Product Prioritization Techniques (I)

As an Agile Coaches / Scrum Masters one of our main tasks is to support Product Owners/Managers in the tough task to set the priorities within the product or within the products portfolio.

There are a lot of techniques which help us in this journey. Here you may see a wide summary of different techniques:

Today, I’m going to speak of two first techniques: MOSCOW and Kano.


MoSCoW is a prioritisation technique for helping to understand and manage priorities. The letters stand for:

  • Must Have.
  • Should Have.
  • Could Have.
  • Won’t Have this time.
  • MUST HAVE. No point in delivering on target date without this; if it were not delivered, there would be no point deploying the solution on the intended date. Not legal without it. Unsafe without it. Cannot deliver a viable solution without it.
  • SHOULD HAVE. Important but not vital. May be painful to leave out, but the solution is still viable. May need some kind of workaround, e.g. management of expectations, some inefficiency, an existing solution, paperwork etc. The workaround may be just a temporary one.
  • COULD HAVE. Wanted or desirable but less important. Less impact if left out (compared with a Should Have).
  • WON’T HAVE THIS TIME. These are requirements which the project team has agreed will not be delivered (as part of this timeframe).

It’s the same as set priorities from 1 to 4, but having in mind the MUST, SHOULD, COULD and WON’T is very easy to start for example guessing some priorities in a a huge list.


The Kano model is a theory for product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 1980s by Professor Noriaki Kano, which classifies customer preferences into five categories.

The Kano Model of Customer (Consumer) Satisfaction classifies product attributes based on how they are perceived by customers and their effect on customer satisfaction. These classifications are useful for guiding design decisions in that they indicate when good is good enough, and when more is better.
Project activities in which the Kano Model is useful:

  • Identifying customer needs.
  • Determining functional requirements.
  • Concept development.
  • Analyzing competitive products.
  • Eliciting Customer Input.
  • Prioritisation Matrices.
  • Quality Function Deployment.
  • Value Analysis.

The Kano Model of Customer satisfaction divides product attributes into three categories: threshold, performance, and excitement. A competitive product meets basic attributes, maximises performances attributes, and includes as many “excitement” attributes as possible at a cost the market can bear.

Threshold Attributes
Threshold (or basic) attributes are the expected attributes or “musts” of a product, and do not provide an opportunity for product differentiation. Increasing the performance of these attributes provides diminishing returns in terms of customer satisfaction, however the absence or poor performance of these attributes results in extreme customer dissatisfaction. Threshold attributes are not typically captured in QFDs (Quality Function Deployment) or other evaluation tools as products are not rated on the degree to which a threshold attribute is met, the attribute is either satisfied or not.

Performance Attributes
Performance attributes are those for which more is generally better, and will improve customer satisfaction. Conversely, an absent or weak performance attribute reduces customer satisfaction. Of the needs customers verbalise, most will fall into the category of performance attributes. These attributes will form the weighted needs against which product concepts will be evaluated. The price for which customer is willing to pay for a product is closely tied to performance attributes. For example, customers would be willing to pay more for a car that provides them with better fuel economy.

Excitement Attributes
Excitement attributes are unspoken and unexpected by customers but can result in high levels of customer satisfaction, however their absence does not lead to dissatisfaction. Excitement attributes often satisfy latent needs — real needs of which customers are currently unaware. In a competitive marketplace where manufacturers’ products provide similar performance, providing excitement attributes that address “unknown needs” can provide a competitive advantage. Although they have followed the typical evolution to a performance then a threshold attribute, cup holders were initially excitement attributes.

Application of the Kano Model Analysis
A relatively simple approach to applying the Kano Model Analysis is to ask customers two simple questions for each attribute:

1. Rate your satisfaction if the product has this attribute?
2. Rate your satisfaction if the product did not have this attribute?

Customers should be asked to answer with one of the following responses:
A) Satisfied.
B) Neutral (Its normally that way).
C) Dissatisfied.
D) Don’t care.

Empirical measurement

Example & Evaluation


  • How would you feel if the product had …?
  • How would you feel if there was more of …?


  • How would you feel if the product did not have …?
  • How would you feel if there was less of …?

Based on the combination of answers by one participant for the functional and dysfunctional questions, one can infer the feature category.

Functional +Dysfunctional -> Category

I expect it + I dislike it → Must-be

I like it + I dislike it → One-dimensional

I like it + I am neutral → Attractive

I am neutral + I am neutral → Indifferent

I dislike it + I expect it → Reverse