You are about to lead another project kickoff meeting. You know what your team is supposed to do, but do you understand why? You are not the only one who isn’t sure. Too often, we are given projects to lead but not given any background information about why this project is important. This hinders your ability to inspire and set the vision for your team. It is not your intention to say, “Because management says so.?” Management is your job too. You are. Your project portfolio management process is the key to finding out the answer. You want to understand how projects are selected and suggested for your company. You will be able explain why this project is important to you.
The process of selecting projects will vary from one company to another and from one industry to the next. Despite this, there are common themes that should be part a project portfolio management process or project selection process. A standard selection process should be used to select project ideas. This process should be structured in a way that can objectively evaluate the efforts of your company.
Let’s start at the top. If your company has a clear mission and you understand what you do, you are already ahead of the game. You are already ahead in the game. With the mission in mind, what are your company’s goals for the next one, five, and ten year periods? These goals should be the focus of the projects chosen. The goal must be clear. It is not enough to increase our customer base by 15%, and have at minimum 50% of our customers purchase at least $50,000 worth goods each year. This is better. When someone suggests a project, it should be evaluated on its ability to increase our customer base by at least 15% and have at minimum 50% of our customers buy goods worth $50,000 each year from us.
Every project does not have to be about growth. Your company has a portfolio. This portfolio includes projects that help you achieve different goals. Your organization’s project portfolio should be designed to provide maximum performance, just like a financial portfolio that is tailored to meet specific investor needs. There will be projects that must be completed to meet regulatory requirements, to improve operations, to be more competitive, or to strengthen your brand.
Ideas for projects don’t just come from the top. Anyone can offer suggestions. Even someone new to your company might have some fresh ideas. They might also suggest ideas that aren’t quite right. You can really benefit from different perspectives when you have a process for selecting projects that allows everyone to offer suggestions and is reviewed by the right people.
The best projects will be chosen if there is a process in place. If each project has a priority then everyone will know why this project is important and why it is important now.