Is DoD supposed to include a Product Owner's approval, i.e. does DoD for User Stories include the following:

  • the User Story is approved by PO using Acceptance Criteria for this Story

Or does DoD mean that a User Story is ready for demonstrating to a Product Owner, i.e. DoD doesn't include the line above?

  • You can look at the DoD as the list of acceptance criteria that all of the user stories must have in common. Then each story may have additional acceptance criteria of its own. See for example this post visual-paradigm.com/scrum/…
    – Bogdan
    Dec 8 '20 at 18:53
  • @Bogdan I corrected and clarified the question.
    – Daniel
    Dec 8 '20 at 19:23

The Definition of Done is under the Scrum Team's control, either being derived from an organizational standard or created by the Scrum Team for the product being developed. If the Definition of Done comes from the organization, it becomes a minimum standard for the Scrum Team to follow and may be made more stringent.

The Scrum Guide, as of the November 2020 revision, doesn't provide any guidance as to what must be in the Definition of Done, leaving it entirely up to the Scrum Team. Therefore, the Scrum Team could state that a Product Backlog Item does not meet the Definition of Done until it has been appropriately reviewed and approved by the Product Owner. Just because it's permitted, however, doesn't mean that it's a good idea.

If either the Product Owner or the Developers feel that approval is necessary as part of the Definition of Done, I suspect that there are larger issues to be resolved. Once a Product Backlog Item is selected for a Sprint and included in the Sprint Backlog, the Developers should be able to get that work Done on their own. After all, the Scrum Guide does say that Developers "are committed to creating any aspect of a usable Increment each Sprint" and an Increment is not created until a Product Backlog Item meets the Definition of Done. There's no reason for anyone outside of the Developers to be involved in meeting the Definition of Done.

  • 2
    I upvoted this because I agree that it surfaces deeper problems, likely of trust between the Product Owner and the Developers. If the Scrum Team as a whole can't agree that they've met the Sprint Goal and delivered a viable Increment, there are process problems that need to be addressed. Systemic gatekeeping by an individual creates a hierarchy within the team, and that's explicitly anti-Scrum.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Dec 8 '20 at 19:58


To be considered a part of an increment a Product Backlog Item (BPI) must:

  • respect the DoD;
  • respect any additional specific acceptance criteria it may have;
  • be accepted by the PO.

More details

The Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product - from the ScrumGuide

That means that the Definition Of Done is a set of global acceptance criteria that all of the product backlog items must pass in order to be considered "completed", "demonstrable", "releasable", and ... as per the definition ... "done".

The product owner's approval is not part of the DoD itself. If something is not "done" as per the definition of done, then it shouldn't even reach the PO for any approval (which in this case won't be accepted by the PO because you go to them and show them something that is not "done" as per everyone's the agreed understanding of what "done" generally means).

Note that PBIs can also have specific acceptance criteria in addition to the ones in the DoD, meaning that a PBI can be considered "done" based on the general definition of done, but not actually be "done" considering its additional acceptance criteria.

  • 2
    Unless the Scrum Team agrees to it, "approved by the PO" is generally an anti-pattern that isn't supported by anything documented in the Scrum framework. Scrum is a collaborative process, not an approval-seeking one. Either it meets the DoD and the acceptance criteria defined during Sprint Planning, or it does not.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Dec 8 '20 at 18:58
  • @ToddA.Jacobs: I agree that it is not about seeking approval, but the PO does have the final word on each PBI and if it gets or not included in the increment (maybe this increment or the next, etc). Maybe "accepted" would be a better wording.
    – Bogdan
    Dec 8 '20 at 19:06
  • 2
    I agree with Todd. Nothing in the Scrum Guide talks about Product Owner involvement once a Product Backlog Item has been selected for the Sprint Backlog. Once it's in the Sprint Backlog, the Developers are the ones who get it to Done and incorporate it into the Increment. I don't see "approved by the PO" as something prohibited, but I would also consider it an anti-pattern if the PO needs to approve every PBI or even the Increment before Sprint Planning and it's likely to be indicative of other issues with Product Backlog management, including ordering and refinement.
    – Thomas Owens
    Dec 8 '20 at 19:25
  • It may be worth mentioning that the Product Owner is a member of the Scrum Team, and is certainly acting within that role to point out if a PBI hasn't met the Definition of Done or the team's planned acceptance criteria, or if it isn't ready to be demoed or reviewed as part of the Sprint Review. That's not quite the same thing as approving the completed item, but certainly gives the Product Owner a voice on "doneness" within the intent of the framework.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Dec 8 '20 at 19:52
  • @ThomasOwens: I got stuck on the wording from the question. I meant "accepting". You might say that's not much different, but the PO should look over the PBIs before they are incorporated in the increment. You might think at this as an anti-pattern, but it would be worse if at the review meeting the PO rejects the PBI because they don't like it in some way (because of UI aesthetics, for ex). Your comment makes it sound like the PO is fine to disengage after sprint planning, with which I don't agree. The PO needs to stay involved. Making sure things are "done" is their ultimate responsibility
    – Bogdan
    Dec 8 '20 at 20:03

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