What is Acceptance Criteria in an agile environment?

So, you are working in an agile environment, yay! Lets assume you are a manager and you know the fuzz about agile management, but you dont quite get all the terms that are used. Acceptance criteria can easily be one of them. Why?

Well, because it is not like the managers think it is. As a manager you might think that: okay, i am asking for a report that has few columns of information. I provided a spreadsheet that has example data, oh btw. i also put some calculations in that sheet, so they would understand it, right? Wrong. It was going well, till the calculation part.

Acceptance Criteria are the set of element that marks a project / product done and ready to be released. A clear Acceptance criterion is something like:

This spread sheet has to have 3 columns, named as: Sum, Avg., Gross.

Acceptance Criteria can also be thought of a story, that guides the way to a successful delivery.

Continuing from the previous criterion, it would follow as:

  • Sum must be derived from database with query X
  • Avg. must be derived from database with query Y
  • Gross must be derived from database with query Z
  • All these queries must be compared with provided sheet for testing purposes
  • A new macro has to be put in the spread sheet that makes provided calculation and add one row at the very bottom of every column
  • Files has to be saved as q1_final_budget.xlsx

There you go, this is your acceptance criteria. You provided your intent, but not how they needs to be done. You provided a way of testing, you kind of provided a flow for an end result. This is your Acceptance Criteria for the preparation of a quarterly budget.

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