Great week! We finally prioritized all our projects. Here's how we did it: Sarah collected all the project names from the functional managers. They knew that if their project was not listed, it would not be worked on next week. She categorized them into five groups:
- New Product Development: We invest money in the hopes that some customer will buy the product or service when we're done.
- Customer Order: Some customer has promised to buy the product or service when it's finished and may even be paying for the development.
- Process Improvement: Invest to improve the current processes, reducing cost and increasing profits that way.
- Regulatory Mandate: Make this investment because we're told to by some regulatory agency. Do it or we cannot stay in a particular business.
- Facilities/Infrastructure: Invest in real estate, buildings or electronics to get into new or more business.
Sarah wrote these on large flip-chart pages and pasted these on the walls of the room we were using. Then the steering committee arrived. I had representatives from IT, Marketing, Ops, IT QA, and QA. Finance was unavailable but we had a quorum.
Once we had reached agreement on where each project fit in the categories, we prioritized within each. Armed with post-its bearing numbers from 1 - 20, I facilitated the team deciding which Process Improvement project was most important to company business.
Lots of interesting discussions developed. "What constitutes company importance?" Was it time to complete, investment, number or types of resources, how many other projects are affected by this one? All mattered but, through discussion, we were able to achieve a forced ranking of every project within each category.
Then the tough job arrived. We now had five #1 projects. We had to decide which of these five was most important to the future of the company. Once that was picked we had four #1 and one #2 to pick from. This continued until one category was exhausted and then we had only four to choose from.
Lots more great discussions until all 45 projects were force ranked.
Next up, we need to resource the top projects until we run out of resources.