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MoSCoW Method

The MoSCoW Method was created by Dai Clegg during his time at Oracle UK in 1994. The method is often associated with agile project management and software development methodologies, particularly the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). Dai Clegg intended for this framework to assist in prioritising work items by conveying the level of importance among them.

The MoSCoW Method has since become widely adopted across various industries, not just in software development but also in business analysis, project management, and other areas where prioritisation and resource allocation are key. It's a versatile tool that helps teams to focus on what's crucial, especially when resources and time are limited.

The MoSCoW Method is a prioritisation framework that helps in decision-making and delegation, especially in project management and software development settings. The acronym stands for Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won't-haves. Here's how each category is defined:

  • Must-Haves - These are non-negotiable tasks or features that are critical for the project to be considered complete. They have to be done to meet the project's objectives and often have legal or other serious implications if omitted.
  • Should-Haves - While important, these tasks are not immediately crucial for project delivery. If there's time and resources, they should be completed, but they can be postponed without causing a project failure.
  • Could-Haves - These are tasks or features that would be nice to include but are not essential. They are often considered as the "icing on the cake" and are typically the first to be removed or deferred if resources are constrained.
  • Won't-Haves - These are items that, although identified, are not planned for this cycle or delivery. They may be reconsidered in the future but are currently not a focus.
In terms of delegation, the MoSCoW Method can be highly effective. Leaders can allocate tasks based on these categories, ensuring that team members are focused on the most critical aspects first (Must-haves) before moving down the list. This framework also aids in setting clear expectations and deadlines, as it is easier to explain why certain tasks take precedence over others.

This method is particularly useful in agile methodologies where the scope and requirements may change over time. However, it can be applied in various contexts, not just in project management or software development.
For more on the topic of delegation, view our article 7 Models for Delegation.
Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.

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