Ready, Done and UnDone Work

We sure use a lot of English words in funny ways in Scrum, don’t we? Three of them that tend to confuse people are Ready, Done, and UnDone. I’d like to explain them here. To do so, I’ll describe these three words by walking through a trip to Dan’s Lube ‘n’ Go for an oil change.


Here are the steps at Dan’s Lube ‘n’ Go for an oil change:

  1.  You decide to get an oil change, turn into Dan’s Lube ‘n’ Go and get in line.
  1. While in line, one of the Dan’s Lube ‘n’ Go personnel comes out and asks you what services you want. The personnel locate your vehicle in their database (adding it if necessary), and verify that they have the oil filter, windshield wipers, etc., that you need. Your car is now Ready to be worked on.
  1. Once you get to the front of the line, they drive your car into the bay and do the work that is on their Doneness Checklist. The personnel take out your car, park it and give the keys to the manager. The work is now Done (also called Potentially Releasable in Scrum).
  1. The manager finds you and reviews the work that was done to your car. This may include discussing next steps, additional work that needs to be done, and so on. Once you are both satisfied, you pay for the work that was done to your car. This additional step (paying for the car) is called UnDone work – it was not part of the team’s checklist, but it must be done before the car is actually Releasable.
  1. Finally, the manager releases the car (gives you the keys), and you get in your car and drive away.

What does this mean for your work? I suggest it helps you think about how you strategize the way you do work. Your Team and Organization must ask themselves the questions:

  • What work needs to be Done in order to receive meaningful feedback from functional and quality Reviews?
  • What work should (not can, not must, but should) be postponed until after the Reviews come back with “good enough” or “I’ll take it”?
  • Do we have a common understanding of the difference between ‘not Done’ and UnDone work?
  • These discussions are not easy, but they are necessary. I hope this Dan’s Lube ‘n’ Go analogy helps you and your Team with Ready, Done and UnDone work.

Like these analogies? Looking for more real world examples to better your Scrum knowledge and practice? We’ve got training for that.

As Always, Stay Agile.