Last month’s webinar on agile implementation produced a number of questions we didn’t have time to answer live. We sat down with BlackLine’s Greg Burns and Ron Ben Yosef to discuss the fourth and fifth questions of six we received, both regarding Agile Acceptance Criteria.
Question: How key is the availability of acceptance criteria in user stories at the planning/scope level?
Answer: I can’t emphasize enough how important acceptance criteria is in planning. In order to plan we size tickets; in order to size, we need to understand what is the scope of a ticket (i.e what should be done as part of that ticket and what not). To avoid over-engineering/under-engineering we use acceptance criteria and set expectations between the PO and the team and among the team itself. We make sure all tickets include acceptance criteria from both a business and technical perspective, so the entire team is engaged. We’ve found it helpful to create baseline technical acceptance criteria as well, such as unit test coverage standards, instrumentation, logging, performance, etc.
Question: Does acceptance criteria have a bearing on when the user story can be considered completed, both from a development and testing perspective?
Answer: I’ll start with our terminology. We use acceptance criteria per user story – for us it means everything needed for that user story was completed (a checklist) and the user story can be closed. The definition of “done” is the standards we have for our teams for every user story across the board (unit test in place, code reviewed, fully tested, deployed, etc.). We groom our user stories in a way that covers both development and testing. We groom every ticket to cover all aspects for development and testing; at the end each ticket should serve a business value and getting to “done” with the ticket should serve both development and testing.
As you can see, acceptance criteria is vital to the agile process. It’s necessary from the start of planning, through development and to the end of testing. Without the presence of acceptance criteria, your teams cannot move forward in each user story and your project cannot be completed successfully.
Stay tuned for the last question in this Q&A series with BlackLine. You can still catch the first set of questions regarding agile implementation and the previous question on developer-to-tester ratios on the blog.