Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - The What, Why, and How of Project Scoring and Prioritization

The What, Why, and How of Project Scoring and Prioritization

It's easy to fall down a slippery slope when understanding where to focus your company's resources when it comes to project selection. Everyone wants to have the "good problem" of having too much work to choose from. However, an additional issue can arise: how do you know what to prioritize and what to let go of?

The process of project scoring and prioritization is about defining your team's focus. According to data gathered by Workamajig, a change in project objectives and inadequate vision were the first and fourth top causes of project failure.

A project scoring and prioritization strategy can improve upon these issues. Nevertheless, before you can optimize this concept, it's crucial to understand what these ideas are about. In the next sections, we will address what project scoring is, its importance, and how you can implement it.

What are Project Prioritization and Project Scoring?

Project prioritization (also known as portfolio management) helps you and your teams to maximize project utility. The project prioritization process allows you and your teams to rank a project according to its perceived "value." A specified set of criteria determines this value.

These criteria—and subsequent value—can be different depending on the company. For you, the value may be about how close this new project aligns with a new initiative your company has put forward. For others, it could be more about revenue generation.

The goal is to understand the potential value of a proposed project before taking it on to be prioritized in relation to other assignments. Nevertheless, for prioritization to be successful, project scoring has to be a significant part of the process.

A scoring model in project management includes the action of assigning a numeric value to a project based on selected criteria. This step enables you to rank and prioritize projects so you can use a standard system to organize them. These criteria will likely be related to three categories:

  • Does the project serve a strategic purpose?
  • What monetary value does it provide to the company?
  • How much risk is associated with the project?

You may also want to assess things like: do you have enough labor and resources to take on a specific project and how it fits with the overall brand of your company. Once you have established your specific criteria, you can then create a scoring model to assess each project and rank them with one another.

Understanding the meaning behind these two processes is critical as it can give you a plan for genuinely assessing whether you should take a project on or pass on it. Now that you know what these concepts are, you next need to understand why they are essential and the actual value they bring to your company.

Why Should You Ensure That You Have a Robust Project Scoring and Prioritization Process?

Successfully managing projects is all about maintaining a focus on what's important. As you have likely become well aware, each project comes with its own set of moving parts.

Whether it be ensuring that you have the right amount of labor or the budget to carry it out, it is crucial that you know what you are getting into. Making project prioritization and scoring a priority allows you to maintain focus. It also allows you to create a methodology. According to Wrike, 39 percent of company projects don’t stay in scope without one.

Additionally, it also helps you to better make a case for—or against—a project to your company's leadership. Executives and high-level managers want to understand the odds of a successful project and the steps you would take to prioritize a project over another. Again, these processes allow you to focus on what matters and do away with what doesn't.

It also enables you to clearly define your goals to determine what true "value" is for your company. For example, you may have just started a new marketing campaign that emphasizes using a social media platform like Instagram. You know that this initiative is crucial since it has been the main focus for your marketing teams.

Let's say that an Influencer approaches you to start a new marketing project in the form of a partnership. One of the criteria for whether you would want to take this project on will likely depend on what platform this individual is active on. If they are on Twitter, then this would be outside of your "value" criteria. Therefore, it's easy to reject this project.

In short, it's critical to have standards, and project prioritization and project scoring enable you to set parameters and stick to them.

How Do You Successfully Implement Project Prioritization and Scoring?

How do you effectively implement these two processes into your project management workflow? It isn't as hard as you think. Here are the steps you can take to implement project prioritization and scoring successfully:

  • Receive input from relative stakeholders - One of the first things you want to do is to hear from your stakeholders. They can help you understand any new goals, initiatives, or criteria that you should include in assessing the value of a project. Additionally, you want to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Therefore, set up meetings with vendors, leadership, and any other constituents to determine what you should be thinking about when assessing value. According to Changepoint, 80 percent of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy. This process can help to connect your project management objectives to company needs.
  • Set criteria - This is where you will take the input of others and your teams' observations to set up standards for scoring purposes. Again this criteria should include strategic goals, how likely the project is to be profitable for you (which may include calculations and projections like NPV), and how much risk the project will have you taking on.
  • Determine value - Once the criteria are set, you can then take these attributes and determine the value of current and future projects.
  • Draw a boundary and prioritize - Now that you have an idea of the value, it's time to take this information and start to create a boundary line for what you will and won't accept. This is the ultimate goal for project prioritization and scoring: to quickly and efficiently decide on whether a project is—or isn't—worth it to you.

Final Thoughts

Project prioritization and scoring are essential to adding efficiency to your project management processes. The success of your efforts is tied to streamlining critical processes. Having a system already set to determine if a project is a good idea to take on enables you to quickly and decisively make decisions.

It also allows you to feel confident in the decisions you've made and feel good about presenting projects to your leadership. Lastly, engaging in the prioritization process gives you a quantifiable reason for moving forward with a project, allowing you to effectively compare it to other endeavors.


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