Primer - How To Prioritize Customer Requirements using MoSCoW Framework

What is MoSCoW Framework? What are the Pre-Requisites before MoSCoW Framework can be implemented?How to Determine Priority of Requirements? Why MoSCoW

The MoSCoW Framework to Align Customer Requirements with Value

Questions Addressed by this Primer:

  • What is MoSCoW Framework?
  • What are the Pre-Requisites before MoSCoW Framework can be implemented?
  • How to Determine Priority of Requirements?
  • What is difference between MoSCoW and Agile Frameworks?
  • When to Use the MoSCoW Framework?

What is MoSCoW Prioritizing Methodology?

The MoSCoW method is a popular prioritization technique for managing requirements, aligned with value driven outcome. Software development expert Dai Clegg created the MoSCoW method while working at Oracle. He designed the framework to help his team prioritize tasks during development work on product releases. Detailed account of using MoSCoW prioritization in the Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM) handbook.

Video summary of the article:

The acronym MoSCoW represents four categories of initiatives: must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have. Some companies also use the “W” in MoSCoW to mean “wish”.

1. Must-have initiatives are “musts” for your team. They represent non-negotiable needs for the project, product, or release in question. For example, if you’re releasing a healthcare application, a must-have initiative may be security functionalities that help maintain compliance.

2. Should-have initiatives are just a step below must-haves. They are essential to the product, project, or release, but they are not vital. If left out, the product or project still functions. However, the initiatives may add significant value.

3. Could-have initiatives would be nice to have but are not essential.

4. Won’t-have (this time) initiatives are those that are not essential and can be excluded from the project without jeopardizing its success.

What are the Pre-Requisites before MoSCoW can be implemented?

Before running a MoSCoW analysis, a few things need to happen. First, key stakeholders and the product team need to get aligned on objectives and prioritization factors. Then, all participants must agree on which initiatives to prioritize. At this point, the team should also discuss how they will settle any disagreements in prioritization. If you can establish how to resolve disputes before they come up, you can help prevent those disagreements from holding up progress. Finally, you’ll also want to reach a consensus on what percentage of resources you’d like to allocate to each category.

How to Determine Priority of Requirements?

With the groundwork complete, you may begin determining which category is most appropriate for each initiative. To choose an objective ranking or scoring system for MoSCoW prioritization, you will need a separate ranking methodology. You can choose from many, such as:

1. Weighted Scoring: A prioritization method that assigns scores to initiatives based on their importance and impact.

2. Value vs. Complexity: A prioritization method that evaluates initiatives based on the value they provide and the complexity of implementing them.

3. Kano Model: A prioritization method that evaluates initiatives based on their ability to satisfy customers.

4. Buy-a-Feature: A prioritization method that involves customers or stakeholders in the decision-making process by giving them a budget to "buy" the features they want.

5. Opportunity Scoring: A prioritization method that evaluates initiatives based on their potential to generate revenue or achieve strategic goals.

Scenario: How do Apply MoSCoW to a Software Release?

Here is an example of how a tech company might apply the MoSCoW method to prioritize features for a new software release:

1. Must-have: These are non-negotiable requirements that the software must have in order to function. For example, compatibility with the latest operating systems and security features to protect user data.

2. Should-have: These are important features that add significant value to the software but are not vital for its basic functionality. For example, integration with other commonly used software or improved performance and speed.

3. Could-have: These are desirable features that would enhance the user experience but are not essential. For example, a new user interface design or additional customization options.

4. Won't-have (Wish): These are features that are not essential and can be excluded from the current release without jeopardizing its success. For example, support for less commonly used languages or niche functionality.

The tech company would gather all the requirements for the new software release and evaluate their value and urgency vs the value they create. Each requirement would then be assigned to one of the four MoSCoW categories using clear and objective criteria.

MoSCoW vs Agile Methodology:

The MoSCoW method and Agile methodology are not directly comparable as they serve different purposes. The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique that can be used within Agile methodology to help manage requirements.

Agile methodology is a project management approach that emphasizes flexibility and customer satisfaction. It involves iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams.

Here are 2 pros and cons of each:

MoSCoW method:


  1. Easy to use and understand.
  2. Helps resolve disputes and form agreements with stakeholders.


  1. Can be subjective as it relies on the team's judgment to categorize initiatives.
  2. May not work well for complex projects with many interdependent tasks.

Agile methodology:


  1. Emphasizes flexibility and adaptability to changing requirements.
  2. Encourages customer involvement and feedback throughout the development process.


  1. Can be challenging to implement in organizations with rigid hierarchies and processes.
  2. May require more time and effort for planning and communication.


The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique that can be used to manage requirements. It is generally used in Agile project management and software development companies, but the principles can be useful for helping any business to prioritize tasks.

You can use the MoSCoW method when you need to:

  • Prioritize tasks or initiatives within a project.
  • Resolve disputes and form agreements with stakeholders.
  • Ensure a minimum viable product is produced.
  • Set priorities at different levels of the development pipeline. 


Business Strategist, empowering Entrepreneurs through democratization of business knowledge

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post