According to the Scrum Alliance, “MoSCoW Prioritization is a simple yet powerful tool that helps keep your backlog prioritized.” The MoSCoW Prioritization System provides an easy way to prioritize the backlog, facilitating more effective Sprint Planning. While there are several methods of prioritizing, applying MoSCoW Prioritization is simple, straightforward, and flexible.
What Is the MoSCoW Method?
MoSCoW Prioritization also referred to as MoSCoW Analysis, is a prioritization technique that focuses on the importance and urgency of requirements. Requirements are grouped into four categories: Must have (mandatory); Should have (significant); Could have (nice to have), and Won’t have (not relevant). Each category is assigned a letter, M, S, C, or W.
MoSCoW prioritization is used to define the priority of product backlog items (typically user stories) before assigning them to sprints. MoSCoW Prioritization can be described by the acronym “MUST HAVE,” “SHOULD HAVE,” “COULD HAVE,” and “WON’T HAVE.” It helps prioritize Product Backlog Items (“PBI’s”) to realize maximum business value early in the release cycle. The categories are defined as follows:
Must-Have: Mandatory for release/deliverable to be complete
Should Have: Important for release/deliverable but could defer if necessary
Could Have: Nice to have but not necessary as long as there is business value
Won’t Have: Not relevant and will be filtered out if possible
It helps encourage the product owner to think about what they need now rather than all of the nice-to-haves and the order in which the work should be done. MoSCoW Prioritization can be described by the acronym “MUST HAVE”, “SHOULD HAVE”, “COULD HAVE”, and “WON’T HAVE”.
It helps prioritize Product Backlog Items (“PBI’s”) to realize maximum business value early in the release cycle.
There Are Numerous Advantages of Applying MoSCoW Prioritization, Including:
- It helps keep the backlog prioritized
- Helps make tough decisions about what to build
- Prioritized items are easier to plan. This provides more value at the beginning of the project, rather than letting it slip through the cracks and having something less important get built instead.
If MoSCoW Prioritization is applied correctly, teams can quickly see how much work can be achieved in a given timeframe by identifying what must be done (M’s), what should be done (S’s), and what could or might be done (C’s). It also helps prevent runaway scope creep that plagues many IT initiatives because it forces product owners and developers to prioritize features and requirements. by identifying user stories and bugs.
Software development teams generally use this prioritization system to determine the order of backlog items that will be worked on and release the product iteratively. While this system is excellent for scrum and agile, it can also be applied to any methodology or situation where you need a simple mechanism to prioritize work.
Prioritization can be done in several ways. While there are numerous prioritization strategies, MoSCoW Prioritization is a great place to start – especially if you’re just starting with the agile methodology.
If your team already has a system for prioritizing backlog items, everyone must remain aligned throughout the project. The key to success is communicating and collaborating throughout the lifecycle of each sprint or release.
Who Can Use the MoSCoW Method?
The MoSCoW Prioritization method can be used by any business entity which needs to plan and execute several tasks within given time limits.
This prioritization system is especially effective in companies where managers cannot distinguish between urgent and important tasks when making plans for the future.
MoSCoW Prioritization may also help people to prioritize their tasks.
The Top Five Reasons To Implement MoSCoW Prioritization Are As Follows:
When deciding to use the MoSCoW Prioritization method, keep in mind that it is not a process for making business decisions. It is strictly a technique to prioritize backlog items to realize the maximum value early in the release cycle.
1) Prioritized Backlog –
Helps visualize the backlog items and prioritize them. It’s a planning tool that helps engage the entire team to create a product roadmap.
2) Flexible –
This approach is flexible enough for any type of backlog, whether it’s something simple or complex because it focuses on your goals and outcomes rather than an unfathomable prioritization process.
3) Scrum Ready –
Many agile methodologies recommend mapping MoSCoW Prioritization directly into the classic priorities 1, 2, 3, 4 or high, medium, low.
4) So, What’s Next? –
Helps focus conversations around real business problems and collaboratively work with users, developers, and testers to find the best solutions.
5) Creates Common Understanding –
Applying MoSCoW Prioritization provides a consistent method of prioritizing backlog items that is easy to understand across all disciplines. Apply it at the beginning of each backlog cycle, so everyone understands their role in defining product value.
The Other Reasons Why You Must Use This Technique Is As Follows:
Discuss Trade-offs Early –
This tool encourages collaboration early by making all critical stakeholder input explicit before any formal design or development takes place. This allows for better estimation because rough order of magnitude estimates are more accurate when applied early in the process where time is not wasted on lower priority tasks.
Quick Feedback –
This approach allows for immediate feedback by only asking the question, “What’s Next?” For example, when you get to the end of an iteration and know precisely.”,”,”,” what you’re doing next.
Productivity Boost –
Focusing all work on the highest priority items boosts productivity because high-value goals are achieved earlier in development cycles. This provides more time to deliver lower priority features.
Quality Control –
Many teams ignore quality until the end of a not agile-friendly project. By taking care of quality issues early in each cycle, there is time to fix them while life is more straightforward.
Sustainable Pace –
Prioritizing backlog items provides early visibility into what can be achieved with realistic estimates and encourages sustainable effort levels.
Some Tips To Keep In Mind When Using This Technique Are as Follows:
Don’t Limit Yourself –
Don’t let the MoSCoW Prioritization process limit your creativity. It’s a set of priorities, nothing more and nothing less. Don’t try to force-fit something into a bucket that doesn’t fit, or you’ll achieve low value.
Make It a Part of Your Culture –
Engage all disciplines in prioritizing backlog items so they can be discussed collaboratively. When everyone owns the product roadmap together, it becomes part of their culture, and sustainable effort levels are easier to maintain because everyone is pulling in the same direction.
What Is the Key to Effectively Using the Moscow Technique?
The key to using this technique successfully is keeping each category separate; each task must belong in one and only one type, as there is no grey area between the different levels. If you find yourself mixing functions from one group into another, that task should not be on your list until it has been prioritized again.
One common mistake people make while trying to implement this system is putting some tasks in more than one category, which will make it hard to know what needs to be completed first.
If you are using this technique for the first time, you may find yourself needing extra help at first. Quickly writing your thoughts down on paper can allow you to sort out your priorities before making them into a list.
If you prefer not to write things down that often, try putting post-it notes next to each task or on an erasable whiteboard with each category already labeled beside the appropriate functions. When completing projects, always start with your “must-have” items first and work your way down the list of priorities until everything has been crossed off or removed from the list.
These top five reasons to Implement MoSCoW Prioritization are some of the leading agile techniques used by professionals today as they encourage collaboration and, as such, can result in better estimation as rough order of magnitude estimates are more accurate when applied early in the process where time is not being wasted on lower priority tasks.