I am writing a business plan for management, in which I wish to differentiate the options between that something is a must (mandatory) and other thing 'nice-to-have'.

The concatenated word 'nice-to-have' sounds less formal for business proposals, but I am not able to find a proper 'big' word. 'Optional' or 'alternative' might work, but it lacks the meaning that the option is perceived to 'be nice'...

Well, what I am asking is to seek a formal expression, and it doesn't have to be a noun. The context of the business proposal is like below:

After investigation, we believe that (1) The acquisition of XXX is mandatory as it's concerned with XXXX; (2) Taking ownership of XXX is always a nice-to-have, but considering current human resource, we may not take immediate action.

  • 3
    You could refer to it as a "bonus"...
    – Hellion
    Apr 19, 2018 at 15:39
  • 1
    Since this is business, could you provide us with the context or the bullet point/sentence that you currently have?
    – JoHKa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 16:07
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA, I'd argue there's enough of a difference due to the context. This question seems to be asking for the correct jargon for a business proposal. This can be quite different from the suggested duplicate where the top voted answer lists "option" (doesn't really apply) and "luxury" (which tends to minimize the value of the request and could be offensive to the requestor).
    – kuhl
    Apr 19, 2018 at 20:57
  • @kuhl .... but where the answers "desirable" and "bonus" and keeping "nice-to-have" were also posted in the original question too. Citing the OP's sample sentence "Taking ownership of XXX is always an option"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:00
  • @Mari-LouA I don't know, that still feels like a different sentence to me. "Taking ownership of XXX is always a nice-to-have" seems to prioritize a request while "Taking ownership of XXX is always an option" feels more like a suggestion that the company take ownership of XXX. It might just be me, but that's how I'd interpret those two sentences. I'd also argue that even though many of the same answers are suggested, the context (formal business proposal vs what sounds more informal) could change the correct answer.
    – kuhl
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:12

9 Answers 9


I usually see “desirable” for this usage. “Optional” is also used, but often in RFPs I see both headings, where those features listed under “Desirable” weigh more heavily than those listed as merely “Optional”.

  • 2
    I have an issue with this "one word business". Of course, a desirable option. An adjective is one word....I agree with the answer, not the question as it implies there is some noun that would work.
    – Lambie
    Apr 19, 2018 at 17:26
  • @Lambie - Where the noun is implied by context, it may often be omitted, even if the "best" book-correct English would suggest that it should be included. The RFP example in my answer is representative of the general class of cases where the noun is contextually implicit, as is the "business plan" context the querent is indicating. Apr 19, 2018 at 17:31
  • “Desirable” sounds more like an “option” to my ears, though I have heard it used in the OP’s desired context.
    – M.Mat
    Apr 19, 2018 at 17:52
  • 5
    In the querent's context, I see terms used approximately as follows: Mandatory - not having it is a "show stopper"; it can't be done without. Desirable - not having it is not a show stopper, but it significantly impairs the resultant value. Optional - not having it is not a show stopper, and does not significantly impair the resultant value. Apr 19, 2018 at 17:58
  • Thanks Jeff. I think desirable works great. How come it did not come to mind? :)
    – Dave Hwang
    Apr 19, 2018 at 19:23

As someone who has read and created business plans and requirement documentation in both my academic and professional career, I'd recommend sticking with "nice-to-have". This is common language in a Request For Proposal (RFP) or business plan, at least for IT Projects.

Alternatively if you are set on avoiding "nice-to-have", I'd recommend one of the following:

  • High Priority and Low Priority
  • Requirements and Requests

Or another less formal option that is used often in RFP's:

  • "Needs" and "Wants"
  • 5
    I agree. In my experience, most company management is perfectly happy with short, meaningful terminology, and using "must-have" and "nice-to-have" would be perfectly normal.
    – CCTO
    Apr 19, 2018 at 20:45
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    Agree totally with kuhl and CCTO. Use the right phrase when it applies. Brevity and clarity are good too.
    – smci
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:36
  • 1
    "MUST" and "SHOULD" are also common, especially in specifications of behavior
    – Nemo
    Apr 20, 2018 at 1:23
  • While "nice to have" does seem entirely appropriate, FWIW, "a nice-to-have" comes off as a little bit idiosyncratic. I would usually say "<x> is nice to have" rather than "<x> is a nice-to-have", although the meaning is probably clear in either case. Apr 20, 2018 at 13:26

The word you're looking for is "preferable" or "preferred" depending on the context. Alternatively, you could frame it in the sense that something "would be ideal, but it's not required."


This stands in contrast to "mandatory", which of course implies that it is a "must-have" rather than a "nice-to-have".

Using your example: After investigation, we believe that (1) The acquisition of XXX is mandatory as it's concerned with XXXX; (2) Taking ownership of XXX is preferred/ideal, but considering current human resource, we may not take immediate action.


Thesaurus.com gives a number of antonyms for "mandatory". My own preference would be to have a list of essentials and nonessentials, taking the Collins definition of "not necessary".

I know that "nonessential" doesn’t convey "nice to have" from the point of the salesman, but from the point of the buyer, it shows where monetary savings can be had.

The alternative is to flip it on its head and create a gold level list, where all the "nice-to-have" items are included, making the silver and bronze lists (of just the essentials) look like inferior options.

  • Good suggestion which is inspiring. If this plan were made for customer service, I would definitely use gold level list as you suggested.
    – Dave Hwang
    Apr 19, 2018 at 19:25

It might help to have a little more context.

The usual “formal” term for something that is not a necessity is luxury:

an inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain. [Oxford Living Dictionary]

but it’s quite an unpleasant term to use for things which, while optional, are hardly sumptuous; I would prefer the latter term unless the items (or services) concerned are a way up the scale towards voluptuous.

Edit: I didn’t notice it, but @Lambie’s comment up top is a good enough answer. I’ll delete this answer if you add one.

  • The querent did supply minimal context; the inquiry was in connection with "writing a business plan for management". Apr 19, 2018 at 17:55
  • Perhaps I should rephrase it, then: I think your own initial suggestion is good enough as it stands, but @Lambie’s suggested addition of desirable improves it ? Apr 19, 2018 at 17:58
  • ... is this, say, tendering to build a hotel, or stage an event, or ...? For most contexts, nice to have seems reasonable, but if you were trying to compete with top-end ski resorts, virtually nothing is truly optional :o) Apr 19, 2018 at 17:58

Consider MoSCoW terminology.

MoSCoW helps us set priorities together

To address this common contracting problem, we’ve adopted a practice called MoSCoW, which is an acronym:

Must Have: These user stories must be delivered for the project to be considered a success.
Should Have: These user stories should be delivered for the project to be considered a success, but there is flexibility how they are delivered.
Could Have: These user stories could be included in the project, but only if there is sufficient time and budget.
Would Have: These user stories would be included if we had time and budget, but we all agree that it’s not feasible to include them in the current project.

So perhaps you could define them in the document and rewrite as follows:

After investigation, we believe that
(1) XXX must be acquired, as it's concerned with XXXX;
(2) XXX should be taken into ownership but considering current human resource, we may not take immediate action.

  • 1
    Worth noting that the W formally is "Won't Have", but occasionally changed to "Would Have" in some organisations.
    – user274438
    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:19

I have used:

Required Features:

  1. Most important
  2. Next most important
  3. etc.

Optional features: (Resources and schedule permitting):

  1. First nice thing
  2. Second nice thing
  3. etc.



Acceptable formal words may depend on the sector, but I would go for a plus:



3: a positive factor or quality

The listed example sentences match the use in your sentence pretty well:

Examples of plus in a Sentence

The apartment isn't perfect, but the fact that it has new appliances is a plus.

The job doesn't pay well, but the convenient hours are a definite plus.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/plus also lists a related idiom:


  1. pluses and minuses, the good and bad points of something; the advantages and disadvantages; the pros and cons :
    She spent hours listing the pluses and minuses of each of the apartments she had looked at, trying to narrow down her choices.

Coveted. From Vocabulary.com:

coveted means "in demand" or "desired." If the most coveted seat on the bus for you is the one right next to the bathroom, then you shouldn’t have any problem getting it because most people don't want it.

I think ‘coveted’ lends a little thrill to the acquisition of whatever-it-is that would be ‘nice-to-have.’ It acknowledges this “extra” may not be necessary but is definitely desirable and possibly evoke the envy of others.

  • 1
    'coveted' means something different to 'nice-to-have'. It also unnecessarily injects subjectivity and emotion. 'nice-to-have' is a perfectly adequate formal term.
    – smci
    Apr 19, 2018 at 23:44

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