Degrees of Done: The Difference Between Developed, Deployed, and Decommissioned

Published on September 6th, 2016

What is done? If the question involves software, the answer depends on your area of responsibility. A developer may define done as the moment the application works the very first time. An operations engineer may define done as the moment it's launched to a customer and currently available. The business may define done as the last moment in time the last end-user is still alive and using the application.

The challenge with the question is that we all have a different definition of what the finish line looks like. And without a common agreement on which degree of done that we're talking about, tension will mount. A developer pulling last minute heroics to ship a buggy-but-kinda-working feature may set the business up with an unrealistic expectation of the lifetime cost of maintaining that feature, particularly when end-users depend on it. On the flip side, a business that doesn't explicitly state these expectations up front may unknowingly set a developer up for failure because their estimates may not account for the life cycle beyond the initial development.

We can all benefit by understanding these different degrees of done, and making sure we're all on the same page as to which version we're referencing each time we use it.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.