What’s at the top of your To Do list today? Perhaps it’s something an executive called you about last night, or a new project that landed on your desk this morning. Just stop for a minute and think: is this truly your most important, highest priority work?
The real truth is most people don’t know what their top priority work should be, and in the absence of organizational clarity, they make it up for themselves. Typically, people choose to complete work with the shortest deadlines instead of focusing on strategic, longer term goals. Your colleagues are smart people, and they may well be making the right choices, but wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t have to guess? Trust us, teams breathe a sigh of relief when someone takes that mental overhead away from them.
Common alignment challenges
We’ve written before about the top project management prioritization issues faced by teams. Our research shows that six challenges come up time and time again for project leaders:
- People are not working on priority projects and efficiencies are lacking.
- We have multiple projects in flight with shared or competing resources.
- We don’t know how to allocate resources for unplanned requests or unforeseen challenges.
- My project is going sideways because schedules are unrealistic and people aren’t aligned.
- We can’t decide between competing business opportunities. In fact, we don’t know what projects take priority.
- We don’t know how to sequence the work to get everything done.
Can you see any of these challenges in your business? You’ve probably met an executive who believes all their projects are top priority… but as the adage goes, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
Your teams should be working on the projects that are the real priorities for the organization. That’s not to say the other work doesn’t happen. Instead, lower priority projects should seamlessly fit around the critical work, so you make the best use of your resource time. There are always peaks and troughs in project work, and planning intelligence helps you improve prioritization on projects you manage to your advantage.
Improve prioritization on projects with the power of planning intelligence
It’s common sense that teams should be prioritizing their time to focus on the highest priority projects. But it is often the case that projects haven’t been prioritized. Without clear guidance from leadership, teams end up working on whatever seems like today’s urgent issue or for whichever project sponsor called them most recently.
That makes it hard to secure commitment for new projects because everyone is already occupied with no way of telling whether the new work takes priority over what they are currently working on.
Planning intelligence is a new approach to project automation that adapts to priority changes in real time. It uses smart ways to align people, priorities and projects so your teams always know what is at the top of their To Do list, even when priorities change regularly.
Using project management software with the power of planning intelligence, like LiquidPlanner, enables effective sequencing of work and increases productivity because people are focused on the right tasks. Regardless of the solution you use, here are some tips to try.
Use a priority-driven methodology
A busy project portfolio includes in-flight work and also pipeline projects that haven’t yet started. When there are no priorities set, it’s too easy to get pulled into working on the most interesting project, or the one with the most vocal executive support, even if those aren’t the initiatives that matter most to the business.
A survey of over 1,000 business leaders by Brightline shows that having an executive team that is aligned on priorities gives your organization a competitive advantage with strategy implementation. In other words, it can literally pay to have everyone on the same page as you will deliver more projects and get closer to your goals faster.
The right projects get done when teams have a clear view of priorities and a way of working together efficiently – even when priorities are constantly changing. Connect your strategic objectives and organizational goals to your planning and execution and you’ll see results. If you don’t see this happening within your team or department, you might try sharing the benefits that come from aligning on priorities at the top.
The solution to improve prioritization on projects is smart software that uses a priority-driven methodology to align objectives, people and projects so your team is always working on the right things. It’s more than simply putting projects in an ordered list. Using a structure based around packages and projects, you’ll create a global project prioritization that provides visibility for the most important work. Scheduling is priority-driven, so the top projects get the focus they deserve. Dependencies can be created between tasks that let the scheduling engine do the heavy lifting for you. When priorities change, simply drag-and-drop projects to reflect what’s now most important and with the power of planning intelligence, you can see the impact of changes instantly in schedules and resource assignments. Everyone can now be aligned behind the work that drives the business value for your organization.
Track progress and manage your team’s time
Making sure everyone is on the same page about what is important is only part of the challenge: you also have to give them adequate time to complete priority work. Over 60% of project managers report not having enough time to do work to an appropriate level of quality. You don’t want that for your top priority work. Instead, you need a new way of viewing how teams are spending their time.
Everything starts with setting priorities in your portfolio, but this is only the beginning! You can tee up a fully prioritized plan but this doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t play out in execution. One of the most powerful things a project team can do is to track time against the work they do. It becomes visible and clear as to if effort is being invested in the right things during the entire project lifecycle. And, everyone can see what is in progress, what is done, and what hasn’t started. Test this out and see if you can say goodbye to status meetings! Here are some tips to get you started.
Planning intelligence makes it easy to collaborate with your team, track progress, and make the most of your time and resources. Individuals get a simple view of their current priorities while project managers and team leaders have visibility into what their colleagues are working on. Integrated time tracking automatically updates estimates and schedules. In turn, that provides cost forecasting and integrated controls and analytics.
Stop struggling to manage priority changes
It’s a fact of life that priorities change regularly in some businesses. Instead of trying to stop that from happening, why not embrace the fluidity inherent in your organization? Step into a flexible, agile way of responding to customer needs and changing priorities with intelligent alignment.
It is possible to bring your team together behind what is truly important without the overhead of having to manually reschedule every time something changes (because that’s what software powered by planning intelligence does for you). A quick drag-and-drop of projects in the global prioritization list will reveal to everyone where they need to focus to ensure the business stays on top of the most important work.
If you recognize and struggle with any of these six challenges, then you probably are not using LiquidPlanner. Our customers have tried simple task management software and have been disappointed. They recognize that in the real world project priorities do change, and don’t waste effort on manual work adjusting resource assignments or replanning. Planning intelligence delivers a competitive advantage by allowing them to respond proactively and quickly to changes so they can deliver more, with less stress, and greater team alignment. How would your team feel if they could have the same thing?
LiquidPlanner is a transformative project management solution that uses predictive scheduling to dynamically adapt to change and manage uncertainty. It helps teams prioritize, predict and perform with confidence. Rated the best software for complex projects by PC Magazine, smarter planning – and smarter prioritization improvements – is a click away. FREE TRIAL