Prioritizing the Project Portfolio

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

There seems to be no end to the grinding and mashing of teeth when it comes to prioritizing projects into and within the IT project portfolio of an organization. Typically the pain found in many prioritization efforts is due to the lack of a consistent, objective and measurable method--thus leaving only persuasion and politics to guide the effort.

This is not to say there are not a host of issues and challenges related to the prioritization process, some of which that seem to defy objective quantification. Issues related to:

  • Risk of Failure
  • Windows of Opportunity                       
  • Regulatory Uncertainty
  • Regulatory Urgency      
  • Resource Scarcity
  • Risk to Capital
  • Economic Uncertainty
  • Competitive Positioning

…and more can make the effort to achieve clear and concise prioritization criteria seem daunting (if not impossible) to achieve.

If only it were as simple as prioritizing projects based on the best return on investment. But even ROI can get muddy due to faulty estimates and over-exuberant value propositions. And what about changing the priority of projects once they have been started? How do you quantify disruptions to progress, impact on morale and …

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