IT Project Prioritization: How to Choose and Offload Projects
When it comes to prioritizing IT projects, there is normally a long list of to-do items, all of which seem pressing and considered urgent by stakeholders. Without the time or resources to tackle them all at once, it becomes important to prioritize tasks and delegate them effectively to your managed service provider.
Optimizing the prioritization process can help your IT teams with time management, enable all members to collaborate more efficiently, and help to ensure your team is tackling the most critical projects first.
That said, prioritizing IT projects is not an easy process. With many different parties involved, all of which seem to have varying opinions about how projects should be handled, it can be challenging to try to prioritize projects properly.
We’ve outlined some strategies to help with project prioritization and detailed how to create a prioritization system that can make this task more efficient and effective.
Strategies for Prioritizing IT Projects
Here are a few things that your business should consider implementing as part of its prioritization system:
Evaluate IT Projects Strategically
Before you start, it’s important to spend some time gathering all of the information that your team needs to be able to prioritize projects effectively. This information gathering should involve working with the leadership team and getting a thorough understanding of the business’s overall vision, the current direction of the company, and the timeline for any major shifts.
By increasing your understanding and keeping the company’s strategic-level planning at the forefront, the IT team will be better positioned to prioritize projects properly.
Figure Out Which Factors Are Behind Each Project
In the same vein of information gathering, it’s helpful to understand what factors are motivating each project. Is a project focused on gaining a competitive advantage, legal or tax regulations, improving quality, financial benefit, process improvement, reducing risks, or growing the business?
When your team understands these motivating factors, they can be more effective at IT project prioritization.
Locate Potential Roadblocks
Think through anything that could potentially impact project completion. Do you have a project that can only be finished once another team completes a task? Or one that is dependent on factors that are outside of the business’s control?
If so, it’s important to locate those roadblocks or process contingencies so that you can keep them in mind when evaluating which projects to take on first.
Develop a Criteria-Based Matrix
Once you’ve compiled the necessary information, create an objective system for weighing and evaluating IT projects. Developing a criteria-based matrix is a solid way to do this, and it’s a model that can be used repeatedly.
Using a criteria-based matrix will enable your team to rate each project based on pre-established criteria, which will provide a data-driven, objective system for prioritizing tasks.
With the relevant parties at the table, the first step is to establish what criteria will be used to judge projects. These criteria will be unique to each organization and should be specifically catered to your business’s needs and priorities.
When crafting these criteria, make sure they are factors that can be measured easily and objectively. Examples of common criteria are:
- Ease of implementation
- Potential revenue
- Competitive advantage
- Customer satisfaction
Once the criteria are established, allocate weight to each criterion on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being least important and 5 being most important.
After the criteria are decided upon, you can use the matrix to evaluate specific IT projects. Using a similar 1 to 5 scale, rate each project based on the impact that it will have on each criterion identified.
After rating each project based on its impact, simply multiply the rating and weight to get a score for each criterion. Next, add up the scores for each project to determine the order in which projects should be addressed.
Share the Prioritization List
Once you’ve created a list that prioritizes projects, it’s important to share the list with leadership and management teams before beginning work. In addition to sharing this list, it’s helpful to also review the matrix with stakeholders so there’s full disclosure about how projects were ranked.
Doing this ensures that everyone involved is on the same page about what projects will be given priority and helps to establish clear expectations. Furthermore, it offers another opportunity for feedback and input before the established project is put into action.
Implementing IT Project Prioritization Strategies
To help make IT project planning more productive, keep these guidelines in mind:
Let data drive the process. Using data to help frame issues and the impact that projects will have can reduce the extent to which opinions and “gut feelings” drive and cause distractions during the process.
Be consistent about the criteria used. This ensures that organizational priorities are at the center of the process, as opposed to departmental desires or an individual’s biased opinion of how projects should be tackled.
Unify around goals. Unifying around the same top-level goals before beginning the task of IT project prioritization will help make the process more focused and effective.
Prioritize with a specific time frame in mind. This small shift can have a big impact on the prioritization process and how the prioritized list is received.
Prioritizing IT projects isn’t easy or quick, but it’s an important step toward ensuring your IT teams are successful. Taking the time to go through this process gives the team what they need to prioritize tasks. It also gives them peace of mind that they’re taking on the most important projects first.