MoSCoW a Scope Organiser

Many years ago someone introduced me to a handy scope organiser – The acronym ‘MoSCoW’ and then some time later I was pleased to see it in DSDM and now it appears in the PRINCE2® manual.

Use Requires Understanding of the Insight – Not Glib Repetition

BUT the key thing is to know how to use it and that seems to be missing in most repetitions – they just say what the words are not what the insight is.

Contingency & Float

Mostly I find folk understand the idea of contingency – an amount of extra money and or resource and or time to cope when progress is not to plan. Mostly I find people have NOT thought through the implications enough to have a practical modus operandi. For example money probably means paying additional labour charges, but are the people there with work-hours to allocate? Adding contingent time means rescheduling following work or increasing the work conducted in parallel. All discussions that I’ll post separately.

Contingency is a pre-authorised allocation whose release is triggered by a defined situation. EG “If it rains I’ll put my umbrella up” – The event and the response are pre-defined.

Float is the time between tasks that does not affect delivery date of a result. Within any project there are tasks that are ahead of schedule and those that are behind. Of these they may be on or off the Critical Path (be using or adding to float, be extending or shortening the critical path).


Where the MoSCoW tool comes in is in giving us a way to discuss “Scope Contingency” alongside cost & schedule contingency.

The words that expand the acronym are “Must of”, “Should of”, “Could of”, Won’t”

  • M is in the baseline come hell or high water – the deal makers & breakers
  • S is in the baseline as initially established but gets sacrificed when things get tough and economy is required
  • C is outside the baseline but gets added when capability is available – often because one team is waiting for another to cope so two teams are simultaneously dropping Ss and adding Cs


  • W is out of scope whatever happens

I hope these thoughts help you better understand how to add scope contingency to your arsenal of project management tools, tips and techniques


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