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Conflicting priorities


We are often faced with “conflicting priorities”. How to manage work, when there are conflicting priorities. Everyone has their priorities set and you are expected to deliver at their priorities, whereas you have your own priorities. To state an example: 2 or 3 markets approach stating their requirement is important and it may look seemingly important on the face of it. How to manage such conflicting priorities – what are your views/suggestions to overcome and try to meet if not all, but majority of the priorities in the same gravity, reduce heartburn and still have your performance intact :)

Before posting this question, I did look up if anyone had similar conflicts. Looks like no one had!!
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I'm not sure to fully understand your question.

You have to choose between 2 or 3 markets, is that 2 or 3 projects? or is the market something within the project?

If the markets are projects it is a business decision to make.


for me, I make my own priorities. I do not let others decide on my life. I am no slave. I learned to say no. I learned how to explain my decision making so others are less disappointed.

This is the most important thing: Understand it is your life, your time and your decision. And then manage the expectations of others. Do not try to be the darling of many, it will end in failure, as you say heartburn and burnout. Be self-confident.


I manage many projects at any given time. The key is to know your projects well and know where you can effectively implement schedule change and where you can't. When explaining to the stakeholders, make sure you clearly articulate the reason. Is it resource availability? Is it budget? Effective communication goes a long way to showing you are a fantastic manager under pressure. It's always a huge part of the battle.

If you are referring to different priorities within a given organization, I would say that's what your CxOs are paid the big bucks for. Somebody, somewhere has to say that something is more important that others.

As a contractor, I have less control over my own priorities. I am basically a specialized set of skills at the disposal of the client. If I cannot negotiate suitable deadlines, I go back to the client and have them tell me what is more important.

From the outset, you will find that all stakeholder requirements are equally important to them, this is a given otherwise they would not have raised them. It is, therefore, a key task of the analyst to use prioritization techniques to analyze and rank the requirements accordingly. You cannot just take a list of needs and try to prioritize them based on what the stakeholders say they want. There are many different techniques/methods than you can use but at the end of the day you need to gather data that can be used in the evaluation process. Stakeholder 1 and 2 have conflicting needs. You need to get to the bottom of what it is they really want, what problem they are trying to solve and what happens if you can have only one of the two (or possibly have neither). Remember it is about big-picture thinking not about what John or Mary would like to have.

Personally I like 5 Whys, bubble sorting and MoSCoW.

I'm not really sure how you own priorities (as a PM I assume) would come into play since you are just the executioner and should have no bearing on the decision beyond working with the analyst/s to put data behind the decisions.

Key thing is to understand that are not your priorities, they are the stakeholders priorities. So, help them to prioritize by performing facilitation sessions. Something very important: this type of things belongs to business analysis not project management. I am writting this just in case you need to search about how to do that.

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"I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again."

- Mark Twain



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