Prioritising projects

5 things you must consider when prioritising projects - for small to medium business leaders

As a leader or business owner it can be really tough making sure that you’re focused on the right things.

Squeaky wheels get oiled, mundane tasks that need to be completed take too much time, and we slip into our comfort zones by doing the things we enjoy that protect us from having to do the more difficult tasks.

When we do finally sit down and look at the backlog, how do we determine what’s most important?

I’ve found these 5 simple measures to be great for refocusing the mind on what’s important.

The only caveat here being that people and taxes always come first. If you’re not looking after these – you won’t have a business long enough to worry about any other projects you haven’t got to.

fit with strategy

Of course we’re assuming you have a strategy?! If you don’t have a strategy you don’t have a business, you have a job. Worse still, the market is your boss, and it can be very fickle.

Check to see whether the project fits with your strategy. If it doesn’t, one of two things need to happen. You either need to ditch your project and find uses of your precious time that do, or, rethink your strategy.

If you don’t think it fits with your current strategy, but think it should, get the person promoting it to argue for why it fits. If it still doesn’t fit, ditch it, or in rare cases revisit your strategy. If you’ve done your strategy properly, this won’t happen very often (if at all).

Fit with strategy is the only binary measure in these five. Focus is critical to success, ditch anything that is going to distract you from your goals.

Will it generate revenue

Second on my list is revenue generation. Cash is king! Revenue coming in keeps the doors open and your wages paid.

If you have projects, or tasks, that are going to generate revenue get them done first.

Sales and marketing should be on the top of the agenda for most business owners. Getting leads flowing and sales converted is critical, so long as it’s profitable…

impact on profit

How much profit is your project going to deliver? Are you increasing margins, or reducing costs? What is the impact going to be on the bottom line?

Choose the projects that increase profits as well as revenue. Be careful not to let profit margins slip with revenue increases though. This is a slippery slide. Make sure both charts are trending up at the same gradient.

I can’t think of a time when a non-profitable project should be completed. You should always be able to look forward and see an outcome that returns profit, even if it is a short term hit to the bottom line.

DIFFICULTY

Having determined a fit with strategy, and balanced the trade-offs between revenue and profit, you might find yourself with a list that exceeds the resources available. If confidence or circumstances outside your control don’t allow you to resource up to get them all done, you’re going to need to prioritise further.

Difficulty is one measure that can help with this. More difficult projects generally come with greater risk, and often involve an ongoing overhead.

Rank all your remaining projects based with difficulty on one axis and time to implement on the other.

TIME TO IMPLEMENT

Getting a balance between quick wins that add profitability (albeit less impacting), and longer term projects with perhaps large wins, will help motivate you.

Chart your projects, mapping difficulty against time to delivery, and show the size of the prize where they intersect.

It should now be reasonably obvious where you should be investing your time. Take the best balance of quick and long term projects, create a timeline for implementation including cashflow forecasting, and measure regularly to keep yourself on track.

Good luck!

For larger projects, or projects that fit into other processes. You might need to build a business case and forecast return on investment (ROI).

We can help you with this.

Our LINQ offering allows you to create a “digital twin” or LINQ Sketch of your current processes while tagging the areas that your project will impact. LINQ then allows you to make a copy and edit your Sketch to create a future model that can be compared showing exactly your cost savings, time savings, and reduction in risk to key outcomes.

For a limited time we’re offering a free consultation where we will help you build your business case using LINQ.

You can find out more here.

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For a limited time we’re offering a free consultation to help you prioritise your projects using LINQ.
Scott Kennedy