Many organisations struggle with the concept of portfolio management and its core process, a project prioritisation scheme. Why prioritisation schemes become such a major production, requiring every senior manager, administrative assistant, two security guards and four programmers to make happen is astounding. The process should not involve calculus, and in fact, nothing more than simple arithmetic should be applied. It should be started with a simple premise, be tested with a set of projects and used as a starting point to prioritise projects in the portfolio. Adjustments can then be made as the prioritisation tool is used, and it can be made to reflect more of the holistic business thinking that a portfolio manager would use in the environment.
As a good friend Roy Becker once shared, “you don’t have to be perfect to start, but you have to start to be perfect.” Establish a few key parameters, combine them in an easy point system to create a prioritisation score, and START. As you review more projects, if there are differences in the score versus what is believed to be the “true” prioritisation, make changes to the scoring scheme to reflect your newly identified or revised criteria.
What elements should you use for this simple scoring scheme? Common components are; project costs, project benefit, a simple high-medium-low risk rating, and a strategic value rating from 1-10. It is that simple. Making it more complex is certainly something you will want to do over time, as you test and adjust the model.
Are you or your organisation avoiding starting the prioritisation of projects because you are trying to make the prioritisation scheme perfect before you start? What is stopping you from creating a simple approach and using it in a pilot environment and adjusting it as you go along?
Remember, when it comes to the prioritisation approach, you don’t have to be perfect to start, but you have to start to be perfect. Start the process, use it as a data point and adjust as appropriate. Before long you will have an elaborate prioritisation algorithm that will serve you well for years to come.