How to prioritize IT projects: a 5-point checklist

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Is it your new year's resolution to get your IT project to-do list in order? Stop procrastinating and start prioritizing! To get you started, here's a straightforward 5-point checklist that I use.

  1. Know what's out there:
    • Ask people – internal and external – now (there's no time like the present!)
    • Ask during budgeting/planning process (make sure those items are on your calendar)
    • Ask during proposal planning (add it to your form, checklist, or project plan)
     
  2. Organizational Goals – if you have funders, board members, or other groups you're beholden to, make sure you know what is important to your organization as a whole, not just to individual projects

  3. Get everybody 'N Sync – Decisions should be made with the technical folks in the room, but ultimately the decisions have to come from the top of the organization
    • What may seem like a simple project to a non-technical person may have complexities they don't understand ("Can't you just copy and paste that code?")
    • Conversely, the top levels of the organization are aware of organizational goals and strategy that may move projects up the priority ladder or impact your budget
     
  4. Prioritize before you promise – Before you commit, know how much you can realistically handle, and that all your resources (time, money, staff) will be available
    • Plan for blackout dates or high-volume time periods such as holidays, pre-conference, or renewal periods
    • Compare similar projects to get an idea of how much to budget
    • Make sure you have the appropriate staff resources available
     
  5. Be flexible – Make sure you have enough room in your resources and project plan to handle unexpected surprises

Do these or other tips work for you? Share your tips in the comments below.

Flickr photo by redvers