MoSCoW Method

Maximize Prioritization with the MoSCoW Method

In the world of Agile project management, the MoSCoW method stands out as a powerful prioritization technique.

What is the MoSCoW method?

The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique used in Agile project management, particularly in Scrum.

It helps in classifying and prioritizing requirements or backlog items based on their importance and urgency. The acronym “MoSCoW” stands for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have.

Among its four distinct steps, “Must have” holds a pivotal position. Let’s dive deeper into this crucial aspect and understand its significance in project delivery.

Defining “Must Have”

“Must have” refers to the core functionalities and non-negotiable requirements that serve as the backbone of any project. These are the essential building blocks without which the project’s success and viability would be compromised. Think of them as the fundamental ingredients that hold everything together.

Key Attributes of “Must Have”

  1. Core Functionalities: These are the critical features or capabilities that form the foundation of the project. They address the key objectives and user needs, ensuring the project’s value proposition.
  2. Non-Negotiable Requirements: “Must have” encapsulates the non-negotiable criteria that must be met to fulfill the project’s objectives and stakeholder expectations. These requirements are often the driving force behind the project’s initiation.
  3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The “must have” features are typically included in the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The MVP represents the minimum set of functionalities needed to deliver value to the users or customers. It helps validate the product concept and gather early feedback.
  4. Critical Business Needs: The “must-have” requirements closely align with the most crucial business needs and objectives that the project aims to address. These needs are usually derived from market demands, competitive analysis, or strategic goals.

Prioritizing “Must Have”

Given its utmost importance, “must-have” requirements are assigned the highest priority. They should be addressed early in the project lifecycle to ensure their timely implementation. By doing so, the project team can establish a strong foundation and focus on delivering the core value to stakeholders.

Unleashing the Power of “Should-Have” Initiatives

As we continue exploring the MoSCoW method, we come across another crucial step: “Should-have” initiatives. In this stage of prioritization, we dive deeper into features that hold significant value but are not as critical as “must-have” requirements. Let’s delve into the world of “should-have” and understand its importance in Agile project management.

Understanding “Should-Have”

“Should-have” represents features and functionalities that are desirable and bring considerable value to the project. While not as essential as “must-have” requirements, they play a significant role in enhancing the user experience, providing additional benefits, or addressing specific needs.

Key Aspects of “Should-Have” Initiatives

  1. Enhanced User Experience: “Should-have” features often contribute to an improved user experience by offering additional functionalities, convenience, or usability enhancements. These initiatives go beyond the bare minimum and aim to delight users.
  2. Additional Benefits: These initiatives bring extra value to the project, such as increased efficiency, improved performance, or expanded capabilities. While not critical to the core functionality, they enhance the overall product offering.
  3. Addressing Specific Needs: “Should-have” requirements are often identified based on user feedback, market research, or emerging trends. They address specific pain points or user preferences, making the product more appealing and relevant.

Prioritizing “Should-Have” Initiatives

In the MoSCoW method, “should-have” initiatives are given a lower priority compared to “must-have” requirements. Once the critical features are adequately addressed, the project team can focus on incorporating these desirable elements.

It’s important to note that the prioritization of “should-have” items may depend on various factors, such as available resources, project timelines, and stakeholder feedback. Balancing the value they bring with the project constraints is crucial for successful implementation.

Exploring the Potential of “Could Have” Features

Continuing our journey through the MoSCoW method, we arrive at the intriguing realm of “Could have” features. In this stage, we delve into possibilities that, while not essential or highly desirable, have the potential to enhance the project further. Let’s uncover the significance of “could-have” and how it contributes to Agile project management.

Understanding “Could Have”

“Could-have” features represent optional functionalities or enhancements that are nice to have but not crucial for project success. These features are considered potential add-ons that can provide additional value if resources and time permits.

Key Aspects of “Could Have” Features

  1. Exploratory Opportunities: “Could-have” initiatives open doors to explore additional possibilities and experiment with innovative ideas. These features often go beyond the core project requirements and offer creative solutions or alternative approaches.
  2. Flexibility and Adaptability: These features add flexibility to the project, allowing it to adapt to changing circumstances or emerging needs. By incorporating “could-have” elements, the project becomes more versatile and capable of addressing a wider range of scenarios.
  3. Nice-to-Have Enhancements: “Could-have” features provide supplementary enhancements or functionalities that can elevate the user experience or add extra value. While not essential, they contribute to creating a more polished and comprehensive end product.

Prioritizing “Could Have” Features

In the MoSCoW method, “could-have” features are assigned a lower priority compared to “must-have” and “should-have” requirements. They are typically tackled after addressing the more critical elements of the project.

The prioritization of “could-have” features depends on factors such as available resources, time constraints, and the overall project roadmap. It’s important to evaluate their potential impact and weigh it against the project’s priorities and constraints.

Embracing Focus with “Won’t Have” Choices

In our exploration of the MoSCoW method, we come to the final step: “Won’t have.” This step involves making conscious decisions about what features and functionalities will not be included in the current scope of the project. Let’s delve into the significance of “won’t have” and how it helps prioritize and streamline Agile project management.

Understanding “Won’t Have”

“Won’t have” refers to features, requirements, or ideas that will intentionally be excluded from the current project scope. These are conscious decisions made to maintain focus and avoid unnecessary distractions or scope creep.

Key Aspects of “Won’t Have” Choices

  1. Clear Scope Boundaries: “Won’t have” choices help define clear boundaries for the project. By explicitly stating what will not be included, the project team can manage expectations and ensure that resources are allocated appropriately.
  2. Streamlined Focus: By excluding certain features or functionalities, the project team can maintain a clear focus on delivering the most critical elements. This enables them to allocate resources effectively and deliver a more streamlined and impactful product.
  3. Scope Control and Avoiding Creep: “Won’t have” choices are essential for scope control, preventing unnecessary expansion of the project’s requirements. They serve as a mechanism to avoid scope creep, ensuring that the project stays within defined boundaries and remains manageable.

Communicating “Won’t Have” Decisions

It is crucial to communicate “won’t have” decisions transparently and effectively. Stakeholders need to understand the reasons behind these choices and the impact they have on the project’s objectives and timelines. Clear communication helps manage expectations and avoids potential misunderstandings.


In conclusion, the MoSCoW method is a powerful prioritization technique that brings clarity and focus to Agile project management. By categorizing requirements into “Must have,” “Should have,” “Could have,” and “Won’t have,” teams can effectively prioritize features, align stakeholder expectations, and deliver value-driven solutions.

To make the most of the MoSCoW method, consider using a dedicated tool or template. We invite you to explore our free MoSCoW method app, designed to simplify the prioritization process and streamline project management. With its intuitive interface and customizable features, the app enables you to easily organize, rank, and track requirements based on their importance and impact.

Additionally, we offer a free downloadable MoSCoW method template that you can use to kickstart your prioritization efforts. The template provides a structured framework to document and visualize your requirements, helping you make informed decisions and optimize resource allocation.

Unlock the potential of the MoSCoW method and take your Agile project management to the next level. Visit our website to access the free MoSCoW method app and download the template today. Empower your team to prioritize effectively, drive project success, and deliver outstanding results.

MoSCoW Method Template

Requirement Must have Should have Could have Won't have
Image representing Dejan Majkic, a Master in Computer Science and Information Technology, and an Agile and Scrum trainer

About the author

Dejan Majkic is a seasoned Professional Scrum Master with extensive experience in guiding teams toward success using Agile and Scrum methodologies. Click on the profile image for more information...

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