The Acceptance Criteria Document: Why Is It Necessary?

In software development, fulfilling acceptance criteria is a must before a project can be deemed completed by the requesting internal or external customer. These criteria differ based on the specifics, but typically entail a user action followed by a particular state or behaviour. Acceptance criteria, alongside user stories, serve as a blueprint delineating how the product will be utilised.

It’s important to differentiate between requirements and acceptance criteria. Although they may overlap in some aspects, they are different concepts. Requirements encompass all the features and functionalities requested by the client for a program, whereas acceptance criteria are the measures employed to evaluate finished projects.

In the sections below, we’ll delve into acceptance criteria and examine them comprehensively, including who should be the intended recipients of the acceptance criteria document, what should be listed in an acceptance criteria checklist, practical instances, and tips on designing an acceptance criteria document.

What are the Potential Advantages of Utilising Acceptance Criteria?

The main advantage of integrating acceptance criteria is that it provides clarity on the project’s end goal before initiating it. Although it may appear trivial, not having a clear vision in mind can have significant consequences. Failing to adequately define the desired outcome can lead to a considerable investment of resources in an unsatisfactory result for the customer.

Recognising the customer’s needs can foster effective communication both with them and internally, leading to a more targeted project scope and the appropriate allocation of staff. Moreover, having acceptance criteria can preserve the company’s reputation. The supplementary video details additional advantages of this strategy.

Who are the Intended Recipients of Acceptance Criteria?

To attain the best possible outcomes, it’s crucial to comprehend the intended audience for acceptance criteria. Regardless of whether the client originates from within or outside the company, the criteria are designed for various stakeholders.

As a software developer in a corporate setting, it’s imperative to maintain positive relationships with both the department managers that require the program and those in your own department. As an engineer responsible for software development serving clients, it’s vital to ensure satisfaction from both the customer and your higher-ups.

It’s natural to wonder who bears the responsibility of developing success criteria. In answer to your question: Anyone possessing a comprehensive comprehension of the procedure and the capability to articulate its significant components in writing would serve as an appropriate candidate. A manager who isn’t involved in product development would be the optimal choice. Those who are most qualified to establish the acceptance criteria should be the ones to create them.

What Must Be Listed in the Acceptance Criteria Checklist?

The following checklist for acceptance criteria can be employed as a guide to guarantee the fulfilment of comprehensive acceptance criteria. The specifications must meet the following conditions to be accepted:

  • Keep things simple to ensure comprehensibility for everyone.

    Remember that everyone, from engineers to managers to investors, may be reviewing the acceptance criteria.
  • Establish a precise grading system for success/failure.

    Simply put, those involved must be able to verify whether or not the requirements have been met.
  • Attempt to quantify the results.

    Since they determine when a project is completed, these specifications should be easily testable.
  • Be flexible.

    In essence, people should have alternatives for how they can be accommodated.
  • Perform correctly on all devices and software.

    Only when all available platforms have been thoroughly tested can a software project be considered finished.
  • Take into account the objectives of the software’s target audience.

    Whenever creating acceptance criteria, it’s crucial to remember the end user, whether they are employees of your organisation or your client’s.

Can You Provide an Example of Acceptance Criteria?

User Stories and Acceptance Criteria collaborate to ensure that the product fulfils the expectations of the users. User Stories are commonly composed in the following format: “As a [user type], I want to [perform a specific action] so that [I can attain a desired result]”. For instance, a User Story could state “As a budget-conscious grocery shopper, I want to search different grocery stores to find the most affordable prices for the items I intend to buy”.

The recognised format for delineating acceptance criteria is as follows: “[Scenario]. When [an action is undertaken] in the context of [the pertinent situation], it shall result in [the anticipated outcome]. In this specific instance, an individual is researching the nearby grocery stores to determine which one presents the most economical option for the items they want to buy. This procedure can be hastened by utilizing the ‘Find Best Deal’ button that arranges product prices in ascending order from lowest to highest based on the criteria entered by the shopper, which includes at least two vendors and a distinct product.

Pointers for Formulating a Robust Acceptance Criteria Document

Lastly, here are some recommendations for composing robust acceptance criteria.

  • Commence drafting the acceptance criteria right away, preferably prior to commencing any actual development work.
  • Devise quantifiable acceptance criteria, while also allowing for creative flexibility during the development phase.
  • When crafting this document, it’s crucial to refrain from utilising excessively intricate language or technical jargon since it will be read by a diverse audience, including those who may not be well-versed with the technical lingo. It’s better to employ clear and uncomplicated language to guarantee comprehension and clarity.
  • Apply the INVEST framework, which signifies that every story should be autonomous, open to negotiation, worthwhile, computable, small, and verifiable.
  • Validate that acceptance criteria are established for every product backlog item and user story.

These recommendations and information ought to establish a strong groundwork to commence, supervise, and successfully conclude any development project.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs