Four reasons why project prioritisation is underexposed in many firms

ppm, Project Portfolio Management, Strategic Planning

While project portfolio management has been embraced in the past years by the business community, there is still room for improving the maturity level. The first step towards project portfolio management, is most likely the focus on centralizing initiatives into a standard data structure and implementing a project intake and update process. A great start to get a first grip on the portfolio. However, in almost any company, there are more initiatives than what can be executed given the scarce resources in budget and people resources. That is where project prioritization comes in, an essential part of strategic project portfolio management.

Hurdles for project prioritisation

But why is the maturity of project prioritisation quite low? What are the hurdles to get started or to improve the prioritisation process?

Support for objectivity

A sensitive hurdle to overcome is the fact that using a project prioritisation methodology leads to an objective comparison of the different projects. From a strategic portfolio management perspective, this is exactly what is needed to come to a portfolio with projects that realise maximised value for the organisation. However, it complicates pushing pet projects to get priority over other projects. And that is exactly the hurdle to overcome. Management needs to be supportive of the objective prioritisation approach. If this is not the case, it is a huge challenge to implement it successfully.

No idea how to get started

In our meetings we do hear that management understands the importance of having a project prioritization framework. However, how to get started and what factors should be included, is a huge hurdle. Sometimes there have been efforts to come to a supported framework but it has never been truly adopted. As a result the prioritisation exercise was suboptimal and not considered as truly valuable. It all boils down to interviewing all relevant stakeholders, facilitating workshops to come to an initial set of parameters and iteratively finetuning the framework until the outcome is explainable to all stakeholders in the company. The investment is more than worthwhile, so don’t hesitate to ask for support in this exercise. To get more ideas about different options, check the article from the PMI Institute.

The fear of becoming bureaucratic

“We’d like to keep it simple”. An argument that makes no sense, but is commonly heard. By not having a prioritisation framework to define an optimal portfolio, life becomes harder as different people question why certain projects get priority over other. Next to that, it provides a platform to employees to set their own priorities, which is devastating for achieving maximal portfolio value.

Project prioritisation does not have to be complex. There are simple ways to get started with. And just like strategic portfolio management, a firm has to grow in project prioritisation. So just like the use of bizztracker software we advise to start small and grow organically into a more mature model of prioritisation.

Ineffective use of current prioritization framework

“We do have a prioritisation methodology, but it just doesn’t work”. Well, that is actually a good thing. It means that the organisation realise that there is a need for it, but the method itself is probably not finetuned yet. In that case, don’t conclude that it doesn’t work, but invest time to develop it further with support of consultants that can guide you in the different options.

Way forward with project prioritisation

If you recognise one of the above hurdles, it is time to step up and get started to mature the prioritisation exercise. Strategic project portfolio management can only be effective if three processes are successfully implemented: strategic alignment, prioritisation and managed delivery. So our best advise is to invest time and resources to take it to a higher level. We’d love to help you with that exercise!

About biztracker

Bizztracker enables organizations to connect the dots between strategy and execution. Our portfolio management solution is built to provide the insights you need to define the portfolio composition as well as to monitor the running portfolio. With the full spectrum of strategic, operational, resource and financial portfolio management functionality, bizztracker enables firms to transform at the speed of change. Our unique selling point is the flexibility to only use that functionality that is in line with your level of portfolio management maturity, keeping it simple and pragmatic.

To support our customers we also offer consultancy services to design / implement the project portfolio management processes and to facilitate in defining strategic scoring frameworks for prioritisation.

For more information, visit our website

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