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How to prioritize your organization’s projects

timeJay Rollins starts this article with a premise: let’s say you’ve put all projects into a repository and estimated cost, benefits and requirements. That’s great ““ but have you determined priority? This is often the point where organizations either being to struggle or they simply avoid prioritizing correctly in a hope that “good enough” will somehow work. Prioritization takes time, of course. Consideration must be paid towards the business cases for whether the projects are actually able to be worked on, and all of this bundled up for the executive team to take a look and evaluate which projects will be prioritized and which will be pushed back or cancelled – and this is a point where Rollins thinks IT could do better:

The idea is to have all the business cases and first stab prioritization basically squared away so the executive team can just make the decisions and IT can ramp up the project engine quickly. The problem I ran into was lack of participation of the initial management review. Because of this, the executive meetings took forever to get approvals for projects. All the questions that were supposed to be asked and answered in the previous step didn’t happen. The accountability for the entire scrubbing process fell to the PMO team and that is NOT a situation you want. There are a couple of root causes that I have uncovered, however. One could be that the executive team did not have faith in the VP and Director level to ask the right questions. The second, which is more likely, is the executive team did not see that accountability for project prioritization to be at the VP or director level.

Despite this, Rollins explains, the overall goal of the PMO must be to get a yes or no decision and get the projects moving forward. In this way each level of the organization has a specific role that builds off of the decisions made before it: projects are validated for value and alignment, the executive team then prioritizes those projects, and then the PMO makes sure those projects are completed successfully. This removes the doubt that can occur in the minds of the PMO as to whether they are doing projects that executive management actually wants done and, likewise, removes the doubt in the minds of the executive management that all projects being worked on are aligned to business objectives.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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