How to write Acceptance Criteria

In a faraway world of perfection, we would truly understand each other without any confusion whether it was 'this' or 'that'. In our world, we need to come up with ways to convey our intentions and ideas clearly so we are not misunderstood by our colleagues. 

In software development, acceptance criteria aid the development team in knowing the expectations for a certain feature. As development teams, we strive to build the best system of our specific industry, however this does not convey much, we need to come up with objectives to achieve our goals.

This post will discuss the following on acceptance criteria:

  • What is the definition?
  • Why are they used?
  • Who writes them?
  • How to write acceptance criteria?


Defining Acceptance Criteria

The criteria that a component or system must satisfy in order to be accepted by a user, customer, or other authorised entity -  ISQTB

Acceptance criteria are the “conditions that a software product must satisfy to be accepted by a user, customer or other stakeholders.” -  FreeCodeCamp


Why are they used?

  • Understanding the value and vision - assist the development team on what the feature is, how it adds value to the business,  and how it contributes to the vision of the company
  • Define Behaviour -This aids the team in getting a list of items on what the feature should do
  • Reach Harmony - The development team knows exactly what conditions need to be met, just as the clients know what to expect from the feature
  • Support testing - On top of the ticket description, talking to the product, and talking to the development team for test cases, this provides another point of view for testers


Who writes Acceptance Criteria?

These are normally written by the product owner and reviewed by a member of the development team to ensure that there are no technical constraints and/or inconsistencies from a development perspective. In my team, it is first written by the product owner, then reviewed by a developer for the technical constraints, and finally a QA specialist for their knowledge of how the new feature should interact with the current system.


The Acceptance Criteria should be specified before it gets added to the sprint for the team to work on



How to write Acceptance Criteria

There are multiple ways to write acceptance criteria. Our team prefers the scenario-oriented format as the team gets a better understanding of the requirements compared to one sentence scenarios.

A common template used from my conversations with teams in other companies is the Given/When/Then format. 

Here are a couple of examples: 

User Story 1

  • As an admin of Analytics Platform X
  • I want to be able to invite my team members to access the system
  • So that my team can analyse the data on Analytics Platform X to make more informed business decisions

Acceptance Criteria

  • Given that I am an Admin on Platform X
  • And I am on the Users Page
  • And I click on “Invite Users”
  • Then I fill in the Email Address of a team member
  • And I click on Send Invite
  • Then team member I have invited gets an email to access the platform


User Story 2

  • As a user that has been invited to access Platform X 
  • I want to be able to create an account
  • So that I am able to access our data to make more informed business decisions

Sample Acceptance Criteria

  • Given that I have been invited access Platform X
  • And I have received an email to sign up
  • Then I go through the Sign Up process
  • And login to Platform X
  • Then I am able to access our data to make more informed business decisions

Happy Testing!


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