What is the MoSCoW Method?

The MoSCoW Method is a prioritization tool that helps professionals in managing their time and effort.

 

To do so, it proposes to classify the importance of the different characteristics of a product (or a Project) according to their importance.

 

Its name is an acronym of the 4 Prioritization Categories proposed (adding two “o”):

  • Must Have.
  • Should Have.
  • Could Have.
  • Won’t Have.

Four Prioritization Categories

Must Have: Essential Requirements that the product or project must have.

  • Critical Features without replacement.

 

Should Have: Important desired Requirements for the product or project.

  • They can be substituted if necessary.

 

Could Have: Improvements to the product or project.

  • There are different alternatives.

 

Won’t have: Characteristics agreed not to be adopted.

  • No one will waste time implementing them.

 

Let’s see the first example:

MoSCoW Method example

 

Imagine that you have been hired to create a Website for a Law firm.

 

They want a professional Site where people can Register and, once inside, track their court cases.

 

Since you want to deliver the best possible Site on time, you decide to follow the MoSCoW method.

How does it look like?

 

Must Have:

  • Solid programming without any bugs.
  • A Solid Register System.
  • A Safe and Reliable personal directory.

 

Should Have:

  • A Fast Site.
  • An outstanding Design.
  • Notifications sent by e-mail.

 

Could Have:

  • Custom menus.
  • Suggestions.
  • A Blog section with latest news.

 

Won’t Have:

  • Paid content.
  • A Public Members section.
  • Ads.

As we usually say, this Method may seem obvious.

 

Then… Why is it important?

Why is the MoSCoW Method important?

Many of professionals end up wasting time, effort and resources on useless tasks that are ultimately not essential at all.

 

Surely you have experienced this situation working in a Team:

  • Everyone spends hours modifying a minor feature and, ultimately, the important thing is missing.

 

That is why this Method is so important:

  • Because it concentrates your efforts and forces you to think about what is really important.

As you can imagine, this Tool can be employed in practically all kinds of situations.

 

But when do we especially recommend it?

When should you use the MoSCoW Method?

We highly recommend to use the MoSCoW Method:

  • When working in a team.
    • To put order and prioritization.
  • In Design tasks.
    • To avoid wasting time with non-essential touch-ups.
  • When there is a close deadline.
    • In order to meet the Essential Requirements.
  • With modular products or projects.
    • When the product can have very different characteristics.

 

Now, let’s see more examples:

MoSCoW Method examples

We have chosen different real examples where the MoSCoW Method can be of great help for the development of certain products.

 

Let’s begin:

A Wallet - MoSCoW Method example

 

Let’s imagine that you are developing a wallet.

 

As you know, wallets are very modular products.

They can have:

  • Several or few departments for cards.
  • Coin purse… or not.
  • 1 or 2 bill slots.
  • etc.

 

There is not a canonical wallet (one that is the benchmark for all the others).

  • That is why you decided to use the MoSCoW Method to develop it.

 

After some thoughts, you decide that your wallet:

 

Must Have:

  • 2 bill slots.
  • 8 compartments for credit cards.
  • High resistance materials and sewing.

 

Should Have:

  • Leather as its main material.
  • A translucid Credit card compartment.
  • A transverse horizontal compartment.

 

Could Have:

  • A striking color on the inside of the bill slots.
  • Completely black exterior color.
  • One translucid compartment for small photos.

 

Won’t Have:

  • A Coin purse.
  • A Passport compartment.
  • No zipper.

Making a Cake - MoSCoW Method example

 

In this example, we’ll imagine that you are preparing a wedding Cake.

  • You have a very rigid deadline (the wedding day, of course).

 

In addition, as you also know, Cakes can have lots of variations.

  • We could say they are very modular.

 

That is why you decide to use the MoSCoW Method.

 

How does it look?

Well, your Cake:

 

Must Have:

  • White coating.
  • 3 Floors.
  • Two sugar figurines on top.

 

Should Have:

  • 6 layers of sponge cake inside.
  • Belgian chocolate between the layers.
  • Decorations on the edges

 

Could Have:

  • Sugar flowers.
  • Chocolate balls.
  • Scattered sugar pearls.

 

Won’t Have:

  • Multicolor layers.
  • An excessive amount of decoration.
  • Fruit flavor.

Designing a Poster - MoSCoW Method example

 

You are now an artist hired to Design a poster for a Rock concert.

 

Obviously, this is a Design job with infinite variations possible.

  • Also, you have a close deadline to finish it.

 

No need to mention that you will use the MoSCoW Method.

 

Finally, the Poster:

 

Must Have:

  • The name of the Main rock band, very prominent.
  • Images and colors that best suit their style.
  • A typeface that best suits the musical style.

 

Should Have:

  • An illustration related to Rock in the middle.
  • The name of the rest of the bands that will play.
  • Where and when it will take place.

 

Could Have:

  • Where you can buy the tickets.
  • Nearby metro and bus stations.
  • The name of the city.

 

Won’t Have:

  • The maximum capacity of the stadium
  • At what time each band will play.
  • The price.

Summarizing

The MoSCoW Method is a prioritization tool that helps professionals in managing their time and effort.

 

It proposes to classify the importance of the different characteristics of a product in 4 Categories:

  • Must Have.
  • Should Have.
  • Could Have.
  • Won’t Have.

 

Although this Method can be used in all kinds of situations, we highly recommend to use it:

  • When working in a team.
  • In Design tasks.
  • When there is a close deadline.
  • With modular products or projects.

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