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So Your Portfolio Has Multiple Number One Projects – Deal With It!

paperwork cabinetCertain parts of prioritization are easy.  More likely than not, there will be one or two projects that you can tell right away are not on top of the list.  However, you may very well run into the problem of having more than one project in the #1 priority spot.  According to Kiron Bondale, when this happens, you may have some difficult decisions to make.  There will be arguments over resources and people, but this too must be dealt with:

Instead, you are likely facing a situation where you have multiple shared team members that are working on multiple non-discretionary projects.  In this case, you may have project managers competing with one another to see who gets which team member first, and resource managers getting caught in the no-win scenario of trying to keep everyone happy while honoring the priorities defined by senior management.  This itself is bad enough, but if the resource managers themselves are telling their staff that are stretched that all the projects are all equally important, they have now pushed the decision making about where to focus down to the individual resource which usually results in the realization of the saying “if all your projects are number one projects, then none of your projects are number one”.

Bondale gives some advice for what to if you find yourself in this situation.  First, do some research to see if what you consider to be a top priority truly demands to be active right now.  Next, engage in effective communication regarding milestones.  A project may seem to have more importance than it actually does until it comes time to judge milestones.  If missing milestones for a certain project would have graver consequences than another, that project is likely of higher importance.

It is also import to review timing and daily workloads.  This all seems obvious, but when someone is trying to defend their pet project, these considerations may fall by the wayside.  Finally, Bondale reminds us how crucial the role of project manager is.  Project managers should be trusted to solve minor problems so that the focus can remain on the larger picture.  Also, they need to ensure that team members understand the goals of the project at hand.  Choosing one project over another is never easy, but hopefully Bondale’s tips will set you on the right track.

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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