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Topics: Governance, Information Technology, Portfolio Management
Project Prioritization for multiple customers
Hello PM gurus,

I would like to understand how should one prioritize a list of initiatives (software development) from multiple customers. Keeping in view that there is a limited set of Dev/QA pool, how to go about prioritization?

Who is responsible for this prioritization and how often should this prioritization be done since new project requests come in every now and then from existing and new customers?

PS: I have searched through some forums and googled as well, but not really hitting
the required results.

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well, it is a little bit tricky situation. You need a list of key criteria. you need this for any type of prioritization problem. Then determine the weight of each and finally compare the projects/initiatives.
Preparing the list of criteria is very hard.

you might want to look into techniques that deal with bottleneck resources (optimizing ways to use them most efficiently). I think for example about critical chain project management (avoiding multitasking, procrastination and lack of planning), Kanban (though seldom done right), and lean supply chain.

People based considerations are to support bottleneck resources by stripping any unnecessary task from them, give them admin support and good working conditions, make sure they are appreciated and give them clear priorities and assignments. For them, multitasking is especially damaging.

Also, you should setup a deal board which approves any new customer request checking if the organization can deliver. Do not let sales guys determine the workload of the team, which will lead to burnout and attrition, and finally to customer dissatisfaction and loss of business.
I doubted in answer due to you started with "Hello PM gurus"... It can be answered from multiple point of views but in my personal experience are two main drivers: if you are working in a company that offer project as a service (so you depend on selling those services) or not. Generally speaking a project is started to achieve an organizational goal/objective to put strategy into action. So, the way to undestand it is to devide the initiatives into 3 main groups: Strategical (high risk), ROI (medium risk), Required (low risk). TO decide which goes to each group you have to take into account alignement, all type of resources, organizational culture and involved technology.
Don't be afraid to prioritize your clients. Some of them will be more important to you and your company than others.
Who is making the decision? Is there an governance committee or is it a single decision maker? You could facilitate a discussion with the decision maker(s) to determine what is important to them from various qualitative and quantitative factors such as profit, client strategic importance and so on to create a simple scoring model but that is there to support and not replace the discussions between the decision makers. The important thing is to ensure that only as many projects which can be effectively concurrently run get committed to.

If its from multiple customers for the same piece of software then you could analyse the data and see what issue are customers most experiencing and assign a priority level to each issue accordingly. This task could be assigned to a developer with testing experience who could knows the software code and were issues are likely to arises. Additional resources could be assigned when required.
This is never perfect. You'll likely be ticking someone off despite best of intentions.

Make sure there is crystal clear prioritization criteria which is understood by each of the project customers/sponsors. Also have an escalation path if you get to an impasse with sponsors on prioritization, perhaps someone in your management chain who resolves with someone in the sponsor's management chain.

Just do your best to keep things as objective as possible and check emotions and any biases you have at the door. If you appear to be anything other than 100% objective then you're inviting conflict with a customer who my feel jilted.

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"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

- George Bernard Shaw