The secret to task success…

Written by Havana Roskrow - July 3, 2024

There’s no secret sauce I’m afraid. It’s all down to clear, well defined acceptance criteria .

I know it might sound a little dry, and something that you’d expect to hear from a Project Manager, but clear acceptance criteria is vital within any task or project. The definition of set criteria can be easily be something that’s overlooked but, done well, can be the key to ensuring that your project is delivered on budget and on time and, most importantly, to the specification you require.

As we begin moving towards our new project management tool, Jira, it is pertinent that we take this opportunity to highlight some benefits of the tool as well as best practice that we will be following to ensure that this transition will have a positive effect on project efficiency and client satisfaction. 

One of the most important benefits is that this tool encourages a clear and concise acceptance criteria for all tasks, stories or bugs raised in a project backlog. Acceptance criteria can be defined as the conditions a software product must meet to be accepted by a user, a customer, or other styles. They are unique for each task and should be added in the description of a task as it’s created in the backlog, in order to define the feature behaviour from the end-user’s perspective. 

Certainly, as a PM, acceptance criteria is essential to ensure we are delivering in line with the client’s needs completely – and therefore this is an opportunity to explain why we should be using good acceptance criteria for all projects, what this looks like, and that it is essential  our client’s are onboard with this too. 

Firstly, what are the benefits? 

  • It removes ambiguity and provides a clear framework to deliver against for the project team.
  • It reduces the risk of misunderstanding the task – which can ensure we are investing time efficiently. 
  • By setting acceptance criteria for each task it ensures scope creep is easier to manage. 
  • Greater client satisfaction as tasks are delivered in line with their full requirements.

Ultimately – having clarity on tasks saves time, budget, and frustration for both parties!

So, what is a good acceptance criteria and what does this look like?

  • Acceptance criteria should be testable. Tests should reveal straightforward yes/no or pass/fail results.
  • Criteria should be clear and concise. 
  • Everyone must understand your acceptance criteria.
  • Acceptance criteria should provide user perspective. Acceptance criteria is a means of looking at the problem at hand from a customer’s standpoint. It should be written in the context of a real user’s experience.

A good way to meet the above criteria is to follow the template below. 

“As a type of user, I want some goal, so that some reason

So maybe if you’re a membership organisation you would raise an acceptance criteria like,

“As a registered member of the website , I want to easily search for events, so that I can see those that are geographically close to me and are free to members.


“As an admin of the website, I want to easily tag events, so that I can show our global membership those events near to them, and those available to members and non-members.

Clear and concise acceptance criteria will ensure more efficient outputs across our collaborative projects, and therefore we really encourage all of our client’s to raise tasks to include a clear vision for their intended goal.