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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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Who Is a CSPO? - Roles and Responsibilities

1.1 What is a Product Owner?A Product Owner is a role defined in Scrum. Scrum is a framework for complex product development (*). The Product Owner is responsible for maximising the value of the product resulting from the work performed the Development Team. The role exists in Scrum to have 1 person with a clear accountability of WHAT product or service will be built. The Product Owner role is also used as a title outside Scrum, in other frameworks, but if you want to understand the definition of the role and responsibilities of a Product Owner, you need to start to look and to understand it in the scope of a Scrum Team. (*) (“product”, to be defined in context, this is a generic term for the product or service being developed for the end-users)(*) (“development”, also to be defined in context, this is a generic term for all activities needed to create and deliver value to the end-users)1.2 What’s the job profile of a Product Owner?The Product Owner role is Scrum is a role, both with a tactical, strategical and operational aspect. The Product Owner role is critical as the role is kept by 1 person (and 1 person only) for a specific product. Having 1 person holding the role simplifies the accountability in terms of having 1 spokesperson for product ownership and accountability of maximising value. This doesn’t mean that all activities are to be done by the Product Owner; otherwise the Product Owner could become a bottleneck. The Product Owner does remain accountable at all times. To be able to do the job, the Product Owner has business (domain) knowledge, affinity with end-users, affinity with “development” (activities needed to deliver a piece of value), and knowledge of how to do agile product management. Product management is a multi-disciplinary job, and it involves to understand, empathise, quickly inspect & adapt, each time with the accountability to make the right choices in terms of what to built next, in order to continuously (incrementally) deliver value to end-users. In order to better understand what kind of profile is needed to fulfil the product owner role, it’s valuable to list skills required and activities performed.When looking for a Product Owner, you’re looking for a profile with generic product management skills and product-specific skills.  The generic skills are needed to be able make decisions on a strategic and tactical level.People skills a Product Owner must have:A Product Owner also needs people skills:To empathise with users of the productTo build connections with stakeholders and to create a healthy working relationship with the team building the product. These people skills include- to be able to listen (to stakeholders, end users, team members), to translate information (between people with a different background), to be able to make  informed decisions without undermining longer-term objectives, etc.The product-specific skills are defined by the product or service that’s being built. This includes all the activities to understand the market, the needs, the job the product or service will fulfil, user-journeys, also more technical product-specific knowledge, legislation (if applicable), financial implications and any other constraintIn his book Product Mastery “From Good to Great Product Ownership”, Geoff Watts describes the skills of Product Owners with the acronym “1.3 Product Owner role and responsibilitiesThe role of Product Owner can be quite challenging and high-demanding. When reading The Scrum Guide, it says that product backlog management is the main activity for a Product Owner. The product backlog is a tool to ensure it’s clear what’s needed in the product and what’s the most valuable thing to build next. Managing a backlog, and refining items on the product backlog is a continuous activity.  The Product Owner often serves as the spokesperson of the product. 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Who Is a CSPO? - Roles and Responsibilities

1.1 What is a Product Owner?A Product Owner is a r... Read More

All you need to know about Certified Scrum Product Owner

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Not only Business Analysts, but the Product Owner writes the product backlog as well. Irrespective of who is writing the Product backlog, it is only the Product Owner who is responsible for the product backlog, backlog prioritization, and making sure that the PO delivers the quality products satisfying the customers’ needs.Addressing questions: Product Owner is responsible for answering the questions if the team has any queries related to a user story.For example- Why is this task on high priority? Why are we doing this user story? The Product Owner (PO) can also delegate the questions to someone else but he/she should make sure all the team queries are addressed.Providing boundaries: Vision and boundaries are competing aspects of the project. The vision shows what a product can be. The boundaries describe realities within which the vision must be realized. Boundaries are provided by the Product Owner and often comes in the form of constraints as:It needs to be completed by JulyIt can use only half the memory of the current versionReduce the per unit cost but with the same functionalityRuns at twice the speedThe role is all about giving enough scope to the team so that they feel motivated to solve difficult problems while working on a project. But one should refrain from providing the team with so many boundaries that it becomes impossible to solve the project problems.If this role appeals to you and you like to work as a Product Owner, then you can go for CSPO certification. Here is everything about the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) that you need to know:What is a Certified Scrum Product Owner® ?CSPO®- Certified Scrum Product Owner®The Certified Scrum Product Owner® Certification from Scrum Alliance is a validation of your commitment to ongoing excellence in your Agile journey and makes you eligible to take on Product Owner responsibilities and lead successful projects. The Product Owner is a key member of the Scrum Team and holds the responsibility of leading the project strategically, collaborating with the customers and team on a daily basis, and managing the business value.Accreditation Body for CSPO®-Scrum AllianceTwo-day Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) training classes are delivered by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers® (CSTs®), which combines classroom study, group discussions, and hands-on practice exercises. The program will provide you with a deep understanding of Scrum from the perspective of a Product Owner, enabling you to be an effective customer to the Scrum team and at the same time maximizing ROI.Key Takeaways of the courseEnhance your skills as a Product OwnerLead Agile teams and motivate your team membersFacilitate smooth communication channel between the Stakeholders and the Scrum teamIncrease Scrum functionalityCreate practical and efficient plans and schedulesReduce risk by pre-planningImprove ROIEnsure maximum delivery.“Defining the boundaries is a debatable topic but it is important to be done by a Product Owner for the success of the product.”Is CSPO® = Future?As the popularity of SCRUM is increasing, there is a high demand in the market for professionals with the Scrum Experience. According to Glassdoor salary website, the salary of the Certified Product Owner ranges from $2,110 - $20,090 per year making an average of $114,130 annually.   CSPO® certification is advisable for individuals who are already in project or product management and now wish to adapt to the new methodology under Scrum. This is for the aspirants who want career growth in project management area with Scrum experience. CSPO® certification is very helpful in gaining the following:You can globally increase your career opportunities across all industry sectorsIt eases you to prove your achievement of core Scrum knowledgeYou will learn the basics of Scrum and the scope of the Product Owner roleEngage with Agile practitioners committed to continuous improvementAccess to local groups, networks, and resources available only to Scrum Alliance members.Who can be CSPO®?Following is the target audience who can take up CSPO® Certification:Project ManagersDevelopersProduct OwnersManagers-Software developmentArchitects-Software developmentProduct ManagersSoftware developersSoftware codersSoftware testersTeam Leads or Team Members who are interested in learning more about Scrum and leading Agile projects.Prerequisites to become a CSPO®The first step needed to become a CSPO®  is to get familiar with the Scrum framework. Then,  attend an in-person two-day (16 hour) CSPO® training course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®) to become eligible for the CSPO® certification.Step-by-Step Process to becoming a CSPO®Step 1: Attend an in-person 2-day CSPO® training taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).Step 2: After successfully completing the course, you will be asked to accept the CSPO® License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance® membership profile.Step 3: Login to your Scrum Alliance® account and fill the details.Step 4: Congratulations! You are now CSPO® certified and your certificate is valid for two years.Step 5: Download your CSPO® certificate from Scrum Alliance®.Step 6: Certification renewal process: You can maintain your CSPO® certification by earning Scrum Education Units® (SEUs) and renewing your certification every two years. For more details on CSPO certification renewal process, check the Scrum Alliance® website.Benefits of CSPO® CertificationThe benefits of CSPO certification are so many. Mentioned below are the benefits explained with the statistics of different countries.Most Popular Job for Employees with a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO®) CertificationThough many certifications of SCRUM are getting popular nowadays. CSM® and CSPO® are one of them. The popular designation with Scrum certifications for India, US, and UK are mentioned below.CountryDesignationIndiaProduct Owner, Product Manager, Business Analyst, Senior Product Manager, Project Manager, Senior Business Analyst, Lead Business Analyst.USProduct Owner, Product Manager, CSM, Senior Product Manager, Project Manager, Senior Business Analyst, Software Development Manager, Agile CoachUKProduct Owner, Senior Product Manager, Senior Business Analyst, CSM, Product Manager, Software Development Manager, Senior Product ManagerCSPO® salary by countryThe survey conducted by the Payscale regarding the salary range of Product Owner in different countries is as given in the table below.CountryAverage PayRangeIndia (Rs)1,424,014708,139-2,670,022US ($)83K58K-117KUK (€)40K28K-64KCSPO® salary by experienceYearsIndia RsUS $UK €Less than 1 year-61K36K1-4 years887,23378K38K5-9 years1,195,642100K51K10-19 years2,014,207116K61K>20 years3,000,000127K75KMost popular Employers Name who prefer CSPO® certification.IndiaUSUKOracleAmazonTescoGE General ElectricFidelityPearsonHoneywellIBMCEBDellCapital One financial corpExperianAccentureNikeRegisters of ScotlandEY Ernst & YoungGECambridge University PressWhat next after CSPO® certification?The career path of a Scrum Product Owner® can vary according to the interests of an individual. It could be higher in a Product Management role.So, Are you ready to become a CSPO®?On a Scrum team, individuals are asked to look beyond their explicit role to find ways to help the team accomplish its goals.Product Owner is a very special role in SCRUM and can stand out as the CEO of the product. Certification CSPO® will be an added advantage if somebody is planning to seek this role. The Scrum Product Owner plays a key role in the Scrum team and leads the project strategically, collaborating with the users and team regularly to manage the business value.
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All you need to know about Certified Scrum Product...

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Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

There is an exponential increase in the demand for Agile Coaches in the market. But at the same time, there is a lot of confusion regarding the differences and commonalities between an Agile Coach and Scrum Master. When the teams are already being coached by Scrum Masters, what is the need for an Agile Coach?It is really important to understand that there are many similarities between the two roles. Both Agile Coach and Scrum Masters are responsible to help develop an Agile mindset in their organisations. Even the techniques that they use to support and facilitate their teams are very similar. The difference lies in their scope.In this article, we are going to discuss the key differences between and see how a Scrum Master and Agile Coach complement each other and play important roles.Agile Coach vs. Scrum MasterScrum MasterAgile CoachFocus AreasWorks with one Scrum teamApply the basic Scrum practicesWorks with multiple Agile teamsDefines what has to be done, how, who does it, etc.KnowledgebaseScrum practicesScrum and other frameworks like Kanban, Scaling Methods, etc.ExperienceLess than 5 years in ScrumGreater than 5 years in multiple frameworksSalary$115,766$149,867Now, let us take a deeper and clearer look at the differences between the two roles.The Scrum MasterAs a facilitator of an agile development team, a Scrum Master is responsible for managing the process of how information flows. The Scrum Master is like a leader for his Scrum team and focuses on a single team or at the most, a couple of teams. He is up-to-date with everything that is taking place inside the workplace, and knows the whole team inside out.The Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum MasterMake sure the team is well trained and is working in accordance with the Scrum framework and Agile practices.Impediment solving, that is, anticipate, identify, track, and remove any impediments that the Scrum team faces or might face.Manage and drive the Agile process, that is, scope and timeline of the entire project.The Agile CoachThe Agile Coach is expected to have a deep understanding of multiple Agile methodologies which are beyond the Scrum Framework.The main focus of an Agile Coach is not to support individual team members but rather implement an Agile working method in an organisation. Unlike Scrum Master, an Agile Coach is not a part of a specific Scrum team. The role of being an Agile Coach is independent and has the responsibility to coach various teams or management.An Agile Coach works directly with teams or works via a team’s management. Moreover, they work with Scrum Masters and managers to help increase a team’s agility.The Roles and Responsibilities of an Agile CoachOffer new tools and techniques to promote a healthy group dynamic.Make sure that teams work together effectively. For example, implementation of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) that requires active coordination at a team and enterprise level.Make the individual employees as well as the various teams aware of their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a collective Agile mindset.In summaryThe roles of an Agile Coach and Scrum Master are used interchangeably, which is counted as a risky move. Though the roles of Agile Coach and Scrum Master have a lot in common, there are a lot of differences as well. Agile Coaches deal with the process and not the content, and are most in-demand when an organization is transitioning to Agile.You can gain distinct benefits out of both roles, all you need to know is how to leverage their skillsets and make the most out of the same to reap the benefits of Agile adoption.
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Differences Between Agile Coach and Scrum Master

There is an exponential increase in the demand for... Read More

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