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The team struggles with making their tickets ready for development. Mostly because the DoR requires a lot of work (designs, multiple translations, tracking, documentation, etc.).

Normally the team expected to get all of these from the PO. However this mostly does not work - it's really hard to get all of the DoR data and get them correctly. This is an issue, because developers are fed up with taking unprepared tasks to the sprint. It's also hard to refine tasks that aren't prepared, because without full DoR developers can't tell how hard is the given story.

My idea is to add tasks preparation as a part of the upcoming sprint. So:

Sprint #1 - implementation and DoR for Sprint #2 Sprint #2 - implementing things prepared in Sprint #1 and DoR for Sprint #3.

Some of these things may be prepared by the PO, but this would also involve the developers in this process (in case PO isn't able to prepare these).

I'm afraid that this is some kind of anti-pattern, because "work preparation" isn't a product increment, but I may be wrong. What do you thing?

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    What does your backlog grooming look like? Why can't you do it there? – nvoigt Apr 17 '18 at 15:45
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Response is based on The Scrum Guide by the creators of the Scrum framework for product development and later contributors to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development as a general philosophy.

tl;dr

There are some anti-patterns and room for improvement. Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional. Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team. Discuss the concerns and issues as a team in order to work toward improvement.

Definition of Ready (DoR)

Definition of Ready (DoR) is a debated1 2 practice but is not a part of the Scrum framework beyond one statement: Product Backlog items that can be "Done" by the Development Team within one Sprint are deemed "Ready" for selection in a Sprint Planning. One of the issues is that a detailed DoR is often treated as a phase gate for the hand off of deliverables which is rooted in traditional project management. Instead the entire Scrum Team is encouraged to work together collaboratively knowing that not all of the details are available to be planned in detail before work begins.

Product Backlog item refinement

Product Backlog refinement is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items. Product Backlog items can be, but do not need to be (and are often coached not to be), expressed as traditional, fully detailed specifications. Higher ordered Product Backlog items are usually clearer and more detailed than lower ordered ones. To embrace change and maximize the amount of work not done, details and decisions are delayed until they are likely to be realized in the very near term.

Estimates

Estimation is just that: not an absolute and not a promise. Scrum and other agile approaches are value driven through delivering Increments of a high quality product to the customer; they are not plan driven as with traditional, project management processes. More precise estimates are made based on the greater clarity and increased detail. This occurs with refinement through knowledge of completed work.

Sprint effort

If thought is that "only work that is directly visible via the Increment is permitted", then this exposes another misunderstanding of the Scrum framework. Addressing technical debt, improving infrastructure, improving practices, optimizing processes, refinement of expected next Sprint's items, etc. are all valuable efforts for the product. Many of the tasks presented within this specific DoR may be better addressed as part of the effort during the Sprint; i.e. Documentation can be created along with the functional product.

Sprint Retrospective

Candidly discussing and addressing concerns is an activity for the Sprint Retrospective: Create a plan for implementing improvements to the way the Scrum Team does its work. Whether the Product Owner is overwhelmed, the Development Team is frustrated, the customer is not seeing value, etc. the five values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are most needed during this event.

Scrum Master

Most of these issues should be apparent to the Scrum Master and they should be attempting to foster improvement. Where is this individual? Do they have the means (knowledge, ability, etc.) necessary to fulfill this role?

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This would codify a bad practice.

If you can't get enough tasks "ready" to fill a whole sprint you're either not investing enough time into backlog grooming or have too ambitious criteria for "ready".

Without more information your particlar situation sounds like it definitely contains some of the later. What do you need translations for to start a task? How much design are you doing up front? This sounds like you might be doing more like iterative waterfall than scrum.

What would happen if for one sprint you'd simply refuse to schedule any tasks that aren't ready? Your PO would probably be shocked at how little he gets. You could then use that shock to demonstrate the importance of getting tasks ready. As a side effect you should have significant slack which you can then use to do more backlog grooming with the PO. Then the sprint after that you should have enough tasks for your capacity. Repeat and fine tune until you've reached a steady middle ground where you get about as many tasks ready as you are capable of implementing.

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I'm guessing that it takes that long because there is not dedicated time /plan for figuring out definition of done with all the stake holders. For that purpose I suggest two actions:

  • Create a regular plan to get this sorted. Would it be easier to have one hour meeting weekly with all of them, for example? would you have to meet them in groups?

  • Help them help you. For example, could you figure out what's the structure for completing the definition of done and just work on some template? are there some

More concrete help would be followed if you help us understand more about your problem :D

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