How to create new MoSCoW prioritisation statuses in Jira

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
Visiting St Basil’s cathedral was a must when I visited Moscow in 1988

A few months ago, my team at work considered using DSDM’s MoSCoW prioritsation technique for our project’s user stories in Jira.

After a little pondering, this morning I worked out how to do this in our cloud-hosted Jira. This short post shows you how.


MoSCoW works well in agile projects which have fixed length iterations. When time has been fixed, understanding the relative importance of user stories on the sprint is essential for ensuring the team delivers the most important work on time.

The uppercase letters in MoSCoW stand for:

  • Must have — the solution won’t work without these.
  • Should have — important but not vital; without them things may be harder but there are workarounds.
  • Could have — these features are nice to haves; if left out these have less of an impact than the Shoulds.
  • Won’t have this time — it has been agreed that these requirements will be left out. They may be reprioritised later.


Having pondered how to do this in Jira (for example, should we prefix or append card titles with the priority, e.g. ‘Prepare for SIT testing [MUST]’) I suddenly realised that it may be possible to extend or replace the built-in priority statuses. It turns out that you can and it’s ridiculously easy; you need to be a Jira admin to do this, but here’s what you do:

  1. Open Jira Settings (click the cog icon, bottom left).
  2. In the left-hand navigation locate Issue attributes > Priorities.
  3. On the Issues > View Priorities screen you can add your new priorities: Must, Should, Could, Won’t.
Four new Jira statuses

For the icons, I created my own with a simple M, S, C or W on them and hosted them on GitHub. I used PNGs for speed; I’ll create SVGs at a later date.

And that’s it.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

One thought on “How to create new MoSCoW prioritisation statuses in Jira”

  1. Hi Gareth, Thank You for posting this.

    As long as you’re only managing Stories in JIRA, this is a great solution, but I’m not yet convinced that this would work for all issuetypes.

    (I would love to be able to define the JIRA priorities by issuetype or possibly even issuetype and project.)

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