story can be done within one sprint. That is, it’s estimated to be less story points than the velocity achieved in the last sprint.

If a user story on the product backlog does not meet this definition of ready, it cannot be selected for the sprint backlog; it must go through refinement instead.

Definition of Ready vs. Definition of Done

The definition of ready is not to be confused with the definition of done. Although both of these definitions are documented in the Scrum Team’s ways of working, but they refer to different things.

The definition of ready determines the criteria for when a backlog item is formulated specifically enough so that work on it can begin. The definition of done is for the criteria for when the work can be considered finished.

By Dim Nikolov

Jack of all trades and master of none. Dim is a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM). He has a decade of experience as a stakeholder, member, leader, and coach for agile teams.