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Agile Practices

The streetwise guide to the MoSCoW prioritization technique

by agilekrc
Agile moscow requirements technique


MoSCoW is an acronym that stands for “Must have,” “Should have,” “Could have,” and “Won’t have” (or “Would like to have”). It’s a prioritization technique used in project management and agile development to categorize and prioritize requirements or features.

The MoSCoW method was developed by Dai Clegg in the late 1990s and is based on the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. This principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.



The “Must have” category includes requirements or features that are essential and critical to the success of the project. These are the items that must be delivered for the project to be considered a success.


The “Should have” category includes requirements or features that are important, but not absolutely critical. These are the items that should be delivered, if possible, but could be deferred if there are time or resource constraints.


The “Could have” category includes requirements or features that are desirable, but not necessary. These are the items that could be included if there is enough time and resources available, but could be cut if necessary without affecting the success of the project.


The “Won’t have” category includes requirements or features that are not included in the project scope but may be considered in the future.


MoSCoWing requirements on projects allows you to deliver on time by being flexible with your features. To be streetwise with the MoSCoW technique you need to follow some basic rules when prioritizating requirements.

The MoSCoW method enables you to deliver on time whilst protecting the quality of the solution. By agreeing what is important, you can flex requirements to deliver on time.


This ultimate guide helps you understand different requirements, how to prioritize these into ‘must haves’, ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’ and ‘won’t haves’, and explains why you need to accept that all requirements may not need to be prioritized as a ‘must have’.

The guide provides information on how to breakdown the categorise different requirements, with a range of tips and real MoSCoW examples to follow.

We answer questions such as ‘What happens when my customer tells me everything is a must?’, and ‘When is a must not a must?’

Download PDF

To download the streetwise guide to the MoSCoW prioritization technique, click the download button below.

Learn more

You can learn about MoSCoW prioritization by attending either an Agile Project Management course or PRINCE2 Agile course.

A few years ago agileKRC founder Keith Richards did a webinar which explained all about MoSCoW. You can watch the video recording on the MoSCoW Prioritization Technique page or download his presentation. The page also contains lots of useful questions and answers which weren’t in the video.

You can also read a more in-depth description of How to Use MoSCoW which also contains a MoSCoW infographic.

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agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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