Acceptance Criteria: who, why, how, etc

Hi folks!

I’m interested in learning about how people use acceptance criteria. I have no particular issue to solve or anything like that, just want to see how people use them and how they help people.

So: a non-expansive list of questions, to spark conversation:

  • Do you use AC?
  • Who are they for? The team? The testers? The product owner? BA?
  • Do you use a format? User stories? Given, when, then? Bullet points?
  • Who, if anyone ‘owns’ the writing of them?
  • At what point are they written?
  • Do you find them useful?
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There is definitely a difference in my experience, with teams as to whether or not explicit acceptance criteria is useful or not.

In general, I am all for acceptance criteria. I love that it puts the customer at the forefront of discussions around the new story.

But there are a couple of things that I have seen that haven’t been helpful.

  • When all customer centred thoughts and perspectives come only through the PO, to the point where the team don’t question them or think of the customer themselves
  • Where the AC is taken as the only thing to mark whether or not a story is complete/ready to sign off as done.
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I have been having the same conversation this very afternoon.

Currently our Jira tickets for one project are fairly verbose development specs with lots of detail including a business logic / requirements section containing a bullet point list what the story needs to do …followed by a table containing Given When Then style Acceptance Criteria.

For me these two sections are essentially one in the same thing - writing the same information in two different ways. I feel this is overkill and duplication of effort. A point we are currently debating. I’d be keen to hear thoughts on that.

In any case, our UXers having been heavily involved in writing the Acceptance Criteria. But it is essentially a team effort including BA, Devs, Test. And they are written up front before development begins at 3 Amigos sessions. That’s how we are currently doing it anyway.

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