Now and Next—Good, Better and Best

Posted by in Blogs, Ty Kiisel: Strategic Project Management

Few organizations have to struggle to keep people busy. The challenge is keeping people busy working on the right things—which means managing inbound requests and prioritizing work.

It’s not always about separating the good initiatives from the bad. It’s often choosing the best, the initiatives that provide the most business value, from a list of good potential projects. In a perfect world, there are many worthy initiatives that could, and maybe even should, be pursued. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world.

That’s why the “get’er done” mentality is such a problem. Particularly in light of the fact that most teams don’t get to choose the projects they work on. That being said, there are many organizations that do project-based work that don’t have formal processes in place to evaluate potential projects. In those organizations, it’s up to project leaders to step up and ask some pointed questions, “Will this project provide the best value to our organization?” or “Does this ‘drive-by’ project provide enough value that someone should drop what he or she is doing to work on it?” Sometimes the answer will be a definite YES, but there are times when the answer should really be NO.

We rely on a lot of established best practice to help us manage projects and other work effectively. Many of those best practices revolve around the concept of identifying projects that meet certain criteria, creating a plan and then executing on the plan. Most of the time, our focus is centered on creating a plan and execution of the project. I wonder if we ignore the importance of evaluating projects based on merit, prioritizing those that provide the most value and aligning the available manpower to  tackle those at the top of the list (we need to realize that there will be some projects that aren’t possible with the resources we have available).

My grandmother used to say, “Well begun is half done.” I agree.

That critical evaluation stage of the project (that happens before it’s ever assigned to a project manager or a project team) is probably the most important for organizations that want to maximize the value of limited resources and encourage profitability.

It isn’t always the catastrophic failure that causes an organization to falter. It’s often the accumulated weight of a thousand insignificant inefficiencies that cause the most damage. Many times it’s wasting time working on marginally valuable work at the expense of incredibly valuable work. Does your organization spend time evaluating and prioritizing the work your teams do? If not, how do they know that what they are working on now and what’s next is the right work?