What are Acceptance Criteria in Product Management?

Acceptance Criteria are a set of conditions that must be met before a product or feature is considered complete. They serve as a communication tool between Product Managers, Developers, Engineers and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aligned on the Product Requirements.

Acceptance Criteria for Product Managers

What are Acceptance Criteria?

Acceptance Criteria are the conditions that a feature or product must meet before it’s ready for your customers. Think of it as a set of requirements—these requirements are defined by the Product Manager and then communicated to the Product Development team. The result should be a product that is built to the correct specifications and that works, reducing the risk of releasing something that is not complete (which is every Product Manager’s worst nightmare!).

How to Create Effective Acceptance Criteria

Here’s create effective Acceptance Criteria in four steps:

  1. Start with the user: Acceptance Criteria should be focused on the user’s needs and expectations. Ask yourself, “What problem does this feature solve for the user?” and “How will the user interact with this feature?”

  2. Be specific and measurable: Acceptance Criteria should be clear and specific so that everyone involved knows exactly what is expected. Use measurable criteria whenever possible, such as response time, error rates, or user satisfaction.

  3. Include edge cases: Acceptance Criteria should cover not only the expected use cases but also potential edge cases or exceptions.

  4. Communicate it simply: Acceptance Criteria should be simple and easy to understand. Avoid overly complex criteria that may confuse or frustrate the Development team.

Why are Acceptance Criteria Important?

Acceptance Criteria are critical for the success (or failure) of your product because they ensure that everyone involved is aligned. This shared set of requirements serves as a communication tool between the cross-functional Product Development team, helping to prevent miscommunication and reducing the risk of rework. Acceptance Criteria can also improve the quality of your product by catching defects early—before your users have the chance to encounter them!

When to Use Acceptance Criteria in Product Management

Acceptance Criteria should be created early in the Product Development process, ideally during the planning phase, and should be reviewed and updated throughout the development cycle. While Acceptance Criteria have a place in every product development cycle, they are especially important for complex features or projects that involve multiple teams or stakeholders. Acceptance Criteria can also be useful in Agile development environments, where they can help ensure that each iteration of the product meets the desired requirements.

Acceptance Criteria in action

The Product Manager set the Acceptance Criteria and communicated these requirements to the engineering teams and other developers so everyone is aligned on what this product has to do before it is released.