It can be challenging to get a group of people to agree on project prioritization or even individual aspects of a product. This can create prioritization troubles.  Honing your skills is essential for juggling priorities to achieve your project goals.

Prioritizing requires you to assess the value of an idea or work product against its cost and then compare it to other ideas. This is a process of determining the level of importance and urgency of a task.

Project Prioritization and Metrics

  1. Prioritizing by ROI is Easy
  2. Ranking without ROI is Hard
  3. Brainstorming New Metrics
  4. Rank Your Ideas

Prioritizing by ROI Is Easy

ROI is a simple concept. You compare the investment in a project against the projected
return – money in versus money out. When you can use monetary value for benefits and costs, prioritization can be relatively easy in a for-profit organization.  ROI analysis helps you quantify the efficiency, the return, and the costs of an idea. It can help predict the outcome before the product or feature is ready.

Although it can be challenging to estimate revenue or cost savings, you probably have some historical data to reference. When the idea has a positive expected ROI and its return is bigger than other ideas, it moves to the top of the list.

Project Prioritization Without ROI is Hard

When your ideas or potential projects are not easily monetized, prioritizing is much harder. Some products which are offered to customers at no cost: articles (like this blog post), white papers, webinars, and conference talks are built to reinforce our value to existing customers and find new customers. These products are difficult to monetize. Companies often must connect with a potential customer many times before they  have an opportunity to present a proposal or make a sale.

Non-profit and government organizations have the same challenge. Their main value is service to their members or citizens who receive the services without a direct payment (I know that citizens pay for the services with their taxes, but these payments are not usually directly tied to the service received). These organizations need to use project prioritization factors other than ROI to determine relative importance.

Brainstorming Project Priorities with New Metrics

So what can we use other than ROI to prioritize projects? We need other criteria or metrics to rank the new product ideas. One way is to identify other values that might result from building a particular product or solution. Part of this analysis requires you to create a method to measure and compare these values.

Developing and using varied metrics makes project prioritization easier. Be creative about coming up with ideas for new metrics. Encourage your team to think about the values your customers or your organization might receive by approving the project.

Brainstorm different types of metrics. For example, will the solution result in increased efficiency? Will it provide better service? Will it improve the quality of our products?

For government agencies – Will this solution:

  • Enhance the quality of life of a citizen?
  • Make it easier for our citizens to interact with us?
  • Make our agency more efficient? More agile?
  • Allow us to work more smoothly with other agencies?
  • Build goodwill with other regions?

For marketing products consider:

  • Will this product attract a new customer?
  • Will this product extend our brand awareness in the marketplace?
  • Will this product fill a need that our current customers are looking for?
  • Will this product further or deepen our relationship with a current customer?
  • How will this product impact our competitors and our industry?

Rank Your Ideas

Create a ranking for each criterion and total up the values. You could use the Fibonacci series of numbers as we do in planning poker (Learn how to play in our Agile Fundamentals eLearning Course) to make best ideas jump out (0,1,2,3,5,8,13..). This is not an exact science, don’t get stuck spending too much time analyzing, just estimate.

Benefits Ranking Example:

Idea Improved efficiency Better service Higher quality Total Score
Idea 1 1 8 5 14
Idea 2 13 0 0 13
Idea 3 5 13 3 21

Try out some of your new metrics ideas and see how they work. Sometimes by simply trying to find new metrics, your team will discover its most important project priorities. Often people know which ideas are more valuable than others but have a difficult time articulating their feelings.

An objective ranking can help surface your team’s underlying knowledge.  Facilitating more quantitative, analytical thinking will improve your team’s future decisions making also. RMC offers an eLearning course called Handling Unrealistic Schedules where you can  learn more about project prioritization.