Acceptance criteria, in simple terms, refer to the pre-determined and documented requirements a project must meet to be considered a success. I discussed in an earlier blog why it’s important to clearly define acceptance criteria before beginning a development project, but now the question remains – how do we go about determining what that is?
Establishing achievable acceptance criteria is based on setting realistic client expectations. If your client knows exactly what to anticipate every step of the way and his expectations are met, client relationship management becomes easy, and projects stay focused. Finding out what the client’s goals are up front and what a successful project looks like to him lays the groundwork for a happy client when it’s all said and done.
A great way to get this information is by providing clients with a questionnaire asking them to rate how important specific items are to them. The questionnaire should include the following topics:
1. How involved do they want to be in the design process?
2. What type of communication would they prefer to receive and how often?
a. Are they OK with email?
b. Are they expecting you to call all the time?
3. How tech savvy are they?
a. What level of detail are they expecting to get in your communications?
4. What is their realistic time commitment to this project?
5. Do they understand what the UAT involvement means for them?
6. Do they understand their infrastructure responsibility?
7. Do they understand what a change request is?
a. Will they be hosting or handling that relationship with the hosting company?
Once you figure out all of the details of what the client expects, be prepared with examples of similar work so you can give realistic estimates for timelines and outcomes. If the client knows what they should be looking for, defining the acceptance criteria becomes a much easier task.
Finally, and most importantly, get off on the right foot. Make sure your first few deliverables to the client are on time, or even a little bit early. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.