Project Prioritization
July 7, 2021

Project Prioritization: How to improve the way you manage your projects

By Niall Lenihan


Project prioritization is the project management elixir


Ask any seasoned project manager and they’ll tell you that learning how to prioritize tasks and projects effectively is absolutely crucial.

If you’re new to project management or dabble in the management arts from time to time, then you might not be used to quite this level of multitasking.

But don’t worry. That’s what we’re here to talk to you about today. In this article we’ll sharing some actionable steps that you can take to manage your projects with robust project prioritization methods.


  1. What is project prioritization
  2. The importance of project prioritization for team organization
  3. 7 ways to improve your project prioritization right now
  4. Project prioritization process – a step-by-step guide

So, without further ado, let’s get prioritizing!


What is project prioritization?


Project prioritization is the process of aligning, balancing, and delivering projects in an efficient manner.

It’s all about strategically working out which projects are the most important and concentrating your efforts and resources on those high-value initiatives.

It’s only with well thought through project prioritization plans that project managers can juggle multiple projects simultaneously, allocate resources effectively, and consistently deliver high-value results.

With a balanced project portfolio, you’ll be able to achieve the best results possible and avoid a descent into generalized chaos!

In fact, many seasoned project managers will tell you that project prioritization is the single most important organizational management skill. Strategic prioritization is the foundation for project management success.

And to achieve this balance you’ll need to cover the following bases:

  1. Align projects with your company strategy
  2. Identify which projects add the most value
  3. Ensure that the volume of projects taken on is achievable
  4. Optimize project delivery across your entire team

With these core bases covered you’re already on your way to balancing your projects like a pro and gaining the trust of your project stakeholders.


The MoSCoW Method


There have been many prioritization models devised over the years. One particularly popular method is the MoSCoW method. This is a handy acronym that covers all the elements you’ll need to consider as a project manager when setting out to prioritize projects. These are:

Must have elements – those things that your project would fail without

Should have elements – those things that are highly likely to impact project success

Could have elements – things that are non-essential but still beneficial

Won’t have elements – anything that can be eliminated with little to no consequence


The importance of project prioritization for team organization


We could stress the importance of prioritization until the cows come home, but why is project prioritization so important and so beneficial for managing team organization? Prioritization isn’t just about budgeting.

It’s also about adding value, organizational efficiency, resource allocation, achieving well-structured projects and – most importantly – high quality outcomes.

Let’s take a look at a variety of benefits that you’ll be able to achieve with project prioritization.


Skyrocketing success rates


First thing’s first, prioritization is a highway to success.

Did you know that projects that are aligned with strategy are actually more successful?

Research conducted by PMI shows that strategically aligned projects are 57% more likely to achieve their business goals, 50% more likely to finish on time, and 45% more likely to finish on budget.


Increased ROI


When you prioritize your projects in alignment with corporate goals, you’re priming your projects to be more lucrative in the long run.

And that means you can expect a higher return on investment (ROI). You’ll reap the rewards both for your finances and your professional reputation.

Free Project Plan Template in Excel

Click to download our Free Project Plan Template in Excel to begin simplifying your project management.

5 ways to improve project prioritization


So, how can we go about improving our project prioritization strategies so that we can enjoy the many benefits of strategic planning?

That’s a great question.

Below you’ll find five distinct ways to better your project planning and start implementing prioritization best practices right now.


1)    Assign a value to each project


Assess the value of each and every project that comes your way.

Have an evaluation procedure in place that you can apply to new proposals.

This should ultimately quantify the value of a project and determine whether or not it’s worth prioritizing.

Make sure you’re applying strategic criteria in the process. Consider metrics like net present value (NPV), projected return on investment (ROI), payback, potential earnings, and a risk assessment.

Use these factors to generate a project prioritization scoring model ranking projects as high or low priority.


2)    Identify urgent projects


Once you’ve assigned value to each project, you’ll be in a much better position to identify those projects that are most urgent.

Once you’ve generated a list of important projects, go through them again and start ranking in terms of urgency.

Which projects need imminent attention and which ones can be scheduled for a later date? Creating ranking categories will help with the process. For example, you could filter your important projects under the following categories:

  • Important and urgent
  • Important but not urgent
  • Imminent but not important
  • Neither imminent nor important


3)    Balance your portfolio


Now, you can balance your portfolio.

Apply a timescale to your projects and assign resources accordingly.

Balance out project demands with resource availability.

This will ensure that your teams are adequately supported and gives stakeholders confidence in your ability to deliver.


4)    Use a project management tool


Consider mobilizing a project management tool to help you manage and balance your projects more effectively.

By using tool like Project Central, you’ll be able to simplify your management process and collaborate more effectively with your teams.

Set out a realistic project plan with the help of intuitive task boards, Gannt charts, and project dashboards to generate complete project overviews.

If you’re not quite sure where to start, we recommend generating your own unique project template comprising tasks, resources, and a hierarchy of tasks based on your project urgency criteria.

Download our free project management template.


5)    Keep the focus


Last but not least, don’t forget to keep the focus.

After all that’s what project prioritization is all about.

By balancing your workloads effectively you’ll have the freedom to apply focus where it’s needed.

Once you’ve balanced out your projects, it’s time to compartmentalize.

Home in on your top priority project until it’s time to turn your attention to the next task on your list.


Project prioritization process: a step-by-step guide


Before you go off and start acing your own projects, let’s run through the process from start to finish. If you’re ever in doubt, you can refer to our Project Central project planning template (here), and get yourself back on track.


Step 1: Select your project environment


Where will you be managing your project from? If you’re using Project Central, you’ll be able to access an intuitive, reliable management environment that integrates seamlessly with your Microsoft 365 accounts.


Step 2: Initiate your project


Create and initiate your project. Set all necessary permissions, and invite your team members to start collaborating. With Project Central, you can invite anyone to the project from your Company Directory and declare your project private so that only team members can view.


Step 3: Plan the project


Start adding tasks, schedules, and files on your project dashboard. With Project Central its super easy to add and edit tasks. Move tasks around on a Gannt chart for optimum scheduling and access all of your project deliverables from one place.


Step 4: Collaborate


Collaborate with your team by regularly updating tasks, resources, and monitoring team activity. In Project Central you’ll be able to add additional details and resources to specific tasks and your team members can flag up any issues at any time with handy status updates.


Step 5: make adjustments


Resolve all of those flagged items and make any adjustments as necessary. Update task status reports and project scheduling to keep your team on track.

Prioritize project prioritization


It’s time to prioritize project prioritization. By balancing your project portfolios you’ll start reaping the rewards. Prioritization means better outcomes, increased ROI, boosted morale, better project proposals, and stakeholder confidence. It’s a win-win all round.

To streamline your project management process even more, check out Project Central – the simple and intuitive project management platform.

Get Started With Project Central

Sign up for Project Central's FREE 14-day trial & try out project management for teams using Office 365.
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