Effective Information Filtering

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

You don’t need me to tell you that project managers are extremely busy. They generally have multiple projects to manage, and if they don’t then the project that they have is going to be massive. That means that there’s a lot of information coming at them all the time--e-mails, updates to project plans, instant messages, phone calls and voicemails, etc. There is no way that we can effectively process all of that information--we need to have ways to prioritize and filter it so that we can concentrate on the stuff that really matters while ensuring that the rest is available for reference when we need it.

This requires careful planning--if we just rely on things like rules in our e-mail tool to route e-mails that meet certain criteria into separate folders, then not only do we run the risk of missing something, we may inadvertently send an unnecessary message to stakeholders--and we can all imagine where that might lead. So how do we determine our priorities, and how do we apply those priorities? Well, here are a few things that I do.

Establish the priorities
I find that I always have to be clear in my own mind about which aspects of my projects are the most critical at any point in time. That will vary over time, but it shouldn’t shift dramatically from day to day--it’s evolution rather than revolution (unless something dramatic occurs).…

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