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Prioritize Project Management Life Cycle

May 19 2008

Prioritizing within your Project Management Life Cycle

As a Project Manager, you often have more than one project management life cycle “on the go” at the same time. So to help you manage this, we’ve described here in this newsletter…

How to Prioritize Projects…

Why should you prioritize your projects – don’t they all have to be delivered on time and within budget? Yes, but any smart Project Manager will recognize that the project management life cycle only have limited time, resources and budget available to do it. So they need to set priorities, to ensure that their most important projects don’t run out of time, people or money when they need them.

So here are 3 steps to help you prioritize projects quickly and easily…

Step 1:  Define your Criteria

The first step is to define your criteria for ranking one project over another. And the best criteria for determining project priority is the fit between your project and the overall business strategy. If one project is undertaken to achieve a critical part of your business strategy, then it may be marked as a higher priority than one that’s not related to the business strategy at all.

If you have no clear business strategy from which to prioritize, then use other factors, such as the: level of project risk, the amount of resource consumed, the extent to which other projects are dependent on this one, or simply the likelihood of success.

Step 2: Match your Projects

With a clear set of criteria defined, the next step is to match your projects against those criteria. You will need to identify the extent to which each project matches the criteria set out, and identify any gaps.

This is the most important step, as projects that you thought would be a perfect fit against your criteria may not end up being so. And projects that you didn’t think were that important may end up meeting many of the criteria and therefore be marked as high priority.

Note: Make sure that your personal preferences don’t influence the exercise. It’s easy to make the “fun” projects the ones that receive all of the priority. Unless they are critical to the business, they should always be the “icing on the cake”. It’s often the more mundane projects that are critical to the strategy for the business.

Step 3: Define the Priorities

Ok, so you now have a list of projects that are each ranked according to their fit with your criteria. You now need to define their priorities.

We suggest you keep it simple. Group them into A, B and C (with A being “high priority”, B “moderate priority” and C “low priority”). Decide now how you are going to manage each priority grouping differently. You may decide for instance, to spend more time on your “Group A” projects than your Groups B & C. You might drive them harder than the rest, report on them at a more detailed level than the rest and always allocate spare resource to them, over the rest.

And there you have it. By taking these 3 steps, you’ll prioritize your project management life cycle faster and more efficiently than before, boosting your chances of delivering your high priority projects on time and under budget.

And one last tip—try these Project Management Templates to save time on projects.