What are Acceptance Criteria?

Acceptance Criteria, or AC for short, are specific requirements to be met before a user story can be considered “done.” The Product Manager and his team work together to ensure everyone agrees on what to do to conclude a user story. It helps avoid any additional confusion or frustration.

There are a few key traits of effective acceptance criteria:

They should be specific:

The acceptance criteria for a user story should be detailed, precise, and orderly so there is zero confusion about what needs to happen for it to become complete.

They should be achievable:

They must be realistic and achievable. If the team sets overly ambitious goals without considering possible obstacles, they may be disappointed when things don’t work out as planned. 

They should be measurable:

Acceptance criteria must be measurable. Otherwise, it’ll be difficult to tell whether or not you’re making progress. This ensures that a user story gets completed and there are no disputes about whether they’ve been done. 

Some common examples

There are a variety of different AC types and structures that can be used, depending on the needs of the project. Some common examples include:

Pass/Fail

This criterion states whether or not a user story has been completed without further details.

Test Cases

A set of specific test cases that need to be passed for a user story to be considered done.

Functional Requirements 

You list specific functional requirements that must be satisfied for a user story to be passed as complete.

Non-functional Requirements

A list of specific non-functional requirements must be met for a user story to be passed as complete.

Who writes Acceptance Criteria?

Product owners usually write acceptance criteria, but it’s often a collaboration between the product manager and the Product team. Since the team is actually doing the work, they give valuable insight into what is achievable and measurable. The product owner will then ensure that the set criteria are specific and accurate.

When should you write ACs?

Try to write them as soon as possible. The best time is at the initial planning stages of a project. Why? Everyone involved understands what’s expected clearly, which helps avoid any delays during development.

Why Do You Need Acceptance Criteria for User Stories?

Why even bother with Acceptance Criteria? Well, they’re essential in the product development process. They help ensure everyone is on the same page about the project’s objectives and what tasks should be done. You eliminate confusion when the team is clear about the criteria set for a user story. This helps to speed up the project to meet deadlines and stick within budget.

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