Today, more than ever before, organizations are having to battle with fewer financial and human resources. Deciding where and how to allocate them is challenging – and these decisions have become even more difficult because a wrong decision can cripple an entire organization.
In view of this new environment, the process of evaluating and prioritizing projects must be rigorous and rational. The following work best when making decisions that must serve two competing goals: keeping your organization viable during a soft market and readying it to surge forward when the market regains momentum.
- Determine which initiatives best advance your strategic objectives. Like a good investment portfolio, you may consider a number of diversified strategies: growth-driven and cost-driven; customer-focused and employee-focused; weathering the current economy and preparing for the upturn.
- Develop prioritization criteria. From here, prioritize your criteria. These may include such things as ROI; speed to market; business risk; time to payback; where you are on the current and future product life cycle curve; and the degree to which it contributes to building the brand.
- Analyze your resource capacity. How much time do your people have to devote to the initiatives? How much capital and equipment will be required? The more you focus on your most important goals, the greater your chance of achieving them with excellence.
- Gather and organize information on current and planned projects. How many projects are currently underway or in the planning stage? How much time and money is each project currently consuming? How much will they require in the future?
- Evaluate every project and initiative. Determine which should go forward, which can be combined, how they should be sequenced and over what period of time. Consider ranking them from mission critical; important; wait-listed until resources are available and “parking lot.”
- Implement an on-going review process. Establish an operating committee to review progress. Keep a “dashboard” with key leading (and lagging) indicators on it. Follow-up regularly to see if intended results are achieved.
Setting priorities on initiatives ensures that your organization—no matter its size—is not launching more initiatives than it can accomplish successfully and that those launched are the most likely to succeed. Determining where to focus finite resources is a critical step in enabling an organization to survive the downturn and emerge from it, well-equipped and ready to leap ahead.