Defining Done

Definition of Done: Who Should Define Done?

In Agile, Innovation, Lean, Product Management, Product Management Facts, product manager, Product Marketing, Product Owner, Product Teams, Project Management, Scrum, Take Charge Product Management, The Study of Product Team Performance, User Experience by [email protected]Leave a Comment

Today is the second post in a series exploring insights gained from the latest Global Study of Product Team Performance. Let’s consider what our survey participants told us in two more key areas: definition of done and first level engineering manager responsibilities.

Question: Who defines your product team’s definition of done that you apply against every feature or story? 

Response Percentage
Created by the product team (collectively) 29.4%
Engineering Management 4.7%
Product Owner 15.6%
Product Manager 19.5%
Management 23.4%
No one! We wing it! 7.4%


Insights into Answers

Having a clear definition of done is a basic element of a successful product management process. Yet, only 29.4% of respondents indicated that a collective decision by the product team established this important definition. It is disturbing that 7.4% of respondents say their product teams have not defined “done” and that their companies have not designated anyone to define it.


Question: Which of the following activities do first level engineering managers in your organization undertake beyond day-to-day management of the team? (Choose up to five.)

Response Percentage
Not much of anything as far as I can tell 5.90%
We don’t have managers 7.90%
Manage technical debt 23.20%
Act as scrum manager 24.80%
Champion engineering best practices 34.30%
Work as an individual contributor to develop the product 41.70%
Act as project manager/direct project activities/manage project portfolio 41.70%
Collaborate with product management to integrate technical items into the product backlog 43,70%
On-board new engineers 46.10%
Grow skills and careers, mentor, counsel, and coach 50.80%
Match/assign people to teams/projects 52.40%


The Roles Fulfilled by First Level Engineering Managers

Clearly, in most organizations surveyed first level engineering managers’ duties extend well beyond day-to-day team management. The exceptions to this conclusion are the 7.9% of respondents from teams that have no managers and the 5.9% who hold that these managers do little beyond day-to-day management.

Going Forward

Next week I’ll share more insights from our latest research. Plus, I’ll continue building toward the revelation of the six new statistically significant factors that separate high performing teams from the pack.


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