This technique was shared with me by a friend of mine, Dominic Lusardi, an entrepreneur, digital expert. It’s a simple prioritisation method (originally created by Dai Clegg during his time as a software development expert at Oracle Corporation) by which he assesses and determines what needs to be done in any project he undertakes, large or small, as a way of understanding and managing priorities:

• What Must we do?
• What Should we do?
• What Could we do?
• What do we Want to do?

This approach provides a clear way to scope out and determine what is mandatory and necessary, and what is desirable, on any project.

Obviously, this provides quite a robust yet flexible framework to really target requirements.

The ‘must-dos’ focus on any compliance, health and safety or legal essentials without which the solution is unviable and therefore the project is undeliverable. As the project delivery date is irrelevant unless these issues are solved and the project requirements are met, the ‘must-dos’ are inevitably mandatory.

The ‘should-dos’ focus on what’s important but not fundamental to the project’s success, what the project is diminished without but still remains viable, or what isn’t deliverable yet so may need a long or short-term workaround. The project can still be fulfilled without them, but they would add notable value.

The ‘could-dos’ consider what isn’t by any means critical to the project but is nevertheless desirable, or what, if omitted, would have less impact than leaving out a ‘must-do’. They’re not fundamental to the project’s success but they would still add value.

The ‘wants’ could be seen as a way to drill down better on the previous, more important ‘must’, ‘should’, and ‘could’ aspects of the project. At the same time, they acknowledge what will not be delivered this time and manage expectations to prevent the project’s remit increasing by stealth. The ‘wants’ could become, in turn, a priority at a later date.

What is crucial is that the different stakeholders involved are aligned when it comes to the project’s objectives and priorities.