In today’s blog post, I will share another useful business tool, the MoSCoW analysis.

What is the MoSCoW analysis?

The MoSCoW analysis is a popular prioritization technique for managing requirements and used in business analysis or project management.

The purpose is to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement.


  • What does the acronym MoSCoW stand for?
  • Who developed this tool?
  • When should you use the MoSCoW analysis?
  • Why is this method better than other prioritizing techniques?
  • How does this prioritization technique work?
  • ⇒ Summary

What does the acronym MoSCoW stand for?

It stands for 4 different categories of initiatives:

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

Who developed this tool?

  • MoSCoW was developed by Dai Clegg of Oracle UK in 1994.
  • It has been made popular by exponents of the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM).

When should you use the MoSCoW analysis?

  • The method is commonly used to help key stakeholders understand the significance of initiatives in a specific release.
  • It helps teams who would like to include representatives from the whole organization in their process.
  • It makes it easier to decide which requirements to complete first which must come later and which to exclude.
  • It allows your team to determine how much effort goes into each category, so you’re delivering a good variety of initiatives each release.

Why is this method better than other prioritizing techniques?

  • A simple high, medium or low classification is weaker because definitions of these priorities are missing or need to be defined. This categorization doesn´t provide the business with a clear promise of what to expect. 
  • A simple sequential 1,2,3… priority is weaker because it deals less effectively with items of similar importance. This technique might lead to be prolonged and heated discussions over whether an item should be one place higher or lower.

In contrast, the specific use of Must Have, Should Have, Could Have or Won’t Have this time provides a clear indication of that item and the expectations for its completion.

How does this prioritization technique work?

Before running the analysis…

  • It is important to align key stakeholders and the product team on objectives and prioritization factors.
  • Then all participants must agree on which initiatives to prioritize.

With the groundwork done, you may begin determining which category is most appropriate for each initiative.

Running the analysis…

  • You´ll need to rank your project according to the following four categories.
  • Let’s break down each category:

M = “Must Have”

  • The must requirements are non-negotiable. They are mandatory requirements to meet the business needs.
  • They provide a coherent solution that alone leads to project success.
  • Failure to deliver even one of them will likely mean the project has failed.

S = “Should Have” 

  • “Should” level requirements should be included if possible but project success does not rely on it.
  • If it will not jeopardize any of the “Must” requirements, then these requirements should be delivered or included.

C = “Could Have”

  • The “Could” level requirements could be included if it doesn’t have any impact on any of the ‘Should’ or ‘Must’ requirements.
  • They are nice to have and do not affect the overall success of the project.
  • Could requirements are the first to go if the project timeline or budget comes under pressure.

W = “Won’t Have this time” 

  • The “Won’t” level requirements tend not to get included, delivered or implemented this time.
  • However, they will be favored for a future delivery or implementation.


  • Key Point #1: The MoSCoW analysis is a popular prioritization technique for managing requirements and used in business analysis or project management.
  • Key Point #2: When managing a project, it is important to have a clear set of prioritized and agreed requirements with the customer.
  • Key Point #3: To deliver a successful project, you´ll need to agree on the overall objective, quality criteria, timescale and budget.
  • Key Point #4: Once there is a clear set of requirements, you´ll need to rank them according to the following categories: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have or Won’t Have this time.
  • Key Point #5: This ranking helps customer, project manager, designer, developers to understand the most important requirements, in what order to develop them, and what not to deliver.
  • Key Point #6: This framework clarifies the expectations for the project completion.

Supporting you

I´m available to support you by re-imagine your business and propel it to the next level. The MoSCoW analysis will help you to analyze your current prioritization practices and to find new ways to be more efficient in your project delivery.

Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute strategy session:

Coming up next month

In my next blog post, I´ll share how to determine the right strategy for your business.

Stay tuned!

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