OnlineIdea | Using the MoSCoW method in IT projects
Product management and cybersecurity
Using the MoSCoW method in IT projects

The development of dedicated IT solutions is a very complex process that requires appropriate work organisation. Problems usually arise when project requirements are not properly prioritised because then, none of them is more important than the others. Therefore, when preparing an action plan, it is important to prioritise the individual activities at an early stage.

The MoSCoW method is helpful in this regard and is ideal for a variety of IT projects, regardless of the sector or size of the company. Above all, it makes it easier to achieve a mutual understanding of expectations between the people involved, to assign specific roles and tasks and to select functionalities that will actually be useful to the end user.

What is the MoSCoW method?

MoSCoW is a requirements management technique developed by software developer Dai Clegg in the 1990s to streamline the activities of his working group, which had very little time to complete a certain assignment. The acronym MoSCoW is derived from the words M - must (have), S - should (have), C - could (have), W - won't (have). The expansions of the subsequent letters clearly indicate which element and to what extent it is relevant to the overall project.

  • Must have - mandatory requirements that the system must meet. They are non-negotiable. They may result, for example, from applicable legislation.
  • Should have - requirements that should be included in the system. Significant for implementation, but not essential. Without their implementation, the software will continue to function.
  • Could have - additional requirements that may be useful. Good to have, but nevertheless not very important (e.g. features to make it easier to use).
  • Won't have - requirements that will not be implemented at the moment, but can be implemented in the future, at a later stage of the project (they are neither essential nor crucial or even optional).

In the first instance, all requirements in the 'must' group are pursued. Only after these have been met, if budget and time allow, are further requirements implemented. It is assumed that 'M' requirements should account for up to 60% of the tasks envisaged, 'S' around 20%, and 'C' around 20% as well.

Benefits of MoSCoW analysis for IT projects

The MoSCoW method allows for effective budget control and optimum use of implementation funds. This type of prioritisation makes it possible to divide a project into phases and, in addition, to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), a kind of product prototype. This technique also makes it possible to improve communication within the team by clearly dividing up tasks - everyone knows exactly what to do and what to focus on. By carrying out a MoSCoW analysis, it is also possible to prevent the scope of the project from constantly expanding, if only by placing the least necessary functionalities in the last group, or 'won't have'.

When it comes to IT products, an idea is certainly very important, but in order to bring it to life, work needs to be organised accordingly. The MoSCoW planning technique, which is characterised by a high degree of flexibility, is helpful in this regard - it enables a rapid response to changes in priorities or customer expectations. In addition, it is very simple to apply and not very time-consuming. It is worth remembering that the systemisation of activities reduces the risk of failure of the entire project, as well as providing the client with the necessary value from the solution.

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