How to Prioritize Using MoSCoW

pexels photo 417322

pexels photo 417322

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Have a load of stuff to do but you’re struggling to prioritize it? Too many ideas or initiatives? Join the club. This is a common problem in business and projects. With a list as long as your arm, how are we to rank them?

Prioritizing is something that a lot of people have to do to be successful:

[Can you name any more…?]

There is a method that I want to share with you that will help you with this, and it’s easier than you might think. Anybody can do it, in fact.

I am guessing you’ve never heard of MoSCoW? No, not the capital of Russia. It’s an acronym:

M = Must
S = Should
C = Could
W = Would

[Ignore the two Os. They’re in there to make the acronym more memorable!]

How to Use Them

It’s easy. Take your list of tasks or business objectives. For example, an online retailer is planning it’s annual improvement program, and has identified many (too many) initiatives:

A rag-tag bunch of stuff that needs doing. So how do you use MoSCoW to help prioritize? Simple – we state if we:

And so to apply to our list…

Get the picture?

We now have our prioritized list:

  1. We must change data privacy policies to be in line with new regulations because not doing so would mean we are in breach of the law
  2. We should renegotiate courier service levels to reduce delivery timescales by 25% because the saving will make the difference between breaking even and being in profit
  3. We should find alternative packaging supplier to reduce risk of diminished stock levels because running out of stock will cause us a big issue with our major customers
  4. We could update the product images on our website to make them more appealing to customers if we have surplus in our website budget
  5. We could change stationery supplier because the current supplier has had negative press about their choice of endorsees, but as we are not directly linked to the supplier it is unlikely to cause us embarrassment
  6. We would implement a new Enterprise Resource Management tool but we are still only 1 year into a 5 year contract with our existing vendor, and our break doesn’t kick into year 3

Using this method doesn’t look like rocket science, and its simplicity might leave you wondering why it is so effective, but once you try it in your own project or business, you will use it all the time.

This post is part 5 of 5 in the series Successful Project Management
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