For lots of organisations, choosing which projects to embark on can be a challenge. How do you make that the next project you commence supports the goals of your business and pushes it forward? How do you prioritise your team, your efforts and your capital, in order to achieve the greatest benefit?
The answers aren’t always obvious. And all too often, even when you have your organisation’s leadership gathered in a single room, you will often have to contend with different personalities and nearly always with disagreement on which project to select. The way forward may seem clear to some, but everyone needs to be on the same page.
Start At The Very Beginning
The first step – understanding the various options to choose from – can be more important than many organisations realise.
It’s important that all stakeholders are in the room from beginning to end – the broader the group of decision-makers, the greater number of possible projects to consider.
Once you’ve identified the options you have, it’s time to choose. Make sure you consider these five key points:
1) Ensure that the project aligns with your business strategy.
Why is it so important that companies select the right projects in the first place? If a project concept is simply a good idea – or more problematically, someone’s pet project – it’s unlikely to survive. For this reason, you need to make certain that the project aligns with your overall business strategy.
For this reason, it’s important that all key stakeholders are in the room, and that they’re familiar with your overall strategy. With your business strategy as a guide, identify where each project might meet multiple goals.
One way to measure the value of a project is using a two-by-two matrix. On one axis, chart the ease by which the project could be implemented. On the other, chart its anticipated impact on your goals. This comparison will help you identify any project where the effort to implement it might outweigh the benefit or impact on your goals.
2) Identify a project champion.
One of the most crucial but often overlooked factors in a project’s potential success is making sure it has a designated champion or owner. Without someone to assume overall responsibility and advocacy for a project, it can easily falter and eventually fail. With a proper champion, especially from within the senior management ranks, you can help ensure that everything proceeds as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
The individual who serves as project champion should have a role at the highest level of the organization. They should also, of course, carry a commitment to seeing the project through. The champion’s job is to support the project, communicate its progress to the team at large, and tear down any barriers that might hinder the project’s success.
3) Complete an organisation-wide assessment.
In order to work out how intensive and how wide the effort to deliver this project will have on your business, you need to conduct an organisational assessment. This is critical in helping better understand the context in which you will undertake your project.
In this process, you will answer questions like:
- How involved will different functions or processes within your organisation be on this project?
- Is it isolated to the IT department (for example), or will this be a cross-functional department project?
- Which departments’ processes will be impacted by the outcomes of this project, and what changes might they have to make as a result?
Completing this assessment before you start your project will help you scope and coordinate the project and anticipate potential future project needs.
4) Assess your resources.
When trying to understand the future needs of the project, the next step is to evaluate the resources you have available to deliver them.
In most projects, resources may mean people, time, or budget. Do you have the skilled resources necessary to complete the project successfully and efficiently? This should be a key consideration in selecting your project. Projects for which you do not have a sufficient number of skilled resources may stall and become an ongoing drain on your business.
5) Have clear parameters for success.
When will your project be complete? What will determine completion? These are crucial points to decide up-front. As part of your project planning, you should clearly understand these parameters. How long will it take to complete?
When considering project timeframes, you should also consider and decide on the success measures of the project. When you know these from the start, you will be able to track not only the results, but progress along the way.
With these five considerations guiding your project selection process, you’ll be ready to choose the best project4 your business. From here, it’s all a matter of implementing your project – and managing it to a successful conclusion.