Shape Up Forum

Acceptance criteria (specification by example)

When would it make sense to craft acceptance criteria, and where would you incorporate it, e.g., the first ~2 weeks of a six-week build cycle during task discovery or at the finished pitch stage and embed it into a breadboard that is ready for the next build cycle?
In Scrumban, for example, product managers, with their cross-functional team, add acceptance criteria (to support, for example, BDD ) to their prioritized stories (validated high-value opportunities) and only when a trigger point (minimum WIP limit on your To-Do (or, To-Try status) on the team’s kanban board is approaching. (I realize some teams split stories (functionally decompose user stories) in such a way that achieve similar results.).

How would specification by example (requirements by collaboration/collaborative analysis, which, traditionally, like in Scrumban, is working well when delivery teams spend no more than 5–10% of their iteration on backlog refinement) work in Shape Up when there is no backlog or indication of acceptance criteria?


This is just my own opinion and YMMV.

There is this video that I share with designers whenever we talk about process: Jeff Gordon Dale Earnhardt Jr Radio Transmission On Tire Strategys Talladega Sprint Cup Race 2010 - YouTube I am a big NASCAR fan so it is a video of Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt discussing tire strategy at Talladega.

Anyway, sometimes I wonder if it is too easy to overthink the process of making a product. Unfortunately in larger organizations, there are additional layers of work that certain people want to add to get to a definition of “done.”

Some layers of this work are legitimate (especially with regard to safety and security), but what if you push for fewer layers by default? If the “north star” outcome is working software, is that the one and only acceptance criteria needed? e.g. “Works well enough to ship!”

So in that sense, your pitch is your “acceptance criteria” and you shouldn’t have to write anything more IMO. FWIW, our team only writes “spec by example” or BDD for regression testing only AFTER the software ships, and that work is always done out of cycle by someone external to the development team.

Very interesting. Thanks, @nt-from-chicago. Thoughts, @rjs?