Exit Criteria are program-specific accomplishments that must be satisfactorily demonstrated before a program can progress further in the current acquisition phase or transition to the next acquisition phase.
Definition: Exit criteria are the pre-determined requirements that must be met in order for a process, project or program to progress to the next step.
Purpose of Exit Criteria
The purpose of exit criteria is to have a “control mechanism” to verify that a requirement has been met and the service, product, or process can move to the next step.
Exit Criteria Selection
Exit criteria are normally selected to track progress in important technical, schedule, or management risk areas. They serve as gates that, when successfully passed or exited, demonstrate that the program is on track to achieve its final program goals and should be allowed to continue with additional activities within an acquisition phase or be considered for continuation into the next acquisition phase. Exit criteria are some level of demonstrated performance outcome (e.g., level of engine thrust), the accomplishment of some process at some level of efficiency (e.g., manufacturing yield), or successful accomplishment of some event (e.g., first flight), or some other criterion (e.g., the establishment of a training program or inclusion of a particular clause in the follow-on contract) that indicates that aspect of the program is progressing satisfactorily. 
See: Milestone Requirements Matrix
Where are the Exit Criteria Documented
Exit criteria are documented in the Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) and are normally set by the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA).
Exit Criteria Tools
Exit Criteria Checklists, Questions, and Guidelines:
- Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Exit Criteria
- System Functional Review (SFR) Exit Criteria Questions
- Systems Requirements Review (SRR) Exit Criteria Questions
- Milestone Requirements Matrix
Entrance criteria are the minimum accomplishments required to be completed by each program prior to entry into the next acquisition phase or effort. They are documented in the Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) and are normally set by the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA).
Exit and Entrance Criteria Best Practices
- Specific entrance and exit criteria should be defined for each process phase
- The criteria can be qualitative or quantitative
- Failure requires corrective action to be implemented
- The criteria should be reviewed for an update if changes in the requirements occur
- Ensure exit and entrance criteria are written down
- Make sure all team members are aware of all criteria
Exit Criteria Examples
- Verify if All tests planned have been run.
- Verify if all technical requirements have been met.
- Verify all drawings have been approved.
- Verify if there are no quality issues.
- Verify all risks have been mitigated.
- Verify if all development activities have been completed.
- Verify if the system passed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E).
AcqLinks and References: