Use these two tools to help you choose the best technology for your team

by Kevin Mok
December 4, 2020

You’ve already decided your digital vision and have decided on a plan for your strategy.

Now it’s time for specifics – choosing the tech that’ll help make it all happen.

It might be tempting to pick the newest, shiniest toys with the slickest marketing out there – but that’s not always the best way to go. Instead, taking a more systematic approach to decision-making will ensure you get the options best suited to your needs.

The two methods below – User Stories and the MoSCoW framework – will make it much easier to decide what you really need and how those needs are going to be met.

User Stories

What are user stories?

User stories are short explanations of system features written from the perspective of the end user. This means they illuminate the process of actually going through and using the systems so you can see what value they provide. They’re more than just a list of system requirements – think of them as mini case studies for possible futures.

User stories are non-technical and informal, which makes them super useful for those that aren’t comfortable with complex tech jargon. People are the focus here, with the actual tech taking a momentary back seat.

User stories can also make collaboration and group creativity easier, helping your team see the end goal so they can think more innovatively on how to get there.

How do user stories help you choose the best technology for your team?

They put the human front and centre – in this case, your team and your customers.

User stories bring important context to projects, so that instead of focusing too much on the tools and tasks at hand, you’ll look at what the tools are used for and how they solve real problems.

When choosing technology for your team, user stories enable you to envision how it fits into your overall strategy. This helps maximise your ROI by aiding you in choosing tech that solves your problems, rather than creating a bunch of new ones.

How to build user stories

So now that we know how important user stories are, let’s have a quick look at building them.

We regularly run workshops with our clients to understand the pain points of their internal and external users. In these we might propose a story structure like this:

As a [type of user], I want to [some goal], so that I can [do something].

You can see it’s pretty short – more of a statement than a story. You might expand it with a few more sentences of context, but it does need to remain simple. No long paragraphs or complicated explanations!

When making these stories, in more complex scenarios, we might subdivide a user story into broad categories, such as:

  • What the client experience is

  • How people are trained on systems

  • What happens when something doesn’t go to plan

  • How existing systems fit alongside new ones

So with a set of user stories for your most important use cases, you should have a much better understanding of what your tech needs to do.

The MoSCoW framework

MoSCoW is a really useful framework for understanding the capabilities of prospective technology and how they service the needs that are highlighted in your user stories.

MoSCoW is all about prioritisation; it allows you to put things into categories depending on how necessary you think they are to a project or strategy. It ranks them from most to the least important, and doesn’t require any complex calculations.

What does MoSCoW mean?

This acronym stands for:

Must have , Should have, Could have , Won’t have.

These are the four categories that you’d use to rank your needs.

  • Must haves are critical to your delivery timeframe in order for the outcome to be successful. These are non-negotiable features that you can’t miss out on.

  • Should haves are important, but not necessary, for success in your stated timeframe. It won’t be a disaster if you miss out, but things will certainly run smoother if you don’t.

  • Could haves are desirable, but not necessary. They can be seen as more of a ‘want’ than a ‘need’ and might provide minor improvements to things like user experience or customer satisfaction.

  • Won’t haves are the least critical needs; ones that stakeholders have agreed either aren’t necessary to achieve their objectives, or only contribute to a minor positive outcome.

The MoSCoW framework is laid out as a simple table. In each row, you list a feature requirement. The vertical columns begin with the requirement name, with each of the M, S, C and W columns giving you the space to put a cross into the corresponding box (see the example below).

Once it’s filled out, you’ll have a neat visual overview of your requirements which can be turned into a checklist for when you’re shopping around.

If you’re comparing multiple different systems, you can then easily see which ones hit all your ‘M’s, most of your ‘S’s, and some of your ‘C’s.

One alternative might be to compare each prospective system with a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ column. The problem with that method is that it focuses on what each system can do, rather than which of your specific needs are met. A MoSCoW table is a better way of prioritising and making sure the tech works for you, rather than just picking something with the largest feature set.

Example MoSCoW

Here’s an example of what a MoSCoW table might look like for a team choosing a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.

Each row represents a feature requirement, and these have been categorised into ‘campaigns’ and ‘contact management’.

This is just a small example, but more complex setups will make for larger MoSCoW tables with more categories that can be filtered. That doesn’t necessarily mean lots more work – remember, the framework is there to make decision-making easier by laying it all out in an overview of what should be given priority.

The MoSCoW framework will help you navigate the decisions of vendor selection with clarity – it’s well worth doing.

To learn more about how to choose the best tech to maximise your ROI, join our free webinar on December 10.