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Essential Tips for Writing Acceptance Criteria Like a Pro


Entrepreneur and CTO
April 18th 2024

Acceptance criteria? They’re like the GPS for your project, ensuring you stay on course for success. Here are ten essential tips to help you master them.


Team Up: Get everyone involved – devs, testers, clients. Teamwork makes the dream work! When everyone's on board from the get-go, you get diverse perspectives and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Keep It Clear: No jargon or fancy words, please. Keep it simple so everyone's on the same page. Clarity is king here. Use plain and straightforward language that even your grandma would understand.

Measure Up: Make sure each criterion is something you can measure. Think numbers and observable stuff. If you can't measure it, how will you know if you've achieved it? Make sure your criteria are quantifiable and observable for easy evaluation.

User First: Think like your users. What would make them happy? Write criteria with them in mind. Your users are your North Star. Focus on what matters to them and what will make their lives easier or better.

Function vs. Form: Know the difference between what your system should do and how it should do it. Split 'em up for clarity. Functional requirements are about what your system needs to do, while non-functional ones cover how it should perform. Keeping them separate makes everything clearer.

Try ATDD: Test first, build later. It keeps things focused and ensures you’re building what’s needed. Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD) is like setting a target before you take aim. It keeps your focus sharp and your goals clear.

Expect the Unexpected: Cover those weird scenarios nobody expects. It’ll save you headaches later. Murphy's Law is real. Plan for those oddball scenarios and edge cases now, and you'll thank yourself later when things inevitably go sideways.

Start Strong: Prioritize the must-haves first. Nail the big stuff, then tackle the rest. Start with the essentials – the must-haves. Get those right, and you'll have a solid foundation to build upon.

Show and Tell: Share your criteria. Make sure everyone’s on the same page. Communication is key. Share your acceptance criteria with the team and stakeholders to ensure everyone's aligned and working towards the same goals.

Stay Fresh: Update your criteria as the project evolves. Change is the only constant, right? Projects evolve, requirements change, and priorities shift. Keep your acceptance criteria up-to-date to reflect these changes and ensure you're always on the right track.

Follow these tips, and you'll be writing acceptance criteria like a seasoned pro in no time!

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