How to Work MoSCoW with Scrum

Project management, in addition to being essential for the smooth running of a company, brings with it several challenges. Delivering value within tight deadlines can be an exciting challenge, but you can avoid it through techniques such as the MoSCoW method.

You can employ many different frameworks in design, personal, or product projects. But one of the simplest to use is the MoSCoW method. It is used across all business disciplines to enable project teams to work with stakeholders to define requirements.

The MoSCoW Method comes as an extremely important tool, as it helps in determining a priority system. Thus, during the period of planning and surveying tasks, the step of classifying them according to their priority is added.

In this article, you will find out what the MoSCoW method is and its main features to help you prioritize jobs for your team’s productivity.

What is the MoSCoW Method?

The MoSCoW method is a technique for management, business analysis, software development, and project management. It defines the priority and importance of the tasks that make up a project.

The MoSCoW Technique was created by Dai Clegg, while he was developing his work at Oracle, in the 90s. Furthermore, this technique was to support the method called DSDM, also known as Dynamic Systems Development Methodology.

Therefore, we say that this method comes from agile methodologies.  As DSDM is part of these frameworks. DSDM Consortium currently owns the intellectual property of the technique.

The term MoSCoW is an acronym from the first letter of each of the four categories with the “Os” in the middle to make the word pronounceable.

  • Must Have
  • Should Have
  • Could Have
  • Won’t Have

In this sense, the order of importance of the tasks follows a descending order, where Must Have are the most relevant and Won’t Have the ones that can be left for later.

The idea behind this method is timeboxing, that is, agile projects have one to be carried out and the activities to be carried out must fit within this determined period. Thus, it is necessary to choose what needs to be done to deliver value.

The secret to project optimization is using an agile method! The Scrum framework, for example, is a method used for project management, based on software development, which benefits the company and customers with agility and flexibility in its development.

Requirements for the MoSCoW method

Raise requirements

You must have something to prioritize. It’s not specifically a part of the MoSCoW method, but you collect requirements to effectively prioritize at a second time.

This is more than just asking a few questions and then moving on to the next phase of the project. You should take the time to do complete requirements gathering.

It is a four-step process that can be used for projects large and small. The size of the project will only affect the time it takes to complete this process.


This step means you start asking questions and actively listening to responses, through interviews with stakeholders, those with experience, etc. Also, facilitated sessions, prototypes, and questionnaires are other tools you can use.


Now you start analyzing the collected data to make sure the information is accurate and represents the needs and expectations of the stakeholders. You will start consolidating, rationalizing, looking for overlaps, gaps, etc.


You will now prioritize and formalize data in a requirements definition report. You’ll also want to make sure they can be tested.


Finally, you will verify that the requirements are accurate and communicate the result to the stakeholders. And for me to revisit and approve what was raised.

By following this process to define essential and non-essential requirements for your design or product development, you can quickly see where your focus should be. This method also helps ensure that you conclude what those priorities are for each requirement early in the process.

The proportion of each category

Companies must ensure that project teams and other stakeholders agree on the project objectives. You must establish plans to resolve disagreements.

Then teams must decide what percentage of resources to assign to each category. For example, 20% of requirements you can allocate to the requirements they may have. While 40% you give to those that should and 60% to those that are mandatory.

The MoSCoW method

1. Must Have

This category consists of initiatives that are a must for the team. They represent non-negotiable needs for the project, service, product, or launch.

For example, if you’re crafting a content strategy for a client, a Must Have initiative might be building personas to keep copywriting cohesive and targeted to an industry.

Anything you consider in this category is mandatory for the team to complete. If you are unsure whether something should belong to this group, ask yourself the following questions:

  • what happens if we finish without it?
  • is there a shortcut or simpler way to end this?
  • will the project work without this task?

If the result doesn’t work or is useless without a certain task, then it’s a Must-Have.

2. Should Have

They are important to the final product, but they are not vital. If left out, delivery still works. But when included, they add significant value.

You can differ these tasks to a release in the future without impacting the current process. For example, in the same content strategy, thinking about and developing audiovisual materials is a Should Have task. Without it, the strategy works, but with it, it’s much better.

3. Could Have

Another way of describing this category is the phrase “it would be nice to have”, as these tasks are not necessary for the project to function. Compared to Should Have tasks, they have a much smaller impact on results if left out.

So Could Have initiatives are often the first to exclude if tasks in the previous two categories turn out to be bigger than expected.

4. Won’t Have

One of the benefits of the MoSCoW method is that it puts many initiatives in the “I won’t do it” category. This helps to manage expectations about what is not in a specific deliverable.

Putting tasks in this category is a way to avoid scope creep, that is, the disorganized growth of the project. If something is at this level, the team knows it’s not a priority for now, but it could be shorter.

What are the advantages?

The main advantages that we can list when using the MoSCoW technique are:

  • The method enables the participation of stakeholders and the development team together
  • It is easy to understand
  • The method Presents a simple language
  • It helps you set priorities on projects, including those that are already underway.

When to use the MoSCoW method?

The MoSCoW method is very effective for teams that want to include representatives from all departments in the company in the process, getting a broader perspective of the project.

Another reason to use MoSCoW is that it allows teams to determine how much effort to expend for each category. Therefore, you will be sure that you are developing a good range of solutions with each delivery.

Why use the MoSCoW method?

Using the MoSCoW technique works particularly well in projects. It also overcomes some problems associated with more simplistic prioritization approaches based on relative priorities.

There can be lengthy and passionate discussions about whether you should place one task above others.

In this way, the specific use of the MoSCoW categories provides a clear indication of a particular task and its completion expectations.

Is it worthy using MoSCoW method?

The MoSCoW method provides a simple prioritization process for project delivery. You can prioritize your workload. You must use it with some care as it can be very simple.

One of the great advantages of its simplicity is that it should be easy to get buy-in from other stakeholders to put it into practice.

It is most useful in time-bound situations. And you can use it to prioritize your workload as easily as you can use it for project work.

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