Moscow Method

MoSCoW Method: An Organizational Tool

What is the MoSCoW Method?

Prioritising is often challenging. Particularly when it comes the implementation of new ideas and/or technologies. Everyone in an organisation always wants everything to be done right away and that is practically impossible. There are several tools available to make prioritisation easier. The MoSCoW method is one them.

Dai Clegg from the software company Oracle invented MoSCoW Method. The method labels each requirement, making it easier to prioritise.

Even though the origin of this prioritize method is in software development, it is also highly applicable for education, as a time management and organizational tool for long term assignments/projects/Exhibition, etc. With MoSCoW Method, requirements are determined for the result of the project or product.

The MoSCoW Method is about setting requirements by order of priority. The most important requirements need to be met first for a greater chance of success.

The MoSCoW Method is an acronym made up of the first letters. The two Os have been added to make the word ‘moscow’ readable, they don’t have any meaning themselves. The M stands for ‘Must haves‘, S for ‘Should haves‘, C for ‘Could haves‘ and W for ‘Won’t haves‘ or ‘Would haves.


It’s a good idea to first specify the requirements before starting the MoSCoW Method. When determining the requirements, you should take into account what is important [to successfully complete a project]. The project requirements are divided into one of the following categories:

M – Must Haves

These are about the minimal requirements that are determined in advance that the end-result has to meet. Without meeting these requirements, the project fails and the product won’t be use-able. They are a necessity for a workable product and there is no alternative. The ‘Must haves’ are essential.

S – Should Haves

These are additional and much desired requirements that have a high priority but are not essential for a usable end product. The product will be usable even if these requirements aren’t met. When they are met, they will only add to the value of the product. Depending on the available time, you can always return to these requirements at a later time.

C – Could Haves

These requirements can be considered if there’s time left. If not, it’s no problem and will not have a negative effect on the final result. The ‘Could haves’ have a lower priority than the ‘Should haves’. This option will only be included if there really is more than enough time to make it work. This category is also referred to as ‘nice to have’; they’re more a wish than an absolute requirement.

W – Won’t Haves (and would haves)

These are about wishes for the future that are often impossible to realize or cost a lot of time. If it’s simply not possible, it’s best not to waste any energy on it. If it is achievable, then a lot of time (and money) will have to be invested and it’s labelled a ‘Would have’. ‘Would haves’ are often followed upon at a later stage after the initial project is finished.


Correctly applying and sticking to the MoSCoW Method will lead to a clear way to complete a project. Everyone involved with the project will know what needs to be done first, when it has to be finished and why it’s important. By assigning priorities to requirements, a project becomes more manageable and it’ll be easier to meet the deadline.

Development and support of a project is also made easier by initially ignoring less important requirements. By focusing on the key requirements, you end up with a sell-able product that meets the minimum requirements. That way, must haves become unique selling points, which will benefit the buyer.

It’s Your Turn

What do you think? How might you apply the MoSCoW Method in your school or with your class? How might the method help students stay on track? 

Source: Modified - Form Article by PATTY MULDER (Article in Toolshero)

MoSCoW Method Example

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MoSCoW Method Example

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MoSCoW Method Example

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