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What is an Acceptance Criteria?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

Acceptance Criteria are a vital component of the product management process in the realm of SaaS (Software as a Service). They are clear and concise statements that outline the specific conditions that a software product must meet to be accepted by the stakeholders. These criteria serve as a bridge between the product owner, the development team, and the end-users, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding the expected outcome of the software.

Importance of Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance Criteria play a crucial role in the success of a SaaS product. Here's why they are important:

  1. Clear communication: They provide a shared understanding of what needs to be built, eliminating any ambiguity or misinterpretation. This promotes effective communication between the product owner and the development team.

  2. Measurable standards: Acceptance Criteria establish measurable standards that enable the product owner to assess whether the software meets the requirements. They provide a clear basis for acceptance or rejection of the product.

  3. Quality assurance: By defining specific conditions that the software must meet, acceptance criteria act as a quality assurance tool. They help prevent the delivery of subpar or incomplete features, ensuring a high standard of quality.

  4. Customer satisfaction: Acceptance Criteria are formulated based on customer or end-user expectations. By meeting these criteria, the software is more likely to meet customer needs, enhancing overall satisfaction.

How to Use Acceptance Criteria

To effectively use Acceptance Criteria in SaaS product management, follow these steps:

  1. Collaborative creation: Involve all relevant stakeholders, including product owners, development teams, and end-users, in the creation of Acceptance Criteria. This ensures that diverse perspectives are considered and facilitates alignment.

  2. Be specific and measurable: Clearly define the expected behavior or functionality of the software. Use concrete terms and metrics to make the criteria specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

  3. Prioritize and organize: Prioritize Acceptance Criteria based on importance and impact. Organize them in a logical structure, such as by feature or user story, to enhance clarity and ease of reference.

  4. Validation and testing: Use the Acceptance Criteria as a basis for validation and testing. Ensure that each criterion is thoroughly tested, and that the software meets all the defined conditions before it is considered accepted.

Useful Tips for Acceptance Criteria

Consider these tips to enhance the effectiveness of Acceptance Criteria:

  • Involve end-users: Gather feedback from end-users during the creation of Acceptance Criteria to ensure that their perspectives and needs are adequately represented.

  • Keep it simple: Use simple and approachable language in the Acceptance Criteria to facilitate understanding for all stakeholders, including non-technical team members.

  • Use examples: Provide concrete examples within the Acceptance Criteria to illustrate the desired behavior or functionality. This helps eliminate ambiguity and ensures a shared understanding.

  • Continuously iterate: Acceptance Criteria are not set in stone. As the product evolves and customer needs change, review and update the criteria to adapt to the evolving landscape.


Acceptance criteria are a set of conditions or requirements that a product must meet to be considered complete and satisfy the customer's expectations.
Acceptance criteria help define the boundaries and scope of a product, ensuring that the development team and stakeholders have a clear understanding of what needs to be delivered.
Acceptance criteria are typically defined collaboratively by the product owner, development team, and stakeholders. The product owner has the primary responsibility for ensuring they are well-defined.
Acceptance criteria should include clear and specific conditions that a product must meet, such as functionality, performance, usability, and any specific requirements outlined by the stakeholders.
User stories describe the desired functionality or feature from the user's perspective, while acceptance criteria define the specific conditions that need to be met to consider the user story complete.
Yes, acceptance criteria can change as the product evolves and stakeholders provide feedback. It is important to have a flexible approach and update the acceptance criteria accordingly.
Acceptance criteria should be written in a clear, concise, and unambiguous manner. They should be testable, measurable, and specific enough to ensure a common understanding among all stakeholders.
If acceptance criteria are not met, it indicates that the product does not meet the requirements or expectations. In this case, the development team needs to address the gaps and make the necessary improvements.
Yes, acceptance criteria can be prioritized based on their importance and impact on the overall product. This helps in focusing on critical requirements and delivering value to the customers.
No, acceptance criteria can be applied to any project or product development process. They ensure that the end result meets the desired standards and requirements.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Importance of Acceptance Criteria
  2. How to Use Acceptance Criteria
  3. Useful Tips for Acceptance Criteria
  4. Related Terms

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