Definition of Done for User Stories vs. Bugs

One of the most important concepts in Scrum is the Definition of Done. With it,the Scrum team and stakeholders determine what exactly is needed to finish a user story. Typically it includes one or more of code complete, developer tested, documented and acceptance tested.

In my current project, the system we are building has been accepted by the client and is in production. At the same time, however, new development on the software is taking place. The bugs and user stories resulting from the first and second activity end up on the same product backlog and are worked on by the same Scrum team. For the user stories, we include coding, development testing and documentation in the Definition of Done. This has worked well for us and allowed us to create the system in the first place.

However, the bugs are a different story. These are defects in the already existing software that were found by either an external testing team or in production. At first, we were using the same Definition of Done for the bugs as for the user stories. When delivering software fixes for these bugs, our customer would regularly ask us a series of
questions we had no answers for:

  • which versions/applications are impacted by this bug?
  • which versions need to be patched?
  • does this affect the interface between applications A and B?
  • is there a workaround for it? Has it been documented?

We realized the Definition of Done for the bugs needs to be different from the ones used for regular user stories. By including the questions above, we create transparency about what we need to consider when solving bugs and are able to better meet the customer's expectations.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to use different DoDs for user stories in one backlog?

Comments (3)

  1. Marnix van Wendel de Joode - Reply

    December 19, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Hi Martin,

    I think the answer(s) to your question are in your story.

    "With [the DoD],the Scrum team and stakeholders determine what exactly is needed to finish a user story".

    "By including the questions above, we create transparency ..."

    Since the answers to the asked questions are needed by the customer (you could say they are an acceptance criterium) AND add to the transparency of what the team is doing I think they should be added to the DoD of the 'fixes userstories'.

    To me, it does not feels wrong to add to the DoD for certain user stories, although having a different/more extended DoD for each story does feel off. Having one per type of user story to me feels acceptable, as long as there are not a lot of types ;-).

  2. Brendan - Reply

    December 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    To rephrase your story. You are using the same definitions of done for the development phase and the operational phase. Since these are markedly different phases, yes you should absolutely determine a new DoD in my humble opinion.

  3. Martin - Reply

    December 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I think the 4 questions might be just as relevant for new development in an operational system. Any new development might affect interfaces/existing workarounds and obsolete versions.

    Maybe you should extend the DoD?

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