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Prioritizing IT Projects Based on Business Strategy

Something that is often overlooked when prioritizing IT projects is how backwards it is to base those prioritizations off of IT strategy. Consider who you're working for, after all. By deciding priority based on Business strategy, IT can make sure they are doing the work that is going to be most valuable to the business and their own interests. Sai Machavarupu goes on step futher: IT strategy ought to be the 3rd link in the chain, after both business and product strategy. Machavarapu goes on to explain that no matter the model you develop to prioritize, it's important to take steps to make the plan match the action: 

Of course, all models work well on paper. No prioritization model is going to be completely accurate, and people will inevitably try to manipulate the results. To minimize the problems, you can take a number of basic steps. First, develop criteria to define what constitutes a project and enforce these guidelines so that projects are compared on equal footing. Having a clearly defined project scope and a project charter will be necessary first steps in enforcing these guidelines. Second, don't score every project: for example, maintenance projects (such as database software upgrades) should not be subjected to strategic analysis. Finally, consider limiting the total number of projects a department can request within a given year so that the process is not flooded with requests. This limit has to be different for different departments based on business priorities. 

The benefit of basing IT project prioritization on business strategy is how rapidly IT will be able to move with the business. CIOs can prove the value of the work they're doing instantly because they'll have both ROI and alignment to the needs of the business.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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