BlogUser Acceptance Criteria: Purposes & Best Practices

As a user, you want the software to perform a particular set of functions. If the software can perform the functions, you’ll use it. But if the software cannot handle real-world tasks—you’ll opt for something better. User Acceptance Criteria (UAC) help in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) which is an essential step in the software development lifecycle. This blog will elaborate on what UAC and its purposes are, along with outlining some best practices.  

What is User Acceptance Testing (UAC)? 

In the simplest of terms. User Acceptance Criteria is a predefined set of items or outcomes used as a checklist that the software should deliver.  

The success of any development project depends on the development team’s ability to deliver something that clients and customers want. This ‘something’ that the users, clients, customers, or systems want is a list of must-have outcomes for the project. Acceptance criteria are a set of those exact outcomes. Failure to deliver these must-haves equals the failure of the project. 

Essentially using the UAC means being able to answer two fundamental questions: 

  1. Are we building the right thing? 
  1. Are we building it in the right way? 
Features of UAC 

If you are the client, then the UAC is developed in partnership with the project team and yourself as a guide for the overall outcomes of the project.  

The items are what the software will be compared against to ensure that it is satisfactorily delivered. The UAC is the guide and is “checked off” when performing User Acceptance Testing (UAT).  

Here’s what you’d need to ensure when writing UAC

  1. It needs to be clear and concise 

Remember to keep your criteria as simple and as straightforward as possible. 

  1. It needs to be easy to understand 

Remember to make it easy for the developers to understand because if they can’t understand what they need to develop, they won’t be able to develop what you need. 

  1. It needs to be testable 

Remember to ensure that the requirements are easy to test and leave no room for interpretation. Tests should reveal straightforward yes/no or pass/fail results. 

  1. It needs to provide the end user’s perspective 

Remember that the UAC Acceptance needs to prioritize the user’s perspective.  

Purposes of User Acceptance Testing
User Acceptance Criteria

User Acceptance Criteria are critical in managing your releases and ensuring that everything that is released is released to spec and meets the outcomes that you are after.  

If you haven’t been managing Acceptance Criteria to date you may have been experiencing some of the following:  

  • Features delivered are not what you expected them to be  
  • Bugs have made it through to production 
  • There’s still a lack of understanding on how a feature should be working  

UAC helps with not having these aforementioned issues. It serves many functions. Some of the main purposes of UAC have been briefly described as follows: 

1. Providing scope to features
Purpose of User Acceptance Criteria

User Acceptance Criteria are synonymous with the ‘definition of done’ because they determine the scope and requirements that the developers must meet. It provides a way to document what you expect a feature to do and how you will assess its ability to deliver on your outcomes. 

UAC defines the boundaries of user stories and provides details on functionality that helps the development team understand whether the story is completed as per expectation. 

2.Describing negative scenarios 
Purpose of User Acceptance Criteria

UAC helps detect edge cases and further solidifies testing logic.  When you start planning how you will accept a deliverable, you begin thinking about how it will be used and how you will test it.  

In having UAC, you start identifying the edge cases or areas that you hadn’t originally thought about. This is a great process to follow as it provides more detail for test cases and more definitions of the rules that should be implemented. UAC defines negative scenarios and explains how the system must react to them. 

The more details provided within a feature or Acceptance Criteria the clearer it should be for a developer to define, design, and implement.  

3. Setting communication
Benefit of User Acceptance Criteria

User Acceptance Criteria are probably the easiest way to get you and your team on the same page from the beginning. Once you have defined your UAC and agreed that they will be used to sign off on a deliverable you can ensure that the team understands how the feature will be assessed and the detail it needs to cover from a functional perspective.  

Using the Acceptance Criteria as part of their delivery and development plan helps provide context on the outcome and what should be delivered. And it leaves no room for assumptions and misinterpretations.  

UAC synchronizes the visions of the client and the development team so that everyone has a common understanding of the requirements: Developers know exactly what kind of behavior the feature must demonstrate, while stakeholders and the client understand what’s expected from the feature. 

4. Streamlining acceptance testing 
Benefit of User Acceptance Criteria

UAC form the basis of the user story acceptance testing.  

Each acceptance criterion as defined in the UAC must be independently testable. It should have a clear pass/fail or yes/no scenario.  

The criteria can be verified manually. The story can able be verified through automated tests. 

5. Conducting feature evaluations 
Purpose of User Acceptance Criteria

UAC specifies what exactly must be developed by the team.  

Once the team has precise requirements, they can split user stories into tasks that can be correctly estimated. And then the work can commence so that the understood requirements are met. 

Best Practices for writing UAC
Best Practices for writing User Acceptance Criteria

Writing UAC can often seem easy. However, don’t be fooled by the simplistic formats.  

Many teams falter when writing UAC and that often becomes the difference between the success and failure of a given process of development.  

Here is a quick list of the best practices to follow when writing UAC

  1. Write UAC before the start of actual development. 
  1. Write specific and intent-driven UAC
  1. Write UAC that is achievable so as to deliver reasonable minimum functionality. 
  1. Write UAC minus the technical details. 
  1. Write UAC that is clear and concise. 
  1. Write UAC that all stakeholders have reached a consensus on. 
  1. Write testable UAC
To conclude 

UAC is a must—whether you are a client or a member of a development team. As a client, you need UAC to keep abreast of the development process and check if what is being developed meets your requirements. And as a part of the development team, UAC helps you know exactly what to do. 

But writing user stories and UAC might seem daunting to many, even though having UAC is pivotal to achieving business goals and developing bug-free apps. At Aerion Technologies, we work with you to ensure that your UAC is specific and is written clearly and concisely. Reach out for a FREE CONSULTATION today and you’ll see how much difference a well-managed and informed team can make to the development process.
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