On our assessment we ask this question (the questioned are listed in order of maturity, most mature being listed last):
What are the team's standards for assessing "done" (completeness)?
- Team has no Definition of Done
- Team has a Definition of Done that doesn't include testing
- Team has a Definition of Done which produces potentially shippable software
- Definition of Done is augmented for each story with acceptance criteria
- Team has a Definition of Ready
This team lead's was confused that "ready" was most mature. I explained to him that the intent behind this question is really to gauge a team's ability to flow value. Immature teams don't finish stories within a sprint, i.e. not "DONE." Once teams learn to get stories done within a sprint they start to flow value more consistently. When a team reaches that point, the next level is to make sure that every story that is planned for a sprint is adequately prepared so that the team has an even better chance to complete that story, and potentially flow more value.
This article by Sutherland and Jakobsen is a must read (and Jakobsen presented it at Agile 2009): Scrum and CMMI: Going from Good to Great.
- Have been discussed by the product owner and team (maybe there are some wireframes, or mockups as part of the conversation)
- Are clear to the team as to what is involved
- Have clear acceptance criteria (maybe more than 1) to signal to the team when they have met the expectation of the product owner
- Are estimated (estimation can only really be done when you have acceptance criteria)
By the time a team and the product owner scrub and groom the backlog, the stories should match the above description to consider them ready. If a team only plans a sprint of ready stories then they are less likely to create waste in the sprint going back and forth getting clarification from the product owner.