What is MoSCoW prioritization?

MoSCoW prioritization helps teams with managing tasks and setting appropriate scale of importance. Find out how to use it!

 

Keyword(s): MoSCoW Prioritization

The MoSCoW prioritization, also know as MoSCoW method or MoSCoW analysis, is a very popular and useful technique used in project management, busines analysis and software development. Its main assumption is to prioriritize tasks in order to bring the most success for the product and that the team works smoothly and effectively. Created by software development expert Dai Clegg, the method was originally intended for time-boxed projects. Over time, the prioritization processes began to grow and develop as more and more people started using them and eventually it became a globally recognized method that supports many teams around the world.

Who uses MoSCoW prioritization?

MoSCoW prioritization will play an important role in Agile Project Manegement, Business Analysis or Software Development where it can be used for prioririzating tasks, products or user cases.

What does MoSCoW stand for?

The letters in MoSCoW represent four different initiatives. Mo stands for "must-haves", S for "should-haves", Co for "could-haves" and W - won't-haves. All these categories are used to sort the tasks according to the appropriate priority scale, which will improve the outcome of the product. 

How to differentiate and set the priorities?

Setting priorities is all about sorting tasks and distinguishing the ones that are most important and significant to the project from the ones that are less important, to the ones that are almost unnecessary for the project at any given time.

When prioritizing, don't be afraid to decide that some components may not necessarily be done in this sprint or release. This is the essence of the MoSCoW prioritization - it minimizes the waste of time and allows the team to focus on the most important aspects of the project, which may simply save us from damages such as reducing the effort of team members or ruining the results of their work. 

Let's take a closer look at all the initiatives

Must-haves

The highest priority of tasks without which the project will not work. The elements of the project marked by the team as "must-haves" are essential to the project and non-negotiable cannot be omitted or put aside. To classify the must-have task, write one question:

Will the product work without it?

If the answer is no, it is a must-have.

Should-haves

Second priority of tasks. They are essential to the product and should be performed wherever possible, but postponing them will not adversely affect the product. Contrary to the must-haves, it is a category of tasks without which the project can and will work.

Could-haves

Third-level priority of tasks. They can be temporarily omitted or put aside without causing damage to the project. They are less important than should-haves, but still relevant to the overall project, yet their validity is much less than when it comes to should-haves.

Won't-haves 

Lowest priority of tasks, often called "won't have this time". If the tasks cannot be completed at the moment or are difficult to implement at that particular time, the team may decide to postpone them and return to them when they will have the possibility, probably in another sprint, next release or just at a different time.

MoSCoW method in practice

The first step of the MoSCoW prioritization is in the hands of the product team, which analyzes the different product features and places them in the appropriate priority categories. Later established prioritization is introduced to the team along with the divided tasks. Thanks to the MoSCoW method, tasks and requirements are organized and we are sure that the components will be implemented correctly without losing anything that could damage the project. It also helps to keep the performance of team members at the required level, considering that they are not overwhelmed with too many tasks that would bring chaos and negative causes such as overwork.

Why is MoSCoW prioritization so useful?

MoSCoW prioritization is a very effective method, especially when the number of tasks is high or there is a lot of people involved in the project. By prioritizing we can make sure that we won't miss the tasks that non-negotiable have to be done and that our team won't feel overworked by postponing the tasks that can be easily done some other time.

Benefits of MoSCoW prioritization

MoSCoW prioritization is a method that helps teams improve the quality of their performance and the results of their projects, which affects both the team spirit, user experience and customer relations. Using MoSCoW leads to: 

  • Increasing the efficiency of the team
  • Product quality improvement
  • Reduce waste of money and resources
  • Organizing your workflow

These and many other benefits are the reason why it became so popular and globally recognized method for prioritizing the task. Many teams improved their productivity and product value by correctly prioritizing based on the MoSCoW analysis. 

See the list of our courses in Project Management and use MoSCoW to improve the quality of your work. 

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