A perfect Definition of Done, undone work and the undone department in a large scale scrum context

Craig Larman talked in his LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) course about

  • an imperfect Definition of Done (DoD)
  • a perfect DoD
  • undone work and
  • the "Undone Department"

and to continuously improve, to reduce (and remove!) the undone work.


We found this quite interesting, especially in the context of Scrum in large companies, where there is usually a lot of undone work, respectively a big "Undone Department", due to long release cycles.

In the 2013 version of the official Scrum Guide the word "undone" is gone, but you can still find it in the 2009 version available on the internet, e.g. http://alistair.cockburn.us/Scrum+Guide.


However, Craigs explanations about undone work sounded somewhat different to me.

(my) Definitions for understanding

  • A perfect DoD consists of all activities needed to deliver (release!) a sprint increment end to end in a feature team
  • The undone work are those activities which the scrum team could not do every sprint
  • An imperfect DoD = a perfect DoD - undone work
  • The "Undone Department" is responsible for doing the undone work for a release.
  • A: The undone work will be done in a release sprint or B: by a seperate team


Examples for undone work:

  • NFRs like performance & load tests
  • (full) Regression Testing


Craig Larmans insights:

  • "You should NOT need a Release Sprint or Undone Department; but these may be a temporary "necessary evil" during transition to LeSS.
  • "Releasing after 10 Sprints is asking for trouble" and "piling up risk" (e.g. like in a three month Release Train with two week sprints). He recommends no more than three sprints("rule of three")
  • "Eliminate all Undone Departments as fast as possible"


Tipp: How to get to a perfect DoD?

  1. List what you need to ship
  2. Create the imperfect DoD
  3. Review Undone Work (every Sprint)


How would I use all this?

Transparency about the undone work, inspect & adapt regularly to reduce the undone work to zero to have true Feature Teams.

Kommentar schreiben

Kommentare: 4
  • #1

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Nils Bernert, Agile Coach & LeanStartup enthusiast, valtech.de
Nils Bernert, Agile Coach & LeanStartup enthusiast, valtech.de

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