The MoSCoW Method
Understanding Project Priorities
(Also Known As MoSCoW Prioritization and MoSCoW Analysis)
You probably use some form of prioritized To-Do List to manage your daily tasks. But what happens when you're heading up a project that has various stakeholders, each of whom has a different opinion about the importance of different requirements? How do you identify the priority of each task, and communicate that to team members, stakeholders and customers alike?
This is when it's useful to apply a prioritizing tool such as the MoSCoW method. This simple project-management approach helps you, your team, and your stakeholders agree which tasks are critical to a project's success. It also highlights those tasks that can be abandoned if deadlines or resources are threatened.
In this article, we'll examine how you can use the MoSCoW method to prioritize project tasks more efficiently, and ensure that everyone expects the same things.
What Is the MoSCoW Method?
The MoSCoW method was developed by Dai Clegg of Oracle® UK Consulting in the mid-1990s. It's a useful approach for sorting project tasks into critical and non-critical categories.
MoSCoW stands for:
- Must – "Must" requirements are essential to the project's success, and are non-negotiable. If these tasks are missing or incomplete, the project is deemed a failure.
- Should – "Should" items are critical, high-priority tasks that you should complete whenever possible. These are highly important, but can be delivered in a second phase of the project if absolutely necessary.
- Could – "Could" jobs are highly desirable but you can leave them out if there are time or resource constraints.
- Would (or "Won't") – These tasks are desirable (for example, "Would like to have…") but aren't included in this project. You can also use this category for the least critical activities.
The "o"s in MoSCoW are just there to make the acronym pronounceable.