Project Management

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Topics: Governance, PMO, Portfolio Management, Requirements Management
Project Selection Process
Our organization has a working group made up of senior management that helps guide future strategy with People, Tools and Process. Naturally PMO has been working with this group to help plan and prioritize all the upcoming project requests for the new year.

Although we take the time to document each proposal with a business case, not everybody has the time to read them, and effectively evaluate what is priority when it's decision making time. In the past we have tried score cards, but it was also met with it's fair share of challenges.

Just wondering how others manage project selection within their organizations?
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Based on my little experience you can find the key stakeholders that support the project, motivate those stakeholders to promote the use of the business case (improve it to the point where is straight forward, simple, and easy to read.You may want to determine what communication type is needed for the different stakeholders and also find motivational techniques you can incorporate to your career. Good luck!
You have to take into account this: people never read. So, you have to explain and you have "to sell" the idea. That is an activity that must be performed by the portfolio, program and project manager with the level of detail each one take.
We summarize the information in our proposals in five or six power point slides and send them to the decision makers prior to the meeting.

We cover important points as to the Benefits, Risks, High Level plan , high Level budget , alignment with strategic goals, high level time lines , high level deliverable , project delivery approach in the slides slides so they can skim through and if they are interested to dig deeper, they can look at the detailed proposals.

In the meeting we are seeking endorsements or rejections for the proposals and the understanding that the senior management at-least have a fundamental grasp of every proposal.
I just would like to share the scenario of my organisation. I basically involved in roadways construction and maintenance projects. Our projects (highways construction and maintenance projects) are mostly based on capital and maintenance funding in each year. Our organizational strategy is to serve public by improving transportation network. Although we do not follow step by step project management methodology but we play around it. I think, project selection criteria varies from industry to industry and according to their strategy execution framework.
I've worked with many large companies and I have never been fortunate enough to part of the project selection process AS A PM. Only ever as an analyst. But you refer to two different activities in your question - selection and prioritization. For me these are different. When projects are selected it is done based on the strength of the business case as you indicated. My experience has always been that this is done way before any PM or PMO involvement. Only once projects have been approved does the PMO get involved to prioritize those approved projects in the pipeline and the process you describe is fairly standard based on my experience. The 'trick' however is that once the project has been approved there is no real reason for people to read the complete business case to prioritize. The results stemming from analyzing the impact of all the projects on business should be used in prioritizing them i.e. highest ROI over the shortest time frame.
Shawn -

It is interesting that you mention that scoring models were tried and put aside - was that a function of too high expectations on what the scoring models could have been used for, or was it that project requestors were trying to "game" the system? I've found that scoring models are a useful support aid for portfolio governance committees but shouldn't try to perfectly capture the decisions they would normally make.

My current client is a bank, so there process is quite structured (though onerous!) - tranche-based funding for new initiatives based on the repeated submission (tranche-over-tranche) of a progressively developed business case.

Hi Shawn, one of my previous roles for was head of small department that was responsible for understanding needs of the entire company, understanding current status and company capabilities, sift through the ideas coming from all kinds of stakeholders and then form recommendation for the committee of executive managers. You can call it strategic business analysts team or portfolio management if you will. It was not PMO. So basically it was my role to propose and present ideas for approval because executive management does not have time or access to all the details to be considered when deciding on which project should be part of the portfolio. And then, for the decision itself, typically the main financial metrics played the key role or overall project criticality.
I found this system quite effective but indeed I had to maintain trust between my department and the C-level as well being very well informed about the whole company, strategic goals, our capacities, current issues etc. The point is that you have someone for whom it’s a full time job to gather and understand the ideas and their details. I think it’s quite hard and sometimes even risky to pull up a business case or business summary, present it and push for decision. People who decide hear only what was said. If someone presents it in a smart way, it is approved but it does not mean it was the best decision.
Well, you'll get out what is put in. If there is an appropriate intake process, but not followed....

Could identify the hurdle, i.e. reading, and have a matrix to showcase a predetermined set of criteria that will prioritize the efforts, i.e., having a way to represent value to organization or cost of delay.
Good luck.
When you have a number of interesting and challenging projects to choose from, finding a project that is the right fit for your team’s skill set, level of competence, and has the best chance of success is the first step in project management. I often use mathematical approaches to demonstrate if the project is feasible or not to the board of management. Without using monetized methods, it is difficult to make a comparison between the alternatives. This example may be useful to decide which alternative is the best for the organization

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