24 days ago - Technology and Innovation

Prioritizing Product Development: The Importance of MOSCOW for Entrepreneurs and Startups

By Rodrigo Coronel

Prioritizing Product Development: The Importance of MOSCOW for Entrepreneurs and Startups

There are several methodologies for product development prioritization. In our company we have chosen the MOSCOW methodology, which we use both in customer projects and in our internal innovation laboratory. This methodology brings simplicity and great value to the strategic vision of the business. In one of the lab projects, we participated in an Artificial Intelligence hackathon, where we used this methodology to develop the basic features of our algorithm. This algorithm used the ChatGPT API to improve and generate existing texts in websites and other internal documents, for use in blogs or new websites.

To ensure a consistent product, we performed a basic test by migrating around 1000 blog articles, running them through our AI engine to correct grammar and incorporate brand-specific terms. This resulted in text that was more readable and appealed to the client's audience. Our algorithm met the stated objectives and, through iterations, we created a replicable product. This was used in one project and added fundamental value by rewriting content, leaving it ready for expert review for publication on the new website. In addition, we tested additional features such as SEO and SEM, and the extraction and creation of content in HTML and WordPress tags for import into the new blog.

The MOSCOW methodology was key to define the main features of the product, ensuring the acceptance criteria by customers or internal stakeholders. It is important to remember that this methodology, beyond prioritization, helps to correctly define the scope, resources and time, as well as the acceptance criteria for each feature, function or component of the solution we are creating.

The importance of managing expectations

It is crucial for both the product manager and the development and technology areas to clearly explain the expectations of the final product to be delivered. To do this, we use various methodologies, including those such as "paper mockups", which allow the customer to visualize and understand what they will get. Expectations vary according to the knowledge of each one, therefore, it is essential to establish a common base of knowledge and, from there, to reach an agreement on the product and its features.

Don't Overpromise, Better Overdeliver

A colleague once told me: "Don't overpromise, better overdeliver". This phrase is key to managing expectations. It is critical to commit only to what you can produce and deliver to the customer or stakeholder, and if possible, overdeliver, but never overpromise what you can deliver with the team, resources and time available.

In the digital age, entrepreneurs and startups face the challenge of developing products that meet market needs without overloading themselves with too many ideas. The MOSCOW (Must-Should-Could-Won't) methodology is a valuable tool for prioritizing product development and maximizing market impact.

What is MOSCOW?

MOSCOW is an acronym that refers to a hierarchy for prioritizing product features or functionality. The word has no relation to the city of Moscow. The acronym is divided into four categories:

  1. Must: Essential features that the product must have.

  2. Should: Desirable but not essential features.

  3. Could: Features that are beneficial but not critical to the success of the product.

  4. Won't: Features that will not be implemented or do not make sense.

The "o's" are to make the acronym pronounceable, common in startup jargon.

The Importance of Prioritizing

Prioritization is critical for any entrepreneur or startup. Some key benefits of using MOSCOW include:

  • Encourages informed decision making: helps identify the most important features and those that can be discarded.

  • Reduces stress and overload: Allows you to focus on what is really important.

  • Increases efficiency: Maximizes market impact and reduces the time and resources needed to develop a product.

It is important to mention that this methodology does not provide information on dependencies and valuation of the scope of the features, so other techniques and methodologies should be used for a correct definition of the product.

In my research, I did not find a consistent benchmark on the most used methodology, so I conducted a survey on LinkedIn that yielded the following results:

Origin of MOSCOW

The MoSCoW (Must-Should-Could-Won't) methodology was first developed by Dai Clegg of Oracle® in the UK in the mid-1990s. Clegg, D. and Barker, R. (1994). CASE Method Fast-Track: A RAD Approach,' Amsterdam: Addison-Wesley, 1994. Copyright © Pearson Education Limited.

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rodrigo coronel

Rodrigo Coronel

With a career spanning over 21 years, I have assumed diverse roles as finance executive, sales manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master and PM, specializing in IT/Business transformation. I have led teams locally and globally, incorporating methodologies such as Lean, Design Thinking, Agile, waterfall, and exploring emerging technologies in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, LLM, web3 and the metaverse.

As CFO at RoloStudios LLC, I drove transformational changes in finance, collaborated on strategic initiatives and optimized processes. Simultaneously, I contributed to academia as a Fintech Docent, sharing knowledge on blockchain and AI. My academic background in Management and Finance, along with certifications in Project Management, Agile Scrum and Blockchain, highlight my commitment to continuous learning.

Currently based in Cordoba, Argentina, I work remotely, balancing a full personal life as a husband and father of five children alongside my professional projects.

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