Even if you’ve never heard of entry criteria, you’ve used them before. Everyone who drives to work each day develops entry criteria for the process. You need to have the right clothes and equipment on your person. You also need to have gas in the car and a charged battery to get it started. These criteria are the minimum conditions for initiating the task in question.

Overview: What are entry criteria?

The concept of entry criteria is a general one that has applications far beyond the realm of business management. The term describes any kind of established conditions or barriers of entry that restrict the input into a process. They are often paired with exit criteria, which are the minimum conditions or requirements for completing the process or task in question.

3 benefits of entry criteria

Entry criteria combine quality control and process management, so they are very useful for lean business practices.

1. Improve quality

Every process or task should move a particular product or service closer to a finished state. There is an expected input and expected output. Managing the quality of input by implementing entry criteria is essential for reducing variability and maintaining acceptable quality levels in the results consistently.

2. Set workplace standards

Establishing effective entry criteria is valuable and practical all on its own, but it also has cultural benefits for the organization. Having set standards for specific tasks or processes demonstrates the company’s commitment to quality practices. It also creates a more consistent flow across the entire production or service environment.

3. Take control

Control is an essential element in any kind of lean manufacturing or management strategy. Entry criteria is one of the few ways you can leverage control over a process proactively. It’s one of the only ways to engage in true preventative action to minimize waste and defect rates.

Why are entry criteria important to understand?

They are important to understand because they are easy to misuse. Entry criteria should be set and adjusted according within the scope of the macro process.

Demonstrating insight – One of the most important things to understand about entry criteria is that they demand and demonstrate fundamental insight into a process. You can only set effective criteria if you truly understand the nature of the process, including its relation to other processes or tasks in the workflow. You can’t set proper conditions without a strong understanding of the details.

Finding balance – Criteria are among the many business management tools that are double-edged swords. Using them incorrectly can actually hinder your efforts and create more waste. Entry criteria need to be fine tuned if you want to avoid setting the bar unnecessarily high, which can lead to higher material cost and slower production time.

Data-driven development – Like most cutting-edge business practices, establishing entry and exit criteria is a data-driven project. Any business embracing lean practices should make a habit of harvesting data at every opportunity so they can start tracking their results in real time.

An industry example of entry criteria

A software company has a shared testing environment where all of their development teams deploy and test their work. Before a team can use the environment, they must make sure they meet all of the necessary requirements. This prompts the company to establish a formal list of entry criteria for all their workers.

Possible criteria include: availability of the testing environment, approval of test by project leader and verifying that the code has been checked by at least two people a minimum number of times. Testers should also already know their exit criteria before they begin testing.

3 best practices when thinking about entry criteria

Using a few basic best practices when setting or changing entry criteria can help you get more consistent and useful results.

1. Keep an eye on the exit

The primary purpose of entry criteria is to improve the consistency of quality in the result. The entry criteria serve the exit criteria, which are the predefined conditions that must be met before the process or task is considered complete. This means entry criteria should define the minimum acceptable standards for each type of input into a particular process or task.

2. Mix theory and practice

At some point you have to move from ideas to reality, but that doesn’t mean you are done with the theory. Business leaders should be ready to switch back and forth between development and implementation until they find the right balance.

3. Seek advice

Defining criteria for starting a process should be done with the help of knowledge experts. Leaders should try to bring in team members, employees or even consultants who can provide personal insight based on practical experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about entry criteria

How do entry criteria relate to STLC?

The software testing life cycle (STLC) is a basic practice in software development environments. The concept of entry criteria is frequently employed in this field in the context of virtual testing environments.

How do you set entry criteria?

Setting these conditions depends entirely on what you want to get out of it. Entry criteria should be set to exclude any input that could cause the output to fall short of the established minimum standard.

What’s the difference between entry and exit criteria?

Entry and exit criteria are matching bookends and one serves the other. Exit criteria should be set first, because they are based on customer value, and entry criteria should be set to match those needs.

Plan with purpose

Entry criteria is the logical course for businesses that want to exercise more control over their processes, reduce total variability and establish minimum quality standards throughout their operations. However, as leaders plan their preventative measures they need to keep their eyes on the final destination at all times.

About the Author