Enterprise IT Context for the CTO

Bob Gourley

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What to Know When Prioritizing Your IT Projects

IT projects have become a common sight in the business world as companies continue to adopt and integrate new technologies to improve their organizations. This is simply a common sense strategy, one that keeps businesses competitive as the world around them changes. Though IT projects can be extremely useful, they can also quickly become a disorganized mess as organizations become filled with them. Such unregulated chaos can’t go unchecked for too long, which means business leaders have to step up and sort out the mess quickly. That requires prioritizing different IT projects. Though the idea sounds straightforward enough, prioritizing your IT projects is far from easy, especially since each project has different considerations business leaders need to take into account. The process may be challenging, but the end results are worth it since properly prioritized IT projects keep companies more organized and help them make progress more quickly.

As mentioned above, every IT project brings with it key differences. One of the most important to keep in mind when prioritizing is what the driving force behind the project is. Businesses will have different reasons for wanting to initiate an IT project in the first place. Perhaps you want to look into the latest flash storage options to improve efficiency, or maybe you’re looking at adopting more cloud computing services. Motivations can come in many types, from gaining a competitive advantage over the rest of your industry to improving the quality of your products. Determining these motivations can certainly help in the process of prioritization.

Once you know the driving force of your IT projects, you can proceed to actually calculate what value they provide to your organization. Each project will have a different impact on your business. Some will be small, while others could be transformative. That’s not to say that the projects with bigger impacts should take precedence over smaller ones all the time, but far reaching effects could influence how other projects proceed. When quantifying a project’s strategic value, you’ll also need to measure what those impacts are on the short-term and long-term side of things. All of these must factor into determining which IT projects you should start first and what amount of focus to place on them.

Prioritizing IT projects may feel like a daunting task, which is why you shouldn’t have to do it on your own. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, and when making such important decisions, it would be wise to get other people’s input on which projects should take priority. Perhaps certain departments have a unique perspective to offer on which projects will have a significant impact on them. For that reason, creating committees that help you in the prioritization process is a necessary step you should take. With more people collaborating and offering their own ideas on the matter, you can be sure to make an informed decision about your IT projects.

Once IT projects have been prioritized, that’s not the end of the process. Projects need to be reviewed on a fairly regular basis to determine if they should still be considered a priority. After all, many IT projects take months or even years to complete. Over that time, many of the factors that affect its successful implementation can change. If those factors change, some projects may no longer be considered a priority and a reshuffling of your focus might have to happen. Reviews should also be conducted by the same people you consulted with in committees, once again bringing many different voices into the conversation. Regular reviews are a crucial part of ensuring each project is getting the attention it needs.

The old strategy of simply starting as many IT projects as possible won’t work in an increasingly complex field. Prioritizing the most important projects must take precedence. With many factors to consider such as what resources are available and what would be the right timing, the challenging tasks of prioritization will require a knowledgeable and informed mind. As you are more in tune with all of the projects within your organization and the benefits that are expected to come, you’ll be able to have confidence you’re placing the right amount of attention on each IT project.

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com