November 13, 2017

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 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.

List of contents

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 DEFINITION

Acceptance criteria is 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.

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 are 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.

HOW TO WRITE 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 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 of 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 be having different solutions to the same issue but with this approach, it 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 consumption of more time than it had been expected. But with the help of the product acceptance criteria, the team is able to progress faster and fluidly as the project scope and the end product is well documented. The team and the client easily assess the software development progress and look out for any mistake, and if there are any they can easily correct them.

USER STORIES EXAMPLES WITH ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA

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 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 

ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA TEMPLATE

Just as stated before project acceptance criteria describe the intent of the client which is his/her idea on 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 to 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:

ScenarioThis is the title of the condition to be acted upon
Given (an initial condition)This is pre-order placed by the user expects from the system after completion of the task. It is made as the journey to completing the task begins therefore allows the user to become aware of when to start the task.
When (something happens)This is where the process in which the user 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 to 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

GivenThe email address is valid
WhenThe email address is authenticated
ThenThe message is sent to the email address

Scenario: Sending a message through the invalid email address

Givenan invalid email address
Whenthe email is authenticated
Thenthe online profile is flagged as incomplete, kickoff snail mail message

 

IN CONCLUSION

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 flawless the project will run. By availing them with well detailed and concise acceptance criteria that both of you come into an agreement about will make the process of your product development very simple.

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

Feel free to leave your comments, we appreciate your feedback as well as 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 the best dedicated development teams but also with members well versed with this efficient management technique.