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In any software development process, a client’s communication with the development team is essential in creating a solution to the product requirements. Therefore, ambiguity in the explanation of the client’s requirements, such as “I require an antivirus that is fast and awesome” limits the understanding of the development team and complete fulfillment of the product functionality. That’s why, here at Existek, we feel that writing all-embracing user stories through well-defined acceptance criteria lies in the ground of any software project that has become a commercial success.

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The main aim of a client’s need to develop a software product is for it to fulfill certain requirements for the final user. For instance, an app being able to send messages from one side to another who receives it; is its functionality known as user requirements. For the product to fulfill all the requirements, the client needs to fully and in detail describe their expectations and that is where the user acceptance criteria come in.


Acceptance criteria s a formal list that fully narrates user requirements and all the product scenarios put into the account. It plainly describes conditions under which the user requirements are desired, thus getting rid of any uncertainty of the client’s expectations and misunderstandings. 

This approach states the intent of the client and not the solution, it is up to the team to understand them and ask for clarification where it’s complex and find the solution.

User Stories in Agile-Scrum methodology

However, having requirements is not enough, it needs to be clearly and concisely documented to avoid future surprises, which brings us to the use of agile methodologies like Scrum. Scrum is a technique that enables the software development team to work with the agile approach and user stories to solve the most sophisticated development process. User stories are generalized details of the system sustainability criteria and the client’s gain of accomplishing their needs. Therefore, Scrum applies it to simplify the understanding of the client’s intent.

looking for more details on Scrum or other SDLC models?

We recommend reading the article that covers the most efficient software development methodologies.

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Benefits of Product Acceptance Criteria to software development teams

  • This approach enables the team to identify the user story, which they can use as a reference of whether the product functionality is as required. Since the story is the primary objective of the software development process, therefore the team can use it to assess the progress and the product if it is as desired.
  • Unity between the client and the development team is synchronized as the client has specific expectations from the team while the team has detailed scenarios of the development process and the final product required.
  • The software development project is usually divided into tasks which, after each is completed, it has to be confirmed that they meet the requirement of the project scope and this is made possible by the use of the acceptance criteria.
  • Before any software begins to be developed, some planning is required, and estimation of resources and time. this allows easy division of tasks which can then be easily budgeted and assigned for time.


Acceptance criteria are a set of guidelines that determine whether a product, service, or system meets the needs of the customer or end user. They are an essential part of any project and serve several vital purposes. Let’s find the main ones and how they can be used to ensure the project’s success.

Defining and communicating requirements

The first purpose of acceptance criteria is to define and communicate the requirements of a project. Acceptance criteria provide a clear and concise description of what the final product should look like and how it should function. This helps to ensure that all stakeholders, including the customer, the development team, and the project manager, are on the same page about what is expected from the project.

Facilitating testing and quality assurance

Acceptance criteria also serve as a guide for testing and quality assurance. They provide a set of guidelines for how the product should be tested and what should be considered when evaluating its quality. This helps to ensure that the product is thoroughly tested and meets the necessary standards before it is released to the customer.

Facilitating decision-making

Acceptance criteria also play a key role in decision-making. They provide a clear set of guidelines for determining whether a product or service is ready to be released. This helps to ensure that the product is of high quality and meets the customer’s needs before it is released to the market.

Improving collaboration

Acceptance criteria also help to improve collaboration between different stakeholders. They provide a common language and understanding of what is expected from the project. This helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and that there is a clear understanding of what needs to be done to achieve it.

Managing changes

Acceptance criteria also play a crucial role in managing changes. They provide a clear set of guidelines for how changes should be made to a project. This helps to ensure that any changes are made in a controlled and well-planned manner and that they are in line with the overall goals of the project.

To follow the main purposes of acceptance criteria, project managers and stakeholders should: clearly define and communicate requirements, use them as a guide for testing and quality assurance, use them to facilitate decision-making, improve collaboration, manage changes and regularly review and update acceptance criteria. It is also important to involve all relevant stakeholders in the creation and review of acceptance criteria.


User acceptance criteria illustration

Since this management technique majorly concerns the client and the team, it is either one side or another that is supposed to write it. However, the client is the one who mainly writes especially if they have adequate knowledge of software development and sustainability criteria writing. Then a member of the team looks at it to ensure that it is clearly documented and there are no technical misunderstandings that may hinder proper software development.

In case a client is not adequately familiar with criteria writing or software development, they can assign the task to a person with technical expertise, such as a project manager, requirements analyst, or product owner.

It would be disorienting to write acceptance criteria once development has started. Requirements are documented and completed before the project begins, where the team and the client come to an agreement on the least yield that will meet the client’s needs.

What is the Acceptance Criteria Specification?

If you want to define the described concept properly, remember that the end product should be as expected by the client and fulfill the primary requirements. Therefore, it must be executable and for this to happen, it has to be clear and in simple language that can easily be translated to manual or automated test cases with no ambiguity on the expected output.

Tips on Writing

  • Just like any process’s goal, you have to start describing achievable and sensible information. It should provide the minimum level of functionality the product is to achieve, allowing space for flexibility in the outcome. User acceptance criteria should not be overestimated or underrated but at a realistic level.
  • The main points are well detailed and defined for the team members to easily comprehend what is required of them and easily employ the information in the development.
  • Project acceptance criteria ought to have a proper perceived measurement that is to be used to gauge the product development progress.
  • Every criterion should be based on consensus between the client and the team. The two parties would have different solutions to the same issue, but this approach, requires both to comply with one solution.
  • Just as the project is divided into tasks with the help of the sustainability criteria, you should as well have a reference checklist to see whether the user story is covered.

How Acceptance Criteria Affect the Development Process 

It is rare for the software development process to run as planned from the start to completion, especially for complex products. Nevertheless, making numerous changes in the process can result in a lot of expenses and more time than expected. But with the help of the product acceptance criteria, the team is able to progress faster and more fluidly as the project scope and the end product are well documented. The team and the client easily assess the software development progress and look out for any mistakes; if there are any, they can easily correct them.

Acceptance criteria also aid in communication between the development team and the stakeholders by providing a clear and detailed description of the expected outcome. This allows the stakeholders to provide feedback on the project’s progress and helps the development team to understand the stakeholders’ needs and priorities. This can be particularly important when working with remote or distributed teams or when stakeholders are not familiar with technical jargon.

It can also help to improve the overall efficiency of the development process. By providing clear, measurable goals, they can help to keep the development team focused and on track, reducing the risk of scope creep or other delays. Additionally, because acceptance criteria are typically defined at the beginning of the development process, they can help to ensure that development efforts are aligned with the stakeholders’ needs and priorities rather than being based on assumptions or guesses.

Have additional questions or need help with writing acceptance criteria for your project?

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how you and your users see the acceptance criteria and user journey

This part is about presenting “conditions of satisfaction” whereby all the possible conditions are covered, the process and the end results. Typically any condition passes through the path/ format:

As a (user) I can (function) so that (rationale/ achieve some result). So what are the project acceptance criteria examples? Let’s consider a few cases:

User story:

  • As a Harvard University student
  • I can see my fee for the semester 
  • So that I know the remaining balance

Acceptance criteria examples:

  • The semester fee balance is displayed
  • The semester fee balance is calculated
  • The fee balance is displayed for that semester’s duration
  • The balance is not displayed if an unknown student identity is applied 

User story:

  • As a PayPal account holder
  • I can withdraw my pending credit from PayPal
  • So that I can have money in my Oschadbank account

Acceptance criteria examples:

  • I can see on PayPal account that there is pending credit
  • I can choose what amount of credit to withdraw
  • I can see my Oschadbank account balance when I have chosen to withdraw credit
  • I can’t top up Oschadbank account when there are no pending credits in my PayPal account 


Just as stated before, project acceptance criteria describe the intent of the client, which is his/her idea of how the user story should be like, and it is up to the team to develop the solution of the primary story. To make it simple, they can part the document into a scenario which is three words in a sequence: Given, When, Then – each describing an item of the criteria like what is it for, what should be there, and what shouldn’t be, in the format of sustainability criteria in testing examples:

Scenario This is the title of the condition to be acted upon
Given (an initial condition) This is a pre-order placed by the user expects from the system after the completion of the task. It is made as the journey to completing the task begins, therefore, allowing the user to become aware of when to start the task.
When (something happens) This is where the process in which the user’s initial order is verified of whether it fulfills the system requirement to process the task. If it does, then the system can proceed to work on the order. However, if the user order does not match the system requirement, the system will deny the task process.
Then (this is the result) Once the system is done verifying the user order, the order is then processed to produce the results, which would be: the final result, input to the next task, or a lead-on for the user to the next task.

Examples of Filling in This Template

Scenario: Sending a message through the valid email address

Given The email address is valid
When The email address is authenticated
Then The message is sent to the email address

Scenario: Sending a message through the invalid email address

Given an invalid email address
When the email is authenticated
Then the online profile is flagged as incomplete, kickoff snail mail message


It’s also easier to cover this topic by providing a list of best practices for writing acceptance criteria. Along with details on each practice, it helps ensure that acceptance criteria are accurate, testable, and aligned with the project’s goals.

  • Writing clear and concise criteria that are easy to understand. The acceptance criteria should be written in a way that is easily understood by all stakeholders, including developers, testers, and business users. This can be achieved by using simple language and avoiding jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to some stakeholders.
  • Making sure that the criteria are testable. The acceptance criteria should be written in a way that allows developers and testers to create test cases that will confirm whether the feature or requirement has been implemented correctly. This can be done by using specific and measurable language that can be used to check that the feature or requirement has been met.
  • Using specific and measurable language. The acceptance criteria should be written using specific and measurable language rather than general or subjective terms. This will make it easier to understand what is expected of the feature or requirement and to confirm that it has been implemented correctly.
  • Including acceptance criteria for all aspects of a feature or requirement. The acceptance criteria should cover all aspects of a feature or requirement, including performance, usability, and security. This will ensure that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of what is expected of the feature or requirement and that all important aspects have been considered.
  • Involving stakeholders in the process of creating acceptance criteria. It is important to involve stakeholders in the process of creating acceptance criteria, as they can provide valuable input on the goals and needs of the business or organization. This will ensure that the acceptance criteria align with the overall goals and objectives of the project.
  • Keeping the acceptance criteria updated throughout the development process. It should be updated throughout the development process to reflect any changes in requirements or implementation. This will ensure that the acceptance criteria remain relevant and accurate throughout the project.
  • Using examples or scenarios to illustrate the acceptance criteria. Examples and scenarios can be used to illustrate the acceptance criteria, making them more concrete and understandable. This will help stakeholders to understand how the feature or requirement should behave in different situations.
  • Use acceptance criteria as a guide for user testing. Acceptance criteria can be used as a guide for user testing, helping to inform the test cases and ensuring that the feature or requirement is being tested in a way that aligns with the goals and needs of the business or organization.
  • Avoiding implementation details in acceptance criteria. They should focus on what the system should do, not how it should be done. Avoiding implementation details will ensure that the acceptance criteria are focused on the overall goals and objectives of the project rather than getting bogged down in the details of how the feature or requirement will be implemented.

Acceptance criteria help to clearly define and communicate the requirements and expectations for a project or feature, ensuring that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of what needs to be delivered. They also serve as a guide for testing and validation, helping to ensure that the final product meets the needs of the users.


If you have decided to hire a software development team your provision of the resource for information on the idea behind your projects dictates how flawlessly the project will run. Availing them with well-detailed and concise acceptance criteria that both of you come to an agreement about will make the process of your product development very simple.

However, simple does not mean easy, it will require the use of methodologies like scrum, an agile framework that makes the complexity of the development processes a bit simpler for the team to understand and work on.

Want to exchange your ideas?

Feel free to leave your comments, we appreciate your feedback and any new ideas you may have. Also, do not hesitate to reach out for any assistance with the software project. We at Existek not only offer dedicated development teams but also members well-versed in this efficient management technique.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the acceptance criteria?

Acceptance criteria are statements describing the functionality, behavior, and performance of a software product. They are used to define the requirements for a software product and ensure that the final product meets the customer's or user's needs. Acceptance criteria are typically written clearly and measurably, making it easy to understand what the software product should do.

Why do you need to write comprehensive acceptance criteria?

Acceptance criteria are a vital part of software development. They ensure that the final product meets the needs of the customer or user and that the software development project is successful. By understanding what acceptance criteria are, how to create them, and best practices for their use, software development teams can ensure that their projects are completed successfully.

What are some useful tips on writing acceptance criteria?

  • Be specific and clear in defining the acceptance criteria.

  • Write acceptance criteria in the form of specific and measurable outcomes.

  • Make sure acceptance criteria are testable.

  • Be sure to include acceptance criteria for all stakeholders.

  • Use simple and easy-to-understand language.

  • Keep acceptance criteria concise and to the point.

  • Make sure acceptance criteria are aligned with the project objectives.

  • Review and validate acceptance criteria with all stakeholders before starting development.

  • Use consistent formatting and structure when writing acceptance criteria.

  • Keep the acceptance criteria up-to-date throughout the development process.

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