Project Management

5 Signs of a High Priority Project

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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One of the issues with managing multiple projects is that everyone thinks their project is top priority and they all have to show some progress by the end of the month. I wrote a book about that (inspiringly called Managing Multiple Projects) and there are lots of things I could teach you about keeping all the balls in the air.

However, today I want to focus on one thing: helping you understand what makes a project a priority.

You might think this is an odd subject, because your PMO creates prioritisation lists and everyone knows where they sit in the order. But there are many companies that don’t have that level of structure. Or they do… but everything on the list is a Priority 1.

Here are 5 signs that your project really should be a high priority project.

1. It contributes to a strategic objective

Does your project directly align to strategy? Does it deliver something, or a part of something, that is on the strategic roadmap? Can you link it to a corporate objective? If you can, then it’s probably high priority.

I believe that there is a place for non-strategic projects, as there are peaks and troughs in project work and time enough to get other things done. But if your project gets a mention on the strategy deck that was shown at the last corporate Town Hall, then it’s a high priority for the organisation.

2. It is documented as a priority

There’s an obvious way of checking: if your PMO has a priority list, where does your project fall on it? As I’ve said above, having a list isn’t always a sure-fire sign that prioritisation is actively happening. If you read through the list and see that everything is a High Priority, move on to the next criteria below to assess what your ‘real’ priority is!

3. It is an enabler

Wi-Fi upgrades, telephony, laptop replacement schedules, infrastructure projects… they might not sound top priority, but if they enable something else then they are critical.

You can’t launch a new sales portal on a creaking infrastructure. You can’t build a new office if the foundations aren’t in place. This kind of project might plod along in the background but it’s an important one.

4. It gets a lot of attention

Do you have execs dropping by your desk asking for updates? Does your project sponsor return your calls quickly?

Projects that get a lot of attention are high on management’s radar. If the senior leadership team thinks it is a priority, it probably is.

However, they might also think it’s important as it is their pet project. Check to see how many people are giving the project attention. If it’s just the one, it might be a vanity project, and not something that is important to the organisation overall.

5. It is adequately resourced

OK… this one isn’t a perfect sign. I know a few high priority, strategic projects right now that are struggling for resource.

But generally, priority projects have the budget and support to secure the resources they need. I’ve worked on projects where resources have been pulled off to go and do something else – that’s a sure sign that my project was not as important as someone else’s.

If you have the people, time, budget and other resources that you need, you can bet that someone is enabling that to happen and there are routing for the project to be a success.

Would you agree with this list? What other signs have you seen that point to your project being an important one? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted on: September 13, 2022 08:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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"keeping all the balls in the air" is a beautiful metaphor :)

Another sign that a project is a high priority is the breadth of its impact across the organization. The wider the impact, the higher the priority.

Good expanation.
I think a mandatory project is a sign of priority. For example when the government or legal matter impose priority

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