Don’t worry, we’ve not been taken over by Russian spies. MoSCoW is the method we swear by when developing client projects.
A derivative of DSDM Practice, MoSCoW is a great way to ensure products are well scoped, clearly defined and a heirachy of importance identified at the very start of the process.
Using this method forces initial stage critical thinking of each feature and gets client, stakeholders and the development team working to the same priorities.
We’ve summarised how this works and why when we’re building your next project we believe MoSCoW is the way to go.
The Minimum Usable SubseT (MUST) of requirements that the project guarantees to deliver. These can be things like ‘No point releasing without this feature’ or ‘Without this the product isn’t legal, or safe’.
The simple question we ask ourselves is ‘what happens if we launch without this?’ and if the answer is that the product is is meaningless, or fundamentally flawed without it then its a Must Have. Whatever happens in the rest of the project and with any of the below these items are critical and there is simply no point developing if the Must Haves cannot be achieved.
These are important but not vital. It may be a pain point if these features don’t make it into the final product for the deadline, but the product is still viable without it. We establish the difference between a Must and a Should by identifying the level of pain that will be caused if the requirement is not met.
These are nice to haves. Finishing touches. Things that are added if there is time.
Could haves are often emotionally challenging things to define but don’t carry the same practical weight in terms of their impact on the project.
These are features or functionality that could be added to the product if there is time, or if the product as a whole is ahead of schedule. But everyone involved accepts that these are icing on the cake features which will likely come in future versions.
As important as defining what the product will do it is essential to define what it won’t. Being absolutely clear about what a product won’t do keeps the focus on the heirachy of importance and prevents the scope from drifting away from what is there to deliver. Failing to respect the Won’t Haves and allowing last minute additions risks taking essential development time away from the Could, Should and Must Haves.
Why is this important?
DSDM and the MoSCoW method prioritise quality and deadline over non prioritiy functionality. Ultimately the most important aspect of a product is that it arrives on time and achieves its core purpose. Nothing else should be allowed to get in the way and delay your product getting into the hands of the users it is there to benefit.
User data is the best indicator of what you need to build next and once that feedback and analysis starts to come in the shoulds, coulds and wont’s may change quickly and the feature that felt important during development may well fall by the wayside based on how your users interact with your product.
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