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How To Prioritise Requirements With The MoSCoW Technique

IntroductionOn most projects, we talk about requirements and features that are either in scope or out of scope. But to manage those requirements effectively we also have to prioritise them. And this is where the MoSCoW technique comes in.Let me explain what M, S, C, and W stand for.M is a must-have requirement. Something that’s essential to the project and that’s not negotiable.S is a should-have requirement. Something we need in the project if at all possible.C stands for could-have. Something that’s nice to have in case we have extra time and budget.W is a will not have requirement. Something that’s out of scope, at least this time around.Why to use MoSCoW technique for requirement prioritization?Using the MoSCoW technique gives us a more granular view of what is in or out of scope of the project, and it helps us deliver the most important requirements to the customer first. In other words, it helps you to manage your client’s expectations. And as you will come to see, the MoSCoW technique can also be used to delegate work and to be explicit about what needs to get done and what doesn't need to get done.Whenever I train people in the fundamentals of project management, I always teach them the MoSCoW technique. And without a fail, it ends up being one of the most useful techniques, due to its applicability and simplicity. It can even be used outside of the project space. And, if you still wonder how we arrived at MoSCoW, then we’ve simply added two o’s to turn the four letters into a memorable city name.How to use MoSCoW technique for requirement prioritization?Let us look at an example of how to use the technique in practice. I would like you to imagine that your job is to project manage an upcoming conference. This is a yearly conference where delegates will come to network and to hear industry experts talk about sustainability in project management.M- MustAs you meet with the organisation behind the event, i.e. your client, you ask them what their must-have requirements are for the conference. You are curious to know everything you must deliver to them for them to be satisfied. Your client responds that the event must be held at an indoor venue within five kilometres of the city centre and that it must be within the allocated budget. It must be able to host 150 people and it must have facilities to serve lunch.S- ShouldYou then ask your client what there should be at the event if at all possible. They answer that you should arrange for three speakers in the morning and three speakers in the afternoon. All of them should be recognised within the industry, if at all possible. In addition, you should make time for the delegates to network with each other during lunch, and lunch should, ideally, be a sit down affair with hot food. Finally, each delegate should receive a goodie bag upon arrival.C-CouldYou furthermore enquire with your client what there could be at the event. i.e. what are some nice to have requirements, which you could incorporate? You’re not promising to deliver those requirements but in case you have extra time and budget you can look into it. It turns out that your client would like to have a famous sports or businessperson open the conference. But it’s not essential and only possible if budget allows. They also think that it would be nice with a panel discussion on sustainability at some point after lunch, but it isn’t essential.W- WouldYou finally ask them what there will not be at this event, i.e. which requirements are firmly out of scope. Your client answers that there will not be multiple tracks of speakers and that there will not be any alcohol served at any point during the day. They also specify that this year there won’t be a second day of in depth workshops taking place.Using the MoSCoW technique in this way to categorise all the project’s requirements is a very user-friendly method, which your client will be able to easily understand. Initially your client may say that everything is a must-have requirement, but when you explain that must-have requirements come with a price-tag they will understand that they can’t have everything unless they increase the budget and give you more time to deliver it.When you plan your project, and put together the project plan, only include the must-have and should-have items. This is what you’re promising to deliver. You’re not promising to deliver the could-have items. They can go on a separate wish list. Also take care to properly document the will-not-have requirements. You may think that you can forget about them because they are out of scope. But, it’s necessary to document them as you may have to refer back to them later.An example of using the MoSCoW technique to describe features of a requirementWhat I really like about the MoSCoW technique is that you can also use it at a more detailed level to describe the features of a requirement. Let’s say for example that you have delegated the goodie-bag-task to one of your team members. That’s the little bag each participant will receive when they arrive at the venue and which normally contains a few freebies. It’s the team member’s job to gather the detailed requirements for the goodie-bag and to physically produce it.As you’re delegating the task, the team members would like to know what your expectations are and what they must deliver to you at the end. You should explain them all the information required clearly, such as:The requirements (M):There must be 150 goodie bagsEach bag must contain a copy of the event programme andBag as well as the event programme must be made out of recyclable materialsThe deliverables (S):There should be two free branded items inside, such as a pen and paper, if at all possible.Furthermore, explain that (C):The bag could contain something sweet, like mints, but only if a suitable sponsor is found.The bag could also contain a small bottle of water as a nice to have.Finally specify that (W):The bags will not contain any alcohol and that the combined weight will not be more than one kg.Whose responsibility is to prioritize?Business Analysts are mainly responsible to take up the most complex requirements and break down them into simple tasks that can be implemented by anyone. But, BA alone can’t do the prioritization alone. He/she needs to bring in several stakeholders  into the process and get their approval on the requirements priority. It is essential for BA to understand the dependencies between the requirements before prioritizing them.Benefits of using MoSCoW technique for Business AnalystsThe BA can make use of any prioritization techniques to prioritize the requirements thoroughly. But, MoSCoW technique is the effective one to use among all the other prioritization techniques available. Some of the benefits of using MoSCoW technique for Business Analysts is shown in the figure below.ConclusionAs we can see that we can prioritise requirements with MoSCoW technique at a high level but also at a low level to specify the detailed requirements, or features, of a product. When you use it at a low level it also helps you to delegate tasks better to team members and to set expectations. Are you ready to give it a go?
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How To Prioritise Requirements With The MoSCoW Technique

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How To Prioritise Requirements With The MoSCoW Technique

Introduction

On most projects, we talk about requirements and features that are either in scope or out of scope. But to manage those requirements effectively we also have to prioritise them. And this is where the MoSCoW technique comes in.

Let me explain what M, S, C, and W stand for.

  • M is a must-have requirement. Something that’s essential to the project and that’s not negotiable.
  • is a should-have requirement. Something we need in the project if at all possible.
  • stands for could-have. Something that’s nice to have in case we have extra time and budget.
  • W is a will not have requirement. Something that’s out of scope, at least this time around.
    MOSCOW explanation

Why to use MoSCoW technique for requirement prioritization?

Using the MoSCoW technique gives us a more granular view of what is in or out of scope of the project, and it helps us deliver the most important requirements to the customer first. In other words, it helps you to manage your client’s expectations. And as you will come to see, the MoSCoW technique can also be used to delegate work and to be explicit about what needs to get done and what doesn't need to get done.
Why MOSCOW techniqueWhenever I train people in the fundamentals of project management, I always teach them the MoSCoW technique. And without a fail, it ends up being one of the most useful techniques, due to its applicability and simplicity. It can even be used outside of the project space. And, if you still wonder how we arrived at MoSCoW, then we’ve simply added two o’s to turn the four letters into a memorable city name.

How to use MoSCoW technique for requirement prioritization?

Let us look at an example of how to use the technique in practice. I would like you to imagine that your job is to project manage an upcoming conference. This is a yearly conference where delegates will come to network and to hear industry experts talk about sustainability in project management.
MOSCOW prioritizing requirementsM- Must

As you meet with the organisation behind the event, i.e. your client, you ask them what their must-have requirements are for the conference. You are curious to know everything you must deliver to them for them to be satisfied. Your client responds that the event must be held at an indoor venue within five kilometres of the city centre and that it must be within the allocated budget. It must be able to host 150 people and it must have facilities to serve lunch.

S- Should

You then ask your client what there should be at the event if at all possible. They answer that you should arrange for three speakers in the morning and three speakers in the afternoon. All of them should be recognised within the industry, if at all possible. In addition, you should make time for the delegates to network with each other during lunch, and lunch should, ideally, be a sit down affair with hot food. Finally, each delegate should receive a goodie bag upon arrival.

C-Could

You furthermore enquire with your client what there could be at the event. i.e. what are some nice to have requirements, which you could incorporate? You’re not promising to deliver those requirements but in case you have extra time and budget you can look into it. It turns out that your client would like to have a famous sports or businessperson open the conference. But it’s not essential and only possible if budget allows. They also think that it would be nice with a panel discussion on sustainability at some point after lunch, but it isn’t essential.

W- Would

You finally ask them what there will not be at this event, i.e. which requirements are firmly out of scope. Your client answers that there will not be multiple tracks of speakers and that there will not be any alcohol served at any point during the day. They also specify that this year there won’t be a second day of in depth workshops taking place.
Using the MoSCoW technique in this way to categorise all the project’s requirements is a very user-friendly method, which your client will be able to easily understand. Initially your client may say that everything is a must-have requirement, but when you explain that must-have requirements come with a price-tag they will understand that they can’t have everything unless they increase the budget and give you more time to deliver it.

When you plan your project, and put together the project plan, only include the must-have and should-have items. This is what you’re promising to deliver. You’re not promising to deliver the could-have items. They can go on a separate wish list. Also take care to properly document the will-not-have requirements. You may think that you can forget about them because they are out of scope. But, it’s necessary to document them as you may have to refer back to them later.

An example of using the MoSCoW technique to describe features of a requirement

What I really like about the MoSCoW technique is that you can also use it at a more detailed level to describe the features of a requirement. Let’s say for example that you have delegated the goodie-bag-task to one of your team members. That’s the little bag each participant will receive when they arrive at the venue and which normally contains a few freebies. It’s the team member’s job to gather the detailed requirements for the goodie-bag and to physically produce it.

As you’re delegating the task, the team members would like to know what your expectations are and what they must deliver to you at the end. You should explain them all the information required clearly, such as:

  • The requirements (M):
    There must be 150 goodie bags
    Each bag must contain a copy of the event programme and
    Bag as well as the event programme must be made out of recyclable materials

  • The deliverables (S):
    There should be two free branded items inside, such as a pen and paper, if at all possible.

  • Furthermore, explain that (C):
    The bag could contain something sweet, like mints, but only if a suitable sponsor is found.
    The bag could also contain a small bottle of water as a nice to have.

  • Finally specify that (W):
    The bags will not contain any alcohol and that the combined weight will not be more than one kg.

Whose responsibility is to prioritize?
MOSCOW Prioritize responsibilityBusiness Analysts are mainly responsible to take up the most complex requirements and break down them into simple tasks that can be implemented by anyone. But, BA alone can’t do the prioritization alone. He/she needs to bring in several stakeholders  into the process and get their approval on the requirements priority. It is essential for BA to understand the dependencies between the requirements before prioritizing them.

Benefits of using MoSCoW technique for Business Analysts

The BA can make use of any prioritization techniques to prioritize the requirements thoroughly. But, MoSCoW technique is the effective one to use among all the other prioritization techniques available. Some of the benefits of using MoSCoW technique for Business Analysts is shown in the figure below.
MOSCOW BenefitsConclusion
As we can see that we can prioritise requirements with MoSCoW technique at a high level but also at a low level to specify the detailed requirements, or features, of a product. When you use it at a low level it also helps you to delegate tasks better to team members and to set expectations. Are you ready to give it a go?

Susanne

Susanne Madsen

Blog author

Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognised project leadership coach, trainer and consultant. She is the author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook and The Power of Project Leadership. Working with organisations globally she helps project managers step up and become better leaders.

Prior to setting up her own business, Susanne worked for almost 20 years in the corporate sector leading high-profile programmes of up to $30 million for organisations such as Standard Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. She is a fully qualified Corporate and Executive coach, accredited by DISC and a regular contributor to the Association for Project Management (APM).

Susanne is also the co-founded The Project Leadership Institute, which is dedicated to building authentic project leaders by engaging the heart, the soul and the mind.

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Both are iterative processes and have scope for changes too, not to forget their transparency and constant improvement.Here are the notable differences and similarities between Agile and Scrum:AspectsAgileScrumPhilosophyYesNoAdds processNoYesMethodologyNoYesAccommodates changeYesYesConstant improvementYesYesDeliver software early and oftenYesYesIterativeYesYesTransparencyYesYesWhen it comes to Agile and Waterfall, it can be said that Agile is much more flexible and ever-evolving while Waterfall is a rigid and inflexible process.The chances of finding similarities between these two are remote. As a matter of fact, Agile was brought into existence because of the shortfalls of Waterfall and is its polar opposite although they both strive at delivering quality products efficiently.Here are the notable differences and similarities between Agile and Scrum:AspectsAgileWaterfallSequentialNoYesRigid processNoYesFlexibleYesNoAccommodates changeYesNoContinually evolvingYesNoDeliver quality productsYesYesDefined requirementsNoYesOn comparing Agile with Kanban, although the latter implements the former in a visual manner, there are numerous differences and notable similarities, which are:AspectsAgileKanbanIterationsYesNoContinuous flowNoYesPhilosophyYesNoVisualisationNoYesContinually improvingYesYesCross-functional teamsYesNoTransparencyYesYesFaster deliveryYesYesSplitting projects into smaller segmentsYesYesUpfront planning is not necessaryYesYesEqually beneficial to all industriesNoYesNo project management methodology is 100% foolproof all the time. 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The Ultimate Guide to the Agile Manifesto

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What is Scrum Alliance® Membership?

The certification offered by Scrum Alliance® enables you to gain an understanding of the agile mindset and learn about Scrum roles, events, and artifacts. But what is Scrum Alliance®? It is a non-profit organisation that helps to create joyful, prosperous, and sustainable workplaces by inspiring and guiding the individual, leaders, and organisations with agile practices, principles, and values.Scrum Alliance® also has a strong membership community that gives an extra boost to your passion of agile journey. The membership fee which you need to pay is $50 and you need to renew your membership every year. It is an optional service which gives you access to benefits that are exclusively available for the members. The benefits include access to local user groups, deep discounts off Global and Regional Scrum Gatherings, AgileCareers job board, and more. Now let’s discuss the offerings of Scrum Alliance® Membership in details.Scrum Alliance® Membership perksAs we have already discussed above, you don’t need to purchase a one-year Scrum Alliance Membership in order to take up a Scrum Alliance® course or earn a certification. Also, you do not get direct access to the online CSM® test. But you receive a complimentary membership for two years once you earn an initial certification from Scrum Alliance®, like CSM®, CSPO®, CSD®.Now let’s take a look at the perks of having a Scrum Alliance Membership. They are:Earn discounts for Regional and Global Scrum GatheringsGrab the opportunity to join a User GroupWork as a volunteerYou can find a job or post one with AgileCareers.Benefits of having a Scrum Alliance® MembershipIf you are passionate about embarking on an exciting Agile journey, then registering for Scrum Alliance Membership will provide you with the required support for it. Sign up for a Scrum Alliance Membership and get an opportunity to connect with other Scrum practitioners around the world as a part of the largest, most established, and influential professional membership organisation in the Agile and Scrum community. Moreover, you can reap the following benefits out of the membership:1. ConnectGet an opportunity to learn and network with the industry experts by participating at in-person events, including Global and Regional Gathering. Need some extra membership benefits? Scrum Alliance Membership enables you to avail exclusive membership while registering for these events.2. CommunityOnce you become a Scrum Alliance Member, you get the opportunity to share knowledge and best practices by participating in 350+ User Groups as well as give back to the community through a wide range of volunteering opportunities.3. CareerGive a new direction to your career by getting exclusive access to the job board of Scrum Alliance i.e. AgileCareers.4. CalibrateScrum Alliance® offers you a plethora of new professional development resources. Get updates on new exclusive webinars, resources, insights, and research.5. CollaborateYou become eligible for special offers as soon as you become a Scrum Alliance Member. Transform and optimize your organisation by taking advantage of product and service benefits.Steps to renew your Scrum Alliance MembershipYour Scrum Alliance Membership lasts for only a year. You need to renew your membership at the end of every year by paying $50. The renewal of membership gives you access to local user groups, exclusive discounts on Global and Regional Scrum Gatherings, AgileCareer job portal, and more. But renewing your membership doesn’t renew your certification. Follow these steps to renew your Scrum Alliance Membership:Step 1:  Log in to your account.Step 2: In the next step, you need to click on ‘Hello, [Your Name]’ which you will find in the upper righthand corner.Step 3: Next, you need to select ‘My Dashboard’.Step 4: Now you need to look for the section labelled ‘Actions’.Step 5: In the next step, you need to click on ‘Renew Membership’.Step 6: Finally, you need to pay $50 for your membership dues as soon as you get redirected to PayPal.On a concluding noteScrum Alliance Membership opens your doors towards numerous benefits that you can reap while you continue with your Agile journey. It gives you access to regional as well as global learning opportunities with an extra benefit of availing discounts on registration for the events.Further, get an opportunity to mingle with 350+ User Groups to share knowledge and best practices. Also, grab the exclusive opportunity to find a new role for yourself to give your career a new dimension by getting access to AgileCareers.Hope this article helps you to make a wise move. All the best!
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What is Scrum Alliance® Membership?

The certification offered by Scrum Alliance® enab... Read More

How to earn a Scrum Education Unit® (SEU®) from the Scrum Alliance

In the world of Agile, SEUs® stands for Scrum Education Units® (SEUs®), issued by the Scrum Alliance. It marks your participation, educational experience and continued proficiency in the underlying principles and practices of Scrum, while at the same time to maintain your certification. You can earn Scrum Education Units® (SEUs®) via completing various learning opportunities or educational training.  The process to earn SEUs® is easy and it will help you stay relevant as well as competitive in the market.Why do I need to earn SEUs®?SEUs® are required to renew foundational, advanced and professional-level certifications, which include CSM®, A-CSM®, CSP-SM®, CSPO®, A-CSPO®, CSP-PO®,  CSD®, and CSP®.SEUs® follow a ratio of 1:1, which means that for every hour spent in preparation or participation, you earn one SEU®.In order to maintain your certification for two more years, you need to submit an established number of Scrum Education Units® (SEUs®) along with a renewal fee.There are six categories from which you can choose from when selecting SEUs®, which has been discussed later in the blog.The following SEU® requirements have been in effect since February 4, 2019, with no change in the renewal fee.Certification TypeCertification (2-year term)SEUs RequiredRenewal Fee Per TermFoundationalCSM®, CSPO®, CSD®20$100AdvancedA-CSM®, A-CSPO®30$175ProfessionalCSP-SM®, CSP-PO®, CSP®40$250What are the different ways to earn SEUs®?There are six categories that you can choose from while selecting SEUs®:Category I: Scrum Alliance Scrum GatheringsParticipate in Scrum Alliance Global Gatherings, Scrum Alliance Regional Gatherings, Scrum Coaching Retreats, and Scrum Alliance-Sponsored Events, and Scrum Alliance-Endorsed User Group activities and events and earn SEUs®.Per day, a maximum of 8 SEUs® can be earned.The following are a few options for Scrum Alliance Scrum Gatherings:Attending Global Scrum GatheringAttending Regional Scrum GatheringAttending Scrum Alliance user group activityAttending Scrum Coaching RetreatAttending Scrum Alliance pre-event or post-event workshopAttending Scrum Alliance-sponsored eventAttending Scrum Alliance CSP Retreat  Category II: Scrum Alliance Courses or CoachingWork with Scrum Alliance CSTs, CTCs, CECs, and REPs to earn SEUs®. You can earn a maximum of 8 SEUs® after attending a full day training.Additional SEUs® can be earned by:Acquiring continuing education in advanced Scrum topics.Attending training courses conducted by CST®, like webinars, e-learning, recorded training, face-to-face courses.Attending training courses which are provided by Scrum Alliance® Registered Education Provider (REP).Participating in small or one-on-one group coachings provided by a CEC or CTC.Note: The CSTs, CECs, CTCs, or REPs should be verified as per the Member Directory on the Scrum Alliance website.The following are a few options for Scrum Alliance Courses or Coaching:Receiving CSM trainingReceiving CSPO trainingReceiving CSD trainingReceiving training from a CST (can be video training or eLearning)Receiving training from a Scrum Alliance REPReceiving coaching conducted by a CEC or CTCCategory III: Outside EventsYou can earn SEUs® by participating in other relevant events as well, other than the ones that are sponsored by Scrum Alliance. It includes Agile conferences, training from someone who is not a CST, regional meetings, or a REP course that does not fit according to the Category II.  Unlike Category II, activities in Category III include activities and services that you are receiving rather than providing.The following are a few options for Outside Events:Receiving face-to-face training outside of Scrum AllianceReceiving coaching or mentoring outside of Scrum Alliance vAttending user group events outside of Scrum AllianceAttending Scrum/Agile events outside of Scrum AllianceCategory IV: Volunteer ServiceScrum Alliance encourages you to give back to the community.  Therefore, you can earn SEUs® by providing non-compensated professional Scrum services, that is, you will be asked if you are not compensating for your volunteer work for your employer or another party.Category V: Independent LearningYou can earn SEUs® via independent learning activities such as preparing presentations, authoring relevant books, blogs or articles; watching a training video; reading books in-depth and then describing their benefits as a Scrum practitioner.The following are a few options for Independent Learning:Preparing a Scrum presentation (not delivering)Author a book, blog or articleWatch a Scrum/Agile video by an instructor other than a Scrum Alliance CSTRead a book on Scrum/AgileOther independent learningCategory VI: Other Collaborative LearningYou can earn SEUs® via various other collaborative learning activities with other Scrum practitioners. This category might not include submissions which belong to Category B or C.The following are a few options for Collaborative Learning:Co-training with the objective of learningReceiving training via live webinar which is delivered by any trainer other than a CSTOther collaborative learningWhat is the process for submitting SEUs®  for renewal? The following is the step-by-step process for SEUs® renewal:Log into your account on the Scrum Alliance page, https://www.scrumalliance.org/login.Click on the ‘My Settings’, which can be found on the upper right-hand area of your screen.Select ‘Certification Dashboard’.Under the ‘My Credentials’, go to the grey ‘Manage SEUs®’ button.Choose your SEU® category from the ‘Enter a Scrum Education Unit’  drop-down menu.Fill in all the details of all the required fields. Note: You cannot reuse an SEU® if it has been used to submit a prior renewal of certification or CSP® application.  Also, all of the SEUs® that is being used for renewal should be earned within the past two years. 
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How to earn a Scrum Education Unit® (SEU®) from ...

In the world of Agile, SEUs® stands for Scrum Edu... Read More

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