This short introduction to the MoSCoW-method is aimed on product teams and especially product owners to help you and your team prioritize better.

Why and when?

As a product owner it is my task to create a funnel of the backlog by making transparent which tasks and outcomes we should work on next. One of the steps towards this well defined path is to categorize the incoming wishes and requirements from different stakeholders like the users.

Not only in the start, also in later stages there will be phases when many new ideas and requirements hit in and you have to decide which to tackle next. Mostly you not even have the time to discuss every decision with your team or your stakeholders. For that fast-track and early steps to prioritization you can take use of the MoSCoW method, which give you a fairly easy tool to categorize and discuss prioritizations.

An additional case where I use the method is for people that aren’t involved directly in my prioritization flow and sometimes don’t understand decisions or need fast feedback where their ideas are categorized.


The idea behind MoSCoW is simple. Instead of an ordinal scale, the following self-explanatory categories are used:

Must have:

Are absolutely necessary for your product success. They are not negotiatable.

Should Have:

Should be done when every must have requirement is fulfilled.

Could Have:

Could be tackled if none of the requirements above gets negatively affected. Sometimes I find wishes from users in here, which are easy to implement and lead to great excitement. “nice to have”

Won’t Have:

Aren’t in focus in the moment, maybe in the future.

How to use the method:

This method is flexible and can be used in various ways. Depending on the people you want to be involved you can use it on your own, in a group (remotely or in presence) or also one after the other (if the time is limited and you don’t find a slot where you can work on it together).

It allows prioritization of small or bigger quantitys of requirements. For bigger lists I successfully used a table calculation program, which allowed me to easily tag every entry with one of the categories and share my table with other colleagues.


  • Easy to use (alone or in group) and fast method for prioritization
  • Prioritize together as a group in one meeting
  • (Or) Prioritize (alone) one after the other --> But take your time to discuss if there are differences
  • Easily setup collaboration boards for the method
  • Easily transform the information in other formats (like a table with tags for the categories)


If you want to read or listen further, I can suggest the german podcast “Produktwerker” with its episodes about prioritization called “Priorisieren von Anforderungen” and “Kano Modell”.