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5 Tips on How to Prioritize Your Project

Within most large organizations – as well as smaller businesses – time and resources are in short supply yet high demand, making project selection more difficult. Evaluating and prioritizing projects can be complex, but this vital first step can negatively impact the business if not assessed carefully.

All projects—especially large, complex projects—need clear priorities. Easier said than done. You can count on technical projects, no matter how well-planned, to involve change orders, re-prioritization and the regular appearance of surprises. 

Prioritizing increases the success rates of strategic projects, increases the alignment and focus of senior management teams around strategic goals, clears all doubts for the operational teams when faced with decisions, and, most important, builds an execution mindset and culture. 
 

1. Become Involved in the strategic level planning

 
The first step for a program, portfolio or project manager is to become involved in strategic level planning. Sit down with the leadership team to gain a full understanding of the direction of the business, the timing, and their overall vision; there is no such thing as too much detail here .
This may require more than one strategic planning session, and will provide valuable insights to help guide decision-making for programs, portfolios, and projects. Consider this similar to a roadmap or blueprint that will not only mark the desired destination but also provide additional markers along the way to follow, to help confirm if you are navigating in the right direction. 
 

2. Make the Project Schedule Visible to Every team member on board.

 
Running a project team without using a schedule that’s accessible by everyone is a sure-fire way to set your team up for problems. At some point during a project an executive is likely to make a demand that shifts priorities; or, another team’s work is delayed and that has a ripple effect. This new information doesn’t always disperse itself through the entire team, so you have some individuals working on either a shelved task, or yesterday’s priority. 
To keep team members updated on their top priorities every day, use a collaborative project and work management tool that lets everyone from individuals to managers to stakeholders have unlimited visibility  nto the project schedule and all the associated work in progress. 
 

3. Identify factors which may impact project success

 
Additional factors that should carefully be considered are the return on investment (ROI), budgeted funds, available resources, and timing, and if there are any dependencies or limitations (among other factors). Company budgets and timing are almost always limited, making it impossible to take on all project ideas conceived. Some projects may need to be put on hold if they depend on the successful outcomes of other projects, or there may be factors outside of the business’s control that could delay or prevent the success of one or more projects.
 

4. Know your business well

 

When you know your business, you’re in a much better position to prioritize project work. Here are some ways to learn more about your business, and continually stay on top of trends:

  • Read widely in your field and industry.
  • Pursue continuing education.
  • Ask each team member about the work being done.
  • Learn what matters to your manager, other stakeholders and customers.When you know the business, and understand how your team’s work fits in to a larger vision, you’ll be able to set the right priorities for your team.

5. Order Tasks by Estimated Effort

 
If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates, and start on whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete. Productivity experts suggest the tactic of starting the lengthier task first. But, if you feel like you can’t focus on your meatier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters. 
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Within most large organizations – as well as smaller businesses – time and resources are in short supply yet high demand, making project selection more difficult. Evaluating and prioritizing ...
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