Prioritizing a Product Backlog with MoSCoW is very easy. This prioritization method is widely used by Scrum teams (or in an Agile organization on the SAFe scale).
In Scrum and SAFe, the main role of the
is to build, maintain and prioritize the Product Backlog. As you’ll see in this article, this method is quick and easy for Product Owners to implement.
The Product Owner always relies on the Scrum Master to ensure that this method is properly applied and understood by all Scrum Team members.
The MoSCoW Method is based on the criticality of the elements in the Product Backlog. So, the more critical a feature is (vital to the product’s survival), the more it will be highlighted in the Backlog with a higher priority.
Task prioritization using the MoSCoW method consists of 4 levels of criticality:
Why prioritize tasks with MoSCoW?
This method is used to prioritize an Agile Product Backlog. It is used to prioritize all backlog elements, i.e.:
- Features (Epopées SAFe, for example)
- User Stories
- Continuous improvement actions
- Use cases
The advantages of this prioritization method :
The downside: Pitfalls to avoid!
The Scrum Master must ensure that his teams do not fall into these traps:
How can you put MoSCoW into practice in your Scrum team?
If you use Excel to list, organize, prioritize and present your Agile Product Backlog, I offer this Excel file as a free download.
This will enable you to adopt this method right away!
Agile MoSCoW prioritization on Excel
In this file, you'll find a template for quickly prioritizing your product backlog in Excel using this method.
Prioritizing a Jira or Trello backlog with MoSCoW
In fact, there are many prioritization fields on these two Athlasian tools. If you can’t find these fields, ask your Jira admin to activate them on your instance.
Using MoSCoW in a phyic array
For your physical visual management charts, use a color code to materialize MUST, SHOULD, COULD and WON’T subjects! Either different Post-It colors, or different-colored arrows for each priority level.
We end this article with our usual reading tips:
Our article on prioritization with the WSJF
which will give you a more precise prioritization based on business value and development workload.
- A full article on MoSCoW prioritization on the AgileBusiness website.
- Our article on the RICE prioritization method.
- Last but not least, Claude Aubry’s long-awaited book on the Scrum methodology: Scrum – 6th ed. – A user-friendly tool for radical agility.