Prioritisation – Rating Importance – Agile Planning Tools – Moscow & Important/Urgent Matrix

Agile Planning – Prioritising Importance – Moscow & Urgent/Important. Plan & prioritise your work based on urgency & importance.

Here are two useful agile tools to help you to plan and prioritise your work based on its urgency and its importance.

Important/Urgent Matrix

The Important/Urgent Matrix is a great quick tool to help rate the priority of an item.

An item can be ranked into 4 categories;

important/urgent matrix

important and urgent – high priority – add to slack in current sprint if possible

urgent but not important – medium priority – add to short term backlog for next sprint, consider for slack of current sprint.

important but not urgent – medium priority – add to short or long term backlog for future review and sprint consideration.

not important, not urgent – low priority – add to long term backlog for future review and consideration

I like to use the important/urgent matrix for considering new tasks, especially ad-hoc unexpected ones to quickly decide if they should be immediately acted upon or if they should be parked for later.

On the Being Agile Canvas the Inbox uses the Important/Urgent Matrix to help decide if new task should be parked in the backlog of work for future review and consideration, or prioritised into the current sprints ‘slack’ time which has been planned for as part of sprint planning to accommodate ad-hoc unplanned tasks received during the sprint which need to be urgently actioned.

agile planning canvas


Watch this video about MoSCoW

Video link

Agile prioritisation – MoSCoW tool

MoSCoW is an easily remembered acronym to help us rank the importance of an activity or item

Moscow - agile planning tool

Must – must have, essential item

Should – should have, necessary item

Could – could have, optional item

Would – would like to have – desirable item

You can also interchange the W for WONT, Wont do – this is helpful for process of elimination when selecting work for the sprint, reducing the choice by removing those items that will not be completed in the next sprint.

Priorities can change and tasks can be time dependant so its important to regularly review our MoSCoW rankings for items during sprint retrospectives and planning.

MoSCoW is a useful easy to remember tool you can use every-day to help your decision making. A good MoSCoW balance would be to have a little bit of each, but of course sometimes we need to prioritise and don’t have time for everything.

We can use MoSCoW to help us identify what a Minimum Viable Solution may look like. By breaking down the solution and ranking these we can select which items are needed to create an initial working solution that we can then develop and improve.

Using MoSCoW can be useful when reviewing to check we are not focusing solely on our Must Do’s but also ensuring we pick up Should’s, Could’s and Would’s as these may help deliver better quality, innovative value, and develop new opportunities.

Our Could’s and Would’s may be our Unique Selling Point (USP) for our product or service, it maybe a game changer for us.

Try it!
Think of things you would like to do today and categorise them using MoSCoW.

  • What Must you do?
  • What Should you do?
  • What Could you do?
  • What Would you like to do?

Double check your ranking, is it really a Must do essential item?

How could you structure your day to include a could or would like to do activity? Something small and actionable you could do today to help move this item forward a small step.

If you find your sprints are filled with only Must Do, Urgent, Important items then you are likely overloaded. Your Should’s, Could’s and Would’s may sit in the backlog and never get selected for the next sprint – our boards help us to become more aware and conscious of this.

Use these tools to identify ways you can streamline, increase capacity or capability, small actionable changes and improvements you could make to help improve your mix of work.

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