By Rob Prinzo
end of August marks the end of summer vacation and the beginning of
planning and budgeting season. One small problem: the economic
sluggishness that was supposed to be behind us has reared its ugly
head once again. With wild swings in the market, who can�t help but
feel a bit skittish.
Nevertheless, you want to move your initiatives forward and you�ll
undoubtedly be asked for your plan regardless of funding
limitations. But how do you prioritize the list of projects that
have accumulated over the last year, and develop a strategy to move
forward in this economic environment?
Developing a strategy does not have to be a major event requiring an
off-site retreat, consultants, breakout sessions and flip charts.
The following is a simple five-step process that can be conducted in
one to two sixty-minute sessions. The result will be an effective,
prioritized plan for your projects. You may even surprise yourself
and find that there are a number of initiatives that you can move
forward without additional resources.
Step 1 >
Make a list of all your projects, big and small.
developing a comprehensive list, you feel more organized (but
perhaps temporarily overwhelmed).
Step 2 >
projects in a spreadsheet using the following criteria:
Size (big or small)
process or technology)
Type (new project or
part of existing operations)
required (yes or no)
of effort (high, medium or low)
additional resources or can be absorbed by existing staff)
impact (high, medium or low)
Step 3 >
Step 4 >
Prioritize the projects based on the categories and dependencies,
according to the following:
Low Hanging Fruit �
Small projects with few or no dependencies that have an
immediate impact and can be achieved with no additional
resources. Examples include implementing existing systems
functionality requested by end users, cleaning up customer
lists, or developing new ways to analyze data to make better
Projects � Small- to medium-size projects that make a measurable
impact with dependencies that can be influence by team. Consider
breaking up long-term initiatives into smaller projects, or
breakout the upfront requirements� definition into separate
projects. Examples include rolling out additional system
functionality, gathering business requirements, documenting
processes, or evaluating vendors in preparation of a larger
project that is inevitable but unlikely to happen this budget
cycle due to the economy.
Initiatives � Medium- to large-size projects that have a
significant impact, but have significant dependencies outside
the influence of the projects team. Examples include business
process transformation projects, new system implementations, or
new strategic initiatives.
Step 5 >
it all together:
on your categorized list, start by developing a plan to knock
out the low hanging fruit. Hopefully, this will clear your plate
of some nagging initiatives and make room for larger projects
when funding is available.
If you are unable
secure funding for inevitable long-term initiatives this year,
try to get a head start by working on the intermediate projects
that are considered pre-work for the long term initiatives. This
strategy will prepare the organization for the larger projects,
reduce the overall project timeframe for the bulk of the work,
and spread the cost over a longer time period.
you are ready to move forward on the long term-initiatives, make
sure that your requirements analysis is complete. Most project
failures are attributed to poor upfront requirements analysis.
reality you can't escape the inevitable, nor can you ignore the
economic environment. However, having a realistic strategy developed
through methodical planning will help keep your organization moving
forward towards its long-term goals.
Prinzo is founder and CEO of The Prinzo Group, an innovative
knowledge firm that provides performance management expertise
through project assurance solutions for enterprise transformation
and technology projects, as well as performance measurement
research, publications, workshops and training. His new book,
No Wishing Required: The Business Case for Project Assurance, is