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What is a MoSCow Prioritization Model?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

The MoSCow Prioritization Model is a popular technique used in product management to prioritize features and requirements based on their importance. It helps product managers and teams make informed decisions about what should be included in a product or project, considering the must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves. The term "MoSCow" is an acronym derived from the first letters of the four priority categories.

Importance of MoSCow Prioritization Model

The MoSCow Prioritization Model is essential because it allows product managers to focus on the most critical features and requirements. By categorizing items into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves, it helps in ensuring that the most important functionalities are delivered to meet the users' needs and business goals. It provides a clear framework for decision-making and resource allocation, enabling teams to work efficiently and effectively.

How to Use the MoSCow Prioritization Model

  1. Must-haves: These are the non-negotiable features or requirements that are essential for the product's functionality and success. They are the core elements that cannot be compromised. Examples could be basic login functionality in a mobile app or a payment gateway in an e-commerce website.

  2. Should-haves: These are important features that should be included if resources permit. They contribute significantly to the product's value but are not critical for its basic functionality. Examples could be a user-friendly interface, enhanced search capabilities, or social media integration.

  3. Could-haves: These are nice-to-have features that are desirable but not essential for the product's core functionality. They can be considered if time and resources are available after addressing must-haves and should-haves. Examples could be additional customization options, advanced reporting features, or integrations with third-party services.

  4. Won't-haves: These are features or requirements that are explicitly excluded from the current scope. They are typically postponed to future releases or completely disregarded based on various factors such as budget limitations, time constraints, or low priority. Examples could be complex features that require extensive development efforts or functionalities that are not aligned with the product's overall strategy.

Useful Tips for MoSCow Prioritization Model

  • Involve key stakeholders, such as customers, users, and team members, to gather input and ensure a comprehensive understanding of requirements and priorities.
  • Continuously review and update priorities as the project progresses, considering changing market conditions, user feedback, and business goals.
  • Use clear and concise descriptions for each prioritization category to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation.
  • Regularly communicate the prioritization decisions and rationale to the team and stakeholders to ensure alignment and understanding.
  • Prioritize based on value and impact, considering factors like user needs, business objectives, technical feasibility, and market demands.


The MoSCoW Prioritization Model is a technique used in product management to prioritize the requirements or features of a product based on their importance.
MoSCoW is an acronym that stands for Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have.
The MoSCoW Prioritization Model categorizes requirements or features into four priority levels: Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have. This helps in making decisions about what needs to be included in a product.
'Must have' requirements or features are the ones that are absolutely necessary for the product to function properly. These are the highest priority items.
'Should have' requirements or features are important but not critical for the product. They can be deferred if necessary, but it is preferred to include them.
'Could have' requirements or features are desirable but not essential for the product. These can be included if there is enough time and resources.
'Won't have' requirements or features are explicitly decided to be excluded from the product. These are low priority items that are not considered for implementation.
The MoSCoW Prioritization Model can be used by product managers, development teams, and stakeholders involved in the product management process to prioritize and make informed decisions.
Using the MoSCoW Prioritization Model helps in clarifying priorities, focusing on essential features, managing scope, and making trade-off decisions effectively.
Yes, the MoSCoW Prioritization Model does not provide a precise measurement of priority or effort. It is a subjective technique that relies on the judgment of stakeholders.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Importance of MoSCow Prioritization Model
  2. How to Use the MoSCow Prioritization Model
  3. Useful Tips for MoSCow Prioritization Model
  4. Related Terms

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