metre rulerThe metre rule reminds you of the importance of clear, specific, objectively measurable acceptance criteria.

Payment milestones are often associated with the meeting of acceptance criteria. So, if the milestones are hurdles that the supplier must “jump”, the acceptance criteria tell the supplier “how high”.

It’s important that the acceptance criteria are clear, unambiguous and objectively measurable, hence our “metre rule”. Both the supplier and the customer must be comfortable that they know what a successful outcome looks like, and it is often a good idea to define the acceptance criteria before work starts.

Good acceptance criteria are often defined with reference to the specification, (see the document for more details). This gives a clear baseline on which both parties are agreed.

With a product that can be tested (whether physical or software), you might want to define your acceptance criteria in terms of how many errors or faults of each severity level may exist in the deliverables, before it becomes unacceptable. So, for example, you might be willing to have a small number of low-severity errors or faults and still be prepared to accept the deliverables, but a single high-severity error might be enough to cause the whole thing to be rejected.

This can be applied both at the level of the individual product and (particularly if you are buying for retail or distribution) at the consignment level. So you might, for example, state the maximum number of faulty products per batch that are permitted before the whole batch is rejected.

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