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MoSCoW Prioritization

Understand the relative importance of your items by categorizing each according to ‘must haves’, ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’ and ‘will not have right nows’.


Assign % of resource per category

Quantify different levels of priority

Achieve cross team buy-in

Gain alignment on priorities

Prioritize According to Available Resources

Divide your items into 4 different categories — ‘must haves’, ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’ and ‘won’t have right nows’ . ‘Must haves’ are the minimum usable subset required for the product to be launched. ‘Should haves’ are not vital to the success of the product , but can have a huge impact on it. ‘Could haves’ are items that you’d like to see in the product, but have less of an impact than ‘Should haves’. ‘Will not have right nows’ are items that are not essential, and without which the product will still be strong. First priority is to handle all of the ‘must haves’. If you still have capacity, start working on the ‘could haves’ and then ‘should haves’; ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ should be removed if there’s not enough time or resources.

Why should I use MoSCoW prioritization?

Use MoSCoW prioritization when the deadline is fixed and there’s only time to develop the more important requirements. The plain English of the MoSCoW phrasing is more effective at helping stakeholders understand the impact of prioritization than more simpler options like High, Medium and Low.

How should I use MoSCoW prioritization?

Divvy up all of your prospective items into 4 categories — ‘must haves’, ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’ and ‘wont have right nows’. Those items considered critical or essential to the products’ success are ‘must haves’ These are the first items that should be prioritized. Items that aren’t essential but can strongly impact the product are should haves’, and are next in line to be developed. ‘Could haves’ are less important than ‘should haves’, but are still important, while ‘won’t have right nows’ are items that can be pushed off for the time being.

Who are the relevant stakeholders for this view?

MoSCoW prioritization method is often used to help key stakeholders like customers, executives and other leaders, understand the relative importance of items in a given release.

What outcomes should I expect when using this view?

Get a clear understanding of the relative importance of each of your items. Offer your team greater clarity regarding where they should invest their efforts so that they can ignore those items that aren’t prioritized.

What’s the origin of MoSCoW prioritization?

Dai Clegg — a software development expert — created MoSCoW prioritization method while working at Oracle, after which it was donated to the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DDSM). It was originally conceived as a prioritization methodology for initiatives within releases with strict deadlines.

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