Acceptance Criteria. When User Stories have Acceptance Criteria (or Acceptance Tests), they can help us plan our exploratory and automated testing. But they can only go so far.
Four distinct Acceptance Criteria does not dictate four distinct test cases, automated or manual.
Here are three flavors of Acceptance Criteria abuse I’ve seen:
- Skilled testers use Acceptance Criteria as a warm-up, a means of getting better test ideas for deeper and wider coverage. The better test ideas are what need to be captured (by the tester) in the test documentation...not the Acceptance Criteria. The Acceptance Criteria is already captured, right? Don’t recapture it (see below). More importantly, try not to stop testing just because the Acceptance Criteria passes. Now that you’ve interacted with the product-under-test, what else can you think of?
- The worst kind of testing is when testers copy Acceptance Criteria from User Stories, paste it into a test case management tool, and resolve each to Pass/Fail. Why did you copy it? If you must resolve them to Pass/Fail, why not just write “Pass” or “Fail” next to the Acceptance Criteria in the User Story? Otherwise you have two sources. Someone is going to revise the User Story Acceptance Criteria and your test case management tool Acceptance Criteria instance is going to get stale.
- You don’t need to visually indicate that each of your distinct Acceptance Criteria has Passed or Failed. Your Agile team probably has a definition of “Done” that includes all Acceptance Criteria passing. That being said, if the User Story is marked Done, it means all the Acceptance Criteria passed. We will never open a completed User Story and ask, “which Acceptance Criteria passed or failed?”.