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Acceptance Criteria and the Definition of Done

Recently some of the teams I’m coaching found it difficult to distinguish between acceptance criteria for user stories and the definition of done. Here’s my attempt to make the distinction clear: 
 

  • For a user story or feature to be “potentially shippable” it needs to meet the expectations of the Product Owner and be of the agreed quality.
  • The Product Owner’s expectations are phrased as acceptance test criteria. Acceptance test criteria are conditions of satisfaction specific for each individual user story. (For more on acceptance criteria read “On Acceptance Criteria”).
  • The user story’s (internal) quality is defined in the “Done” statement. The “Done” statement is applicable to all user stories in the project.

 

Here’s an example:

 
User Story:
“As a music lover I want to be able to pay for my album by VISA card”
 

How story points work

One of my clients is a small software development house that does custom development in the form of development projects for clients . I helped them to successfully introduce Agile (Scrum with XP) and both the team and business managers are really happy with it. 

As they liked our methods of planning and estimating (story points and velocity) the account managers and sales team were discussing the options to relate story points to dollar values. 
 
To explain why I think this is very risky and not advisable I wanted to give them some background.
 
“How big” vs. “How long”
Story points are units that are used to size a piece of functionality or work. Sizing in this case means that story points indicate “how big” a piece of work is. 
 
This is often confused with “how long” it takes to implement it but in fact “how big” and “how long” are very different things:  

  • The “how long” is highly dependent on which developer is performing the work 
  • The “how big” bears no relationship to who is performing the work