What are Acceptance Criteria?
Definition: Acceptance criteria are defined as the pre-established conditions that a software product development team needs to fulfill, so they can be accepted by a user. Mircosoft Press defines acceptance criteria as-
Acceptance criteria are the set of predefined requirements that a product has to meet for completing a user story. It is also understood as the “definition of done” as they revolve around the scope and requirements that developers need to execute for the user story acceptance.
All in all, acceptance criteria (AC) can be understood as the settings that a software product must incorporate to be accepted by a customer, a user, or other systems. They are different for each user story and describe the feature behavior from the end-user viewpoint.
Conditions that a software product must satisfy to be accepted by a user, customer, or another stakeholder.
When you write acceptance criteria, it benefits in creating a mutual understanding between the product owner and the development team concerning resolving a customer’s problem or producing product competencies.
A decent acceptance criterion must be written in simple English and must be easy to understand. The key factor here is to keep it simple and precise. As the acceptance criteria are associated with the client and the team, they must be written either by the client or a team member.
Uses of User Acceptance Criteria
1. Fixing communication
Acceptance criteria match the expectations of the client and the development group. It ensures that everyone has a mutual understanding of the necessities. Creators know precisely what type of behavior the product feature must-have. The stakeholders and the client know about the expectation the creator has from the feature.
2. Detailed view of feature scope
AC describes the limitations of user stories. They offer specific details on functionality that assist the team in comprehending whether the story is finished and works as anticipated.
3. Describing negative scenarios
Acceptance Criteria may need the system to identify unsafe password inputs and avoid a user from moving further. Invalid password format is an example of a so-called negative case when a user invalid inputs or acts unpredictably. Acceptance Criteria defines these situations and describes how the system must respond to them.
4. Conducting feature evaluations
Acceptance criteria stipulate what precisely must be developed by the team. Once the team has exact requirements, they can divide user stories into tasks that can be properly assessed.
Features of Good Acceptance Criteria
Acceptance criteria are known to be simple and straightforward so that everyone must understand the acceptance criteria written.
Acceptance criteria are useless if their developers cannot understand them. If someone is uncertain about if something is clear or not, one must take time to inquire and modify the content until things are well-defined.
Acceptance criteria deliver consumer perspective. Acceptance criteria are a means of knowing the problem at the front from a customer’s perspective. It is written in the framework of a genuine user’s experience.
Best practices of writing Acceptance Criteria for User Stories
Some of the key practices that you should follow while writing effective acceptance criteria are-
- You must document the criteria before development, as this will help the team to capture all customer needs in advance to be aware of specific acceptance criteria for user stories
- Your acceptance criteria should not be too narrow, as it should convey the intent and multiple user behaviors but not a final solution
- You should ensure that your acceptance criteria are achievable and define the reasonable minimum chunk of functionality that you can deliver. You should also ensure that team does not get stuck in the process
- You should also make your acceptance criteria measurable and not too broad, so your user stories do not become vague. You should also avoid technical details and write your acceptance criteria in plain English
- You should try to reach a consensus and write a testable AC. It will assist your testers in verifying that all requirements were met. If you do not do so, your developers might not understand if the user story is completed completely or not
- You should write in active voice and in first-person as well. Using active voice is considered highly important within the Agile methodology. By using an active voice, your AC would reflect the actual words the user would say
What to avoid in your AC for Software Development?
To let your team members understand every specific condition that a software product must satisfy to be accepted, you must avoid a few things to phrase your AC in the right manner-
- You should avoid using passive voice in your AC, as it may turn your statement a little vague and it will be unclear to understand who needs what
- You should also avoid using negative sentences in your AC. Using the adverb ‘not’ may make your requirements unclear and less verifiable. However, you should use “not” when you are supposed to mention unique requirements to the system functionality. For example- “The sign-up form should not be highlighted in red when the user enters an incorrect value.”
- You should avoid writing complex sentences, instead, writing simple and concise sentences is considered good for an effective AC. You may also use several simple sentences instead to mention user stories with absolute clarity. When your acceptance criteria have fewer needless words and conjunctions such as “but, so, and, etc, it becomes easy to understand for your development teams
Acceptance criteria are a significant constituent of every user story that an active team works on. It describes the scope, expected results, and testing criteria for bits of functionality that the delivery team is working on. They authenticate client expectations, deliver an end-user viewpoint, simplify requirements, avoid vagueness, and eventually help quality assurance confirm if the development goals were met.
Acceptance Criteria are inscribed before implementation. This is the most obvious one but is repeatedly skipped by teams. If acceptance criteria are written after the implementation, be ready to neglect the benefits. Every acceptance criterion is self-sufficiently testable. Acceptance criteria should have a well-defined pass-fail result as per the user’s perspective.
Now, after understanding the whole concept, what will be your definition of acceptance criteria? Share with us in the comment section below.