Three things to consider before agile work can be ‘ready’ - Unlock Your Team's Genius

Three things to consider before agile work can be ‘ready’

By Georg Fasching | agile practice

Apr 11
Definition of Ready - Power of Threes

Learn the purpose and value of defining the term ‘ready’ agile product management

“In agile product management it’s common practice to define ready, but what should that definition look like?” Click To Tweet

Tip 1: Know the purpose

The purpose of collectively defining ‘ready’ is to ensure that any uncertainty is lowered significantly, making it completely reasonable to take the item into the sprint.

Once you know the purpose you can work out how your team might actually benefit from having your very own definition of ‘ready’. Each team is different and will benefit in different ways. Once it’s established, your definition of ready will act as insurance policy for team. It creates an agreed level of refinement you’re willing to commit to before starting the work.

Write down the criteria that make up your definition of ready and use it as a checklist. Hold it up to each sprint feature before you take it into the next iteration for a good chance of completing each and every item.

Tip 2: Value versus risk

In each refinement session, you’re balancing the value of the item against the risk in definition of ready. It is a delicate balancing act to spend the right amount of time understanding what’s being asked without over analysing and reducing the amount of value in the output.

With your very own definition of ready you can do exactly the amount of refinement required and no more. Be sure to factor in all potential risks when deliberating on the work. Personally, I’ve worked with a team that had very specific requirements for work sign off. It would’ve been very risky to leave the sign off until the inside of the planning iteration, so we agreed to do more work upfront to counterbalance that risk.

This is an extreme scenario to show how the definition of ready can be used. Generally the goal is to maximise the value of work not done, and keep the work before the iteration as light as possible.

Tip 3: Ready to review your ready?

You might start with an ace definition of ready at the beginning of the product life cycle or when the team is first forming. As is expected, things change and people’s expectations of your work change with it. This is a perfect opportunity to update your definition of ready.

Just because you formally agreed on it previously doesn’t mean it must stay that way forevermore. Take what you’ve learned from your previous definition and adapt it to fit these new requirements.


I hope these tips help you to understand and implement your own definition of ‘ready’ during your backlog refinement meetings. As a result, the consistency in readiness of sprint features and the reduction of overall risk will help you to run better end-to-end sprint iterations for your team.

If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, leave a comment below or send me a message through my website. Thanks for reading. See you next time!


About the Author

An agilist since 2010 and in product management since the 90s, Georg Fasching helps digital creative agencies delight their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

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