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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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Here we shall look at the learning roadmap of different ICAgile courses.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Testing (ICE-AT)Agile Testing- IntroductoryThis certification aims at Agile testers or aspiring Agile testers who wish to learn and practice Agile testing techniques. Even Test Managers, Testers, Developers, and Analysts with a passion for testing will benefit from this course.Agile Test Automation- AdvancedThis certification aims at Test engineers, Agile testers, or aspiring Agile testers with a desire to learn and practice Agile test automation. Test Managers and developers with a passion for learning automation skills will also benefit from this course.ICAgile Certified Expert Agile Testing- Expert/ProfessionalTo acquire the ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Testing (ICE-AT), an applicant must show competency in the discipline of test automation and Agile testing to a review committee of three industry-recognized experts. The applicant will be assessed through an interactive virtual session with the review committee.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC)Agile Team Facilitation- IntroductoryThis certification is designed for Agile team leaders or aspiring team leaders who are passionate about servant leadership and have a desire to learn and practice the art of facilitation as part of coaching and team facilitation.Agile Coaching- AdvancedThis certification is designed for Agile coaches or aspiring coaches who are passionate about servant leadership and have a desire to learn and practice coaching, teaching, facilitation and mentoring in service of Agile teams.ICAgile Certified Expert In Agile Coaching- Expert/ProfessionalTo acquire the ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC), an applicant must show competency in the discipline of Agile coaching to a review committee of three industry-recognized experts. The applicant will be assessed through an interactive virtual session with the review committee.Roadmap to ICAgile Certified Expert In DevOps (ICE-DO)Foundation of DevOpsDevelopers, Operations leads and team members, Agile Coaches, Managers, or anyone with a passion for DevOps will benefit from this certification.Implementing DevOpsDevelopers, Operations leads/team members, testers, security leads/team members, technical coaches, and technical leads, or anyone interested in the hands-on implementation of DevOps will benefit from this certification.ICAgile Certified Expert In DevOpsThe ICE-DO certification is still in development. So, it is recommended to obtain the above two certifications first before preparing for this certification.Winding UpDeciding to start a career in an Agile environment in the IT industry is an exceptionally good choice. Getting an Agile certification can help you get started and get ahead in your career. Remember, certifications show your ability to your managers, co-workers and future employers. Getting certified is a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers.Choose wisely! And all the best on your certification learning path!!
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Top 5 Agile Trends To Take You Safe Through 2018 And Beyond

In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.More and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment.  1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:Organizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.2) Rapid Feedback:Predictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.3. Embracing Agile Spirit:  Over the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. Organizations are conducting short-period objective oriented trainings to strengthen the Agile mindset of team members.The application of modern Agile principles leads the organizations to deliver more values with satisfactory profit. There are four core characteristics of Agile mindset - value matters, small cycles matters, ecosystem in entire organization matters and culture matters. Agile Spirit embracement can be improved by following the five simple tactics- be transparent, be disciplined, ensure participation, get everyone aligned and set up collaboration as an Agile tool.  4) Cloud-Based Solutions:More Agile teams are adopting cloud-based solutions to find new ways for envision (prediction), coding, testing and deployment faster than they are/were doing now with the intention to have an edge over their competitors. Server-less computing has become the favorite of Agile teams; as, it reduces the need of ‘always on’ traditional server infrastructure, in addition to reducing the infrastructure and operational costing. The organizations that follow cloud-based Agile methodology have enormous competitive advantages supporting for higher quality, greater agility, faster market responsiveness, reducing costing, improving client’s experience etc. It can be said that Cloud technology is going to be an Agile accelerator.5) More Focus on ‘Business Value’ of User Stories:“If you can’t measure the results, you can’t improve the process” fine fits to modern Agile culture. Today, Agile organizations are more focused on measuring the lagging indicators like ROI of new products/ features, Net Promoter Score (NPS) of team members & customers, cycle time and operational stability etc. Using three-dimensional metrics, encompassing complexity, ROI and business value, is the new approach to measure the business value of a user story. Identifying business values before writing a user story rather than writing a user story and then evaluating the business values is a significant shift in modern Agile practice.Summary:Agile culture adoption is growing fast in organizations around the world. Internal Agile coaches, consistent Agile practices, and implementation of a common tool across Agile teams are the top three factors encouraging businesses to continue their Agile journey. According to ‘12th annual State of Agile report’, the top five Agile benefits reported by the organizations are –Better project visibility – through- rapid feedbackFaster delivery – through – cloud-based solutionEnhanced productivity – through – activities oriented learning workshopsImproved ability to manage the changing priorities – through – deep focus on business value of a user storyBetter IT alignment – through – Agile spirit embracementKnowledgeHut provides objective-oriented customized Agile training that helps the organizations match the steps with the latest trends in Agile methodology.
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