Business Analysis Technique: Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria

According to the BABOK® Guide, acceptance and evaluation criteria is one of the 16 required techniques in the fundamental knowledge base of an effective business analyst.   So let’s take a closer look at what this technique actually is and think about how we might apply it on our projects. 

Acceptance criteria
These define a minimal set of requirements that must be met in order for a solution or a solution component to be considered acceptable to its key stakeholders.   They are defined earl y in the project life cycle and must be met (pass or fail) in order to say that a solution is complete, correct and worth implementing.  Test cases are written that verify the solution against its defined and agreed-upon acceptance criteria.

Evaluation criteria 
These define a set of requirements used to choose between multiple solutions to a particular problem.  They are typically built to allow for scoring of the various solutions under consideration.  In order to evaluate potential solutions, this set of requirements is prioritized and ranked by order of importance.  The solutions will then be scored against the ranked set of requirements using a pre-established evaluation scale.  A ‘must have’ requirement that is not met by a proposed solution should remove that solution from consideration.

Elements of this technique include testability and an associated ranking/scoring scheme.  Testable is pretty straightforward – if you build a solution to meet the requirements, you better be able to prove it. Ranking looks at the requirements and their order of importance while scoring determines how well the resulting solution meets those requirements.

This technique focuses on the acceptability of a solution to its key stakeholders.  This includes internal solution users within the organization and external stakeholders such as the solution’s customers. Both acceptance and evaluation criteria may be tied to contractual obligations, which can introduce associated legal and political issues and risks into the project.

Well, that is our closer look at one of the 16 recommended techniques used by business analysts, acceptance and evaluation criteria.  Give a shout if you have another BABOK® technique you would like to explore in more detail!

Susan Weese

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