A MoSCoW analysis is a useful method for agreeing what is important when releasing a new product or service.
First things first, MoSCoW stands for Must, Should, Could and Will not.
When you are running a project to deliver something new, you need to manage what features are the most important. If you do not manage prioritization, scope creep will happen and the project will inevitably run over time and over budget.
To avoid this you should agree which features are the most important and which can either wait for another day or you can discard. This is when you can use a MOSCOW analysis.
General tips for completing a MoSCoW analysis
1. Agree the criteria and definition before you begin.
2. Always keep an eye on costs and budget – this will help focus decisions.
3. Limit the amount of people in any debate. More voices usually means less agreement, not more.
4. List out the MoSCoW results by department/team. This will stop one area being too dominant.
Must Have features
This is actually one of the easier areas to agree on but you must set the rules out very clearly. Must have features should fit into one of the following categories only;
Regulatory – without these features you will not be compliant.
Legal – any element which makes sure that your legal team are happy to sign off and does not put you at risk.
Core – without core features the project will not deliver what it was supposed to deliver.
Should Have features
Deciding which are must have and which are should have is simple for regulatory or legal as it is usually a yes or no. Core features can be more of a debate as decisions get more subjective. Agree the definition before the discussion. Also get an idea of how many should haves can be delivered as just because they are not in the must category does not mean they won’t be delivered on Day one.
Could Have features
This is often the hardest debate when producing a MoSCoW analysis. Many could features will not make it to the first release. Be pragmatic and always consider the project as a whole. Especially the finances.
Will Not Have features
Like the Must Haves, this area tends to be easier. If it costs too much or delivers very little then remove it. If the effort is too much, then remove it from scope.
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