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5 min read

A comprehensive guide to project prioritization

Got a lot on your plate? Master the art of project prioritization and empower your teams to focus on impactful tasks so you can achieve success.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

Juggling multiple projects can become overwhelming, hindering company growth and project success. A successful and organized leader knows how to prioritize the tasks that really matter.

We’ll explore effective project prioritization strategies that boost efficiency, clarify decision-making, and help team members and project stakeholders meet deadlines. These techniques will align your team’s efforts with your organization’s strategic objectives.

What is project prioritization? 

Project prioritization identifies high-value, high-impact, and urgent projects so your team can select and execute them first. The process involves reviewing and balancing factors like resource availability, project impact, and due dates. Systematic task prioritization can transform team members’ overloaded schedules and help them consistently deliver work on schedule.  

Why is project prioritization important? 

Learning to prioritize work can boost organizational success and alignment. When you identify and rank high-priority tasks and accomplish those first, you optimize your resource utilization. Here’s why project prioritization is essential:

Improves return on investment (ROI) 

Project prioritization helps companies get more for less by targeting projects that promise the best financial business value. According to McKinsey, organizations that invest in strategic prioritization deliver 40% more value. Prioritization ensures every dollar spent contributes to greater profitability. 

Ensures proper resource allocation 

If you want to maximize your resources, you must allocate them wisely. This project prioritization technique assigns high-priority tasks to your team based on their skill sets, so every hour of work is as productive as possible. Resource management works with your employees’ strengths and helps prevent pitfalls like over-commitment.  

Better project delivery

According to research from the Project Management Institute, picking projects aligned with your company’s strategy makes the projects 57% more likely to succeed and 50% more likely to be completed on time. This makes prioritization just as essential as effective project management and execution when developing a project plan. 

Aligns company mindsets 

Research shows 95% of employees don’t understand how their work fits into their company’s strategy. Effective prioritization helps build a unified vision between stakeholders, project managers, and employees. Clear priorities help teams understand their roles in managing projects and promote strategic alignment on company goals. This promotes accountability, reduces conflicts, boosts cooperation, and improves project flow.

Enhances leadership 

Project prioritization empowers leaders to make informed decisions that guide their teams and resonate with employee capabilities and strategic objectives. When staff works toward a common goal, employees can visualize success and become more productive.  

How to prioritize projects effectively: 6 tips

Effective prioritization improves the well-being of your employees and the outcome of your projects. Here are six proven tips to help you learn to prioritize:  

1. Create a plan and stick to it 

Effective project management requires a clear, actionable plan. Develop and adhere to a roadmap that reflects your strategic objectives and timelines. This will ensure consistency and prevent scope creep, which can derail projects. A plan also helps align team efforts, categorize and delegate tasks, and facilitate more transparent communication. 

2. Improve prioritization with planning intelligence 

Planning intelligence is an adaptable project and task management approach facilitated by Tempo’s project management software, Portfolio Manager. This tool incorporates real-time data and adaptive algorithms to help teams track and respond to priority shifts. Portfolio Manager uses planning intelligence to enable effective sequencing of work and increase productivity.  

3. Use a priority-driven methodology 

Tempo’s Portfolio Manager also uses a priority-driven methodology to align objectives, people, and projects. This project management tool helps you create priority-driven schedules that account for dependencies between tasks. You can also drag and drop projects to reflect shifts in importance and immediately see the impact of those changes in team members’ schedules.   

4. Use a prioritization matrix 

Use a project prioritization matrix or prioritization framework like the Eisenhower Matrix or Moscow Method to decide which tasks come first. The Eisenhower Matrix weighs multiple criteria to visualize which projects should top the master list. The Moscow Method creates a hierarchy of priorities before and during a project.

5. Track progress and manage your team’s time 

Once you’ve prioritized projects, you must carefully track your team’s time to ensure high-priority tasks get the attention they deserve. A robust time management system, such as Timesheets, can encourage employees to track time. Regular reviews will help you manage project progress and adapt to evolving priorities.  

6. Manage priority changes carefully 

You must adapt to priority changes without disrupting project flow. Intelligent project management software lets you easily adjust project timelines and resources in response to unexpected changes.

What are the most common prioritization problems?  

Understanding the common pitfalls of project prioritization helps you streamline your project management processes. Here are the most common prioritization problems and how to address them: 

Staff working on non-priority projects 

Team members can get sidetracked by tasks that seem urgent but are not top priority. Combat this by clearly communicating project priorities and scheduling regular check-ins to keep everyone on the same page. 

Resource contention among multiple projects 

Bottlenecks and delays often arise when multiple projects vie for the same resources. These are common problems in dynamic workplaces where resource demands fluctuate. Avoid them by implementing a resource management tool like Tempo’s Strategic Roadmaps, which creates audience-friendly guides that facilitate resource allocation. 

Uncertainty in handling unplanned requests 

Unforeseen requests can disrupt your project’s planned schedule, so you should allocate a flexible portion of your resources to unexpected tasks. This buffer allows your team to adapt without compromising project progress or quality.  

Unrealistic scheduling 

Project schedules sometimes don’t reflect the team’s capabilities or resource availability. This can create timelines that are difficult or impossible to satisfy. Avoid this by involving experienced managers in planning. They can provide more realistic estimates of the time and effort required, regularly reviewing and adjusting schedules.

Lack of clarity  

Without a clear understanding of project priority, team members may choose tasks based on personal preference or visibility. Establish a formal prioritization process using a prioritization matrix or other tool to clarify which projects need immediate attention and communicate how to sequence the work. 

Prioritize tasks with Tempo 

Effective prioritization helps you align projects with your strategic goals and deliver them on time.

Tempo’s suite of tools will revolutionize how your organization manages and prioritizes work by providing a comprehensive view of resource distribution and timelines. Structure PPM is especially adept at optimizing your workforce across teams, streamlining project execution, efficiently allocating resources, and identifying potential productivity enhancements.