How to prioritize IT projects: a 5-point checklist


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


Flickr photo by redvers