5 prioritization techniques for IT teams

Is it always easy to prioritize the tasks of a large project? And if five urgent tasks are in priority? Ten?

Experienced project managers and product owners know that intuition is not enough. In order not to let the team down and meet the deadlines, today managers come to the aid of useful methodologies for determining priorities, as well as modern tools that help visualize data and not miss anything in their work processes.

Consider in more detail 5 well-known methodologies that help to achieve success.

Is there an ideal methodology that will once and for all prioritize work tasks and personal affairs? Each project manager or product manager for this question, for sure, has his own answer. However, there are prioritization methods that have established themselves around the world, and their authors have earned well-deserved respect among project managers and top managers. Here are 5 such methodologies: three general and two for internal organizational purposes.

5 prioritization methods for project managers and IT teams

MoSCoW method for categorizing tasks

MoSCoW methodology is now known all over the world and is widely used in various fields of management. The technology does not connect anything with the famous capital.
The consonants in the acronym MSCW are degrees of priority:

  • M - tasks and requirements that have the highest priority and should be primarily applied to the product in the first place. Without them, the release will not be completed (this is a must).
  • S - important requirements, but not with the highest priority. Usually they are not critical, but they are still binding (this should).
  • C - requirements and tasks desired for release (this could).
  • W - the least critical requirements, they can be ignored or transferred to the next releases (this would).

Using the example of the tasks of the management platform Hygger.io (implemented or only planned), we will consider how to determine priorities according to the MoSCoW methodology:

  • Must Have - implement Priority Chart - a chart where you can select the most valuable ideas and submit them to development, rank ideas according to Value / Efforts metrics, provide development support using Kanban and Sprint boards, add a Burndown Chart to track sprint progress.
  • Should Have - implement the function Time tracking to track hours worked, Cycle / Lead Time Report to control the process, make integration with Slack to receive updates on the boards.
  • Could have - add a section My Tasks, where you can see all the tasks in different statuses, implement Client Access to invite clients to the project.
  • Would Have - provide SAML SSO / G Suite SSO for single sign-on of employees to the application, add Calendar View for the whiteboard, add integration with project management systems (JIRA, PivotalTracker, Trello, etc.)

The method offers a quick and easy solution for prioritizing. Often, however, such categorization may not be enough. Therefore, it is believed that MoSCoW is better suited for internal projects, and not for products with a large number of customers.

Kano Model

Kano model is a technology developed by Japanese Noriaki Kano in 1984. It was then that he published an article in which he painted the methodology.

Using the Kano model, you can clearly describe the satisfaction of what needs leaves consumers unsatisfied or enthralled.
Kano offers a coordinate system where satisfaction is measured along the y-axis and fulfillment is measured along the x-axis. The Kano model identifies 3 main components of the quality profile that affect customer satisfaction: expected, basic, and attractive, admirable.

Expected Properties Kano - these are the basic properties of a product or service. They are by default. The buyer is unlikely to think about these properties, because he takes them for granted.

Often, airline operations are cited as an example of expected properties. A guarantee that everyone has enough space in the cabin is an expected property.

The expected feature of the Hygger product management platform may be the ability to plan tasks for an individual project. Almost always turning the expected property into a competitive advantage is a difficult task, but its absence will not lead to anything good.

Basic properties - this is desired. Their implementation directly affects customer satisfaction. It is on the basic properties that the products try to stand out and create a competitive advantage.

In the example of airlines, the main property may be the absence of transfers on a long route.

Admirable properties are properties that are unexpected for the consumer: additional, unusual, surprise-like.

Your favorite dessert on board an airline is an example of such a property.

The level of fulfillment of such properties does not directly affect customer satisfaction (as is the case with the main properties). If an unexpected property is missing, the consumer should not be upset, because he did not expect it in the series of expected properties. But if the consumer is pleasantly impressed, this will bring pleasant bonuses to the product or service, at least the inner circle of the happy consumer will know about them.

Over time, customer requirements may change, and what today delighted, tomorrow may become the standard, and the day after tomorrow it will become a prerequisite for quality.
A great example of the application of the Kano method is described in the article about a television point where the author decided to share a lot of intricate remote control buttons by priority using the Kano principle.

Story Mapping Technique

The Story Mapping methodology became known at the beginning of the century from an article by Jeff Patton.
The meaning of the method is that the backlog in the product is not enough to determine priorities in work. Patton believes that a more detailed structure is needed and offers the following mechanics: The
horizontal axis represents the sequence of use. Tasks on it are placed in the sequence in which they are performed by the user.

The vertical axis means criticality. Vertically, tasks are arranged relative to how important they are from top to bottom. Equally important tasks can be defined at the same height.

Groups of related stories are grouped as activities.

Strengths of the Story Mapping Methodology

This is a relatively simple visual presentation that allows a team, customers, customer, or other interested parties to share a common understanding of what is happening.

The method clearly defines how to gradually produce product iterations.

Organizational Methodologies

KJ Methodology

The methodology invented by Jiro Kawakita (hence KJ) is often used in various training and group management classes. The essence of technology is in the group process of setting priorities.

The KJ method is a 8-step process for groups of any size. To implement this method, you will need at least one hour. Participants should prepare:

  • Choose a moderator (moderator).
  • Cook a lot of stickers in different colors.
  • Find a room with a loose wall or large board.
  • Place a flip chart or a separate board for the results.

8 steps of the KJ methodology

  1. Choose a central question that will drive results. Each session involves its own central question.
  2. Organize a working group. Group members must be from different departments of the company.
  3. "Upload data" Stickers will be required for this. Each member of the group is invited to initiate a brainstorm in different directions.
  4. Place the stickers on the wall in a random order. Each participant, if necessary, can add new stickers at further stages.
  5. Group related topics. When all the wall stickers are added, the whole group begins to group similar topics.
  6. Name them. Participants must name each group using stickers in a different color.
  7. Vote for the most important, from your point of view, groups that will help answer the central question.
  8. Rate the most important of the groups. All stickers are placed on the board and arranged by the number of votes. Members can join similar groups, which adds their voices and raises their rating. When 3-4 groups are obviously ahead of the rest, activity ends.


Prioritization technique Feature Buckets

The author of the methodology, Adam Nash, proposed his analogy for setting priorities. In his opinion, the priority of functions varies greatly in different products and areas. Therefore, Nash emphasizes that the method was developed specifically for consumer online products.
According to the method, the functions need to be distributed in four buckets.

Metrics Movers are engine functions that can greatly influence product and business goals. There should be specific goals and decision strategies to invest in a product or function (an example of an indicator is the Pirate Metrics framework).

Customer Requests are query functions. They are requested by the customers themselves. Usually are additional improvements.

Delight - functions that are created within the company based on an understanding of design or technology. Work on them is important for pleasant surprise customers.

Strategic - functions that are important for strategic reasons related to future goals.

Each prioritization method has its own characteristics and, probably, not all of them can be adapted to the life conditions of your product or company. Then you should try modern services that help you work with priorities - modern online tools for determining priorities and tracking task statuses. They facilitate planning and help prioritize all product tasks quickly and easily.

Backlog Priority Chart - one of such tools, which offers a complete platform for product managers Hygger.io .

In the service, you can find the Value & Efforts rating system and 4 quadrants-criteria for determining the degree of priority:

  • Quick Wins - Priority Ideas.
  • Big Bets are high priority ideas that can be executed after Quick Wins.
  • Maybes - ideas with less value and urgency.
  • Time sinks - ideas that can be completely postponed or removed.


Hygger allows you to structure your backlog using universal Scrum and Kanban boards, labels and Swimlanes.

How do you deal with prioritizing your affairs? Do you use effective methodologies and useful tools? Perhaps there is a super efficient method that you can share.

I hope that the methodologies for prioritization described above will help you put emphasis and learn to identify the most important tasks and identify those that can slow down work processes. Experiment and get good results!