3 Keys to Enhance Project Selection to Achieve Business-Driven Goals

Traditionally, the Project Portfolio Management sector has attempted to take organizational strategy and translate it into reality. Unfortunately, the success rates of these traditional PPM projects have left organizations searching for a better method or process.

In order to understand why success rates of projects have been so dismal, we must remember why we execute projects, which is to implement change in the business. Whether it pertains to small improvements in efficiencies, software enhancements, or major mergers, projects have been our vehicle for this change.

Old Project Strategies vs. New Project Strategies

In today’s competitive environment, the pace of change in business is constant. Because of this continuous change, old annual planning cycles and systems cannot keep pace.  As a result, the history of PPM is littered with failed implementations that never fulfilled the promise to generate business value, execute against strategy or establish a competitive advantage.
When it comes to improving the quality of your organization’s projects, selection is crucial.  With a business-driven approach, each project has a specific and determined outcome to meet performance goals.  How can you make sure you’re selecting the optimal projects to garner the overall organizational results you need?  At IMS, a Dallas, TX based enterprise portfolio project management firm, we’ve comprised three simple tips to help you narrow down, prioritize, and implement the best projects to meet your most important goals.

Tips to Prioritize The Best Projects For Your Business Goals

1.) Outline a process for collecting project concepts

Every project your organization begins should have a result of advancing or improving business. To manage the innovations that will be presented to achieve these goals, a standard process to identify business value and resource allocation needs to be in place.  This process should incorporate both the solicitation of ideas, as well as the management of potential projects. 

However, this practice does pose some fundamental questions.  Should this be a formal or informal process?  Should everyone in the organization be able to submit and present ideas or only a designate group(s)?  These can be best answered by the type of culture fostered within your organization.  Whichever method you believe will best serve your personnel, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

What to Consider When Choosing a Project Method:

  • How deep should we go?

Some of the best expertise and insight can come from the people contributing to the organization at each level, daily.  However, with this influx of ideas and suggestions comes the burden of combing through them.  At the same time, limiting the pool of proposals could prevent you from considering a very valuable thought. 

  • Who is responsible for gathering and sifting through these new ideas?

Depending on your organization, a team or committee could oversee these collections.  Based on the importance, timing or business relevancy, more stringent or deeper selection and evaluation committees can be appointed.

2.) Utilize results to hone your selections

By leveraging the information you receive from a completed project, and bench-marking that data against the selection process, can you learn about the way projects are selected.  Are you focusing too much on one element? Does your selection criterion translate to the results you desired at the outset?  These questions can show where improvements can be made in the selection process. 

While monitoring the bottom line components of costs, time, revenue, and resources, lower level metrics needs to be considered.  Being able to see the project as a whole, along with the variables and elements that caused one outcome or another can lead to the discovery of opportunities or risks going forward in your project selection protocol. 

3.) Incorporate the appropriate tools

Now that we’ve looked at ways to gather new ideas and innovations, as well as ways to refine the process by which we choose them, it’s important we have the appropriate infrastructure and support to maintain these processes.  Implementing these practices will require a capable and consistent technology, so they can be repeated. 

Here are a few suggestions for implementing these practices:

  • Automate your workflows

Having software and programs in place to replicate your chosen process will help ensure all steps are made consistently.  This technology can see that the correct data and approvals are sent to the correct places as well as ensuring that proposals follow the desired protocols. 

  • Implement forms that provide consistent data

Collecting the same data and information from each proposal and presentation is vital.  With a consistent data stream and process in place, your results can be used in future selections, as well as future evaluations.

  • Track project value

The implementation of a project management system once a project has been approved and kicked off will provide real-time information.  This information can be used by top level management to monitor its impact on organizational goals.  It also provides a landscape by which costs and benefits can be realized.

By placing careful consideration in the projects your organization opts to invest in, you can directly attribute results, performance, risk, success and failure toward business objectives.  Having a sound method by which to gather, rate and manage concepts and potential projects will make the selection process more effective.  As this process evolves, so will the types of projects in which your enterprise participates.