Don’t think you have any projects? Chances are you do! Want to write up your family tree? It’s a project. Want to find your 5x Great-Grandmother’s baptism record? It’s a project. Want to find out about life in 18th century London? You got it – it’s a project!
Draw a mind map. Write a list. Type it into Excel. Chat about your ideas to a friend whilst videoing yourself or record your voice. Then type it up.
Once you’ve got a record of your ideas, take a step back and look at them. I bet there are loads! Can you achieve all of that, all at once? Probably not, which is why your ideas need to be broken down into something more manageable.
Must Have – absolutely essential, you cannot complete your project without this, these items are critical
Should Have – these items should be included, your project would be better with them, but it is still possible to complete without these items
Could Have – these things are nice to have, if you’ve got time
Won’t Have (this time) – these things are out of the current scope, you don’t have time to include these at the moment or perhaps they are items that are wondering off the core topic / objective of your project
So how can I Apply MoSCoW to my Project?
Decide on your timeline, and then divide it into manageable chunks. For example, in the above picture I’ve set a goal to research the social history for the period of 1841 – 1891 for my rural Hampshire Pithers ancestors.
Redefine your goal and look again with this more concise aim. Are all the Musts still Musts? Probably not. Now review the Shoulds and Coulds.
Once you’ve done this for each of your goals or subjects you can start to look at time in greater detail. Create a post-it note for each of your time chunks (e.g. month 1, month 2).
Re-organise the sub-post-its so that they sit within each of the time chunks. Well done – you’ve defined your scope and got the basics of a project plan!
And with just the milestones:
In the world of project management each stage in the life-cycle has a check gate. At the end of each stage the decisions made to date and the progress (or lack of!) is reviewed.
This might not be necessary for your genealogy project, but it’s worth keeping the theory in mind. Whilst you’re plugging away at your tasks you may discover something that totally changes your goals.
Or, perhaps something unexpected happens in your life and you need to re-evaluate your timelines. Perhaps things are taking longer or shorter then you expected?
In any of these instances, it’s worth pausing and re-evaluating your project. You may even want to return to one of the earlier project stages and re-jig your goals or plan before you continue.
Goal achieved? Fantastic! How did it go? What did you learn on the way? We often think that we’ll easily remember the lessons that we learnt whilst working on a project. However, it’s surprising how quickly we can forget things.
Finally, remember all those should, could and won’ts you listed. Do you have another project in mind? Can you use these items and save yourself re-inventing the wheel?