Monday, September 07, 2009

Ranking Projects

Rank your projects even if you have all the resources needed to pursue every project on your proposed to-do list concurrently. This establishes project priority, but more importantly it provides insight for identifying how well projects move you toward the goals that have been set for your portfolio, your organization, or your life. Wouldn't it be a shame to pour time and effort into a project you shouldn't even bother undertaking?

Below I have outlined one of the many ways to approach this task.

  1. Establish big picture success criteria.
    Success criteria at the big picture level provides a mechanism for assessing how well a project will move the organization or individual toward their overall goals and objectives.

  2. Weight the criteria.
    Order your success criteria, listing them from most important to least important or grouping them into a set of different importance categories (e.g. high, medium, and low).

    Designate a numerical value for each rank. The most important should have the highest value and the least important should have the lowest value.

  3. Test the criteria.
    Create a list of five to six fake projects with which to test your ranking tool. Don't pick something convoluted; These projects should be simple enough that how they would rank within your organization or life is intuitively obvious.

    Take each project and indicate how well it will meet the big picture success criteria. You can use any scale you like, as long as you're consistent across projects. (I typically like to use a scale of 0 - 5.) Score each project by taking the sum of how well it meets each success criteria multiplied by the criterion's corresponding weight. See below for an example:

    If the projects, arranged by score, fall into the expected rank, you are all set. If not, you may need to make some adjustments to the success criteria weight, to the success criteria themselves, or in some cases to the overall goals and objectives.

    When making these adjustments, be careful not to "fudge" data to make things fall into place. Take the opportunity to think through what's important and why.

  4. Score each project on your proposed to-do list.
    Once you're confident that your ranking tool is ready, apply it to the list of projects on your proposed to-do list. You may be surprised by what rises to the top of the list and what falls off the bottom...

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