How to Prioritize Your IT Projects

Like in many workplaces, IT businesses tend to have more than one project on their plate. This can sometimes lead to complications, like not knowing which one to start with, overlapping with other departments, or taking on too many projects at once. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways one can avoid these scenarios.

Rank The Importance of Your Tasks

“What should I do first?” “How important is it?” “How soon does it need to be finished?” There are all questions IT teams should ask themselves when deciding what order to tackle their projects. Oftentimes it helps to create an actual ranking system to share with your team, such as low-med-high or a 1-3 (or 1-5) scale.

Invest in Project Prioritization Software

If you’re planning your IT projects without a set template, it may take some time before you’ve developed an efficient system for keeping track of them. Fortunately, there are a number of software programs available that have been literally designed to help companies keep track of their projects and other aspects of their business, such as Track-It! (for help desk needs) and TransparentChoice’s Project Prioritizer.

Leave Politics and Personal Favoritism Out of Decisions

In the majority of IT environments, you are part of a team. For that reason, it is extremely important to not place what you want above the team’s overall goals. Furthermore, do not encourage division among your coworkers, e.g. the choosing of sides—if you see this begin to occur, then take steps to address it immediately.

Decide Your Overall Goals Early

What is your company’s mission? Knowing what your business stands for—as well as what objectives it should strive to reach—will make prioritizing much easier. Before deciding on what projects to approach first, schedule meetings with your coworkers to discuss and decide your company’s raison d’être. Work with your coworkers to establish mantras, goals, and plans—don’t dictate what these things will be. Allowing employees the opportunity to help set objectives will make them more invested in projects and increase the likelihood of their success.

Write, Schedule and Check-In Regularly

One of the major reasons projects fail is lack of follow-through, which is a fairly easy trap to fall into if your employees don’t have a goals and projects list they can look at on a regular basis. For that reason, once you’ve determined the order and methodology of your projects, it is important to write them down and keep them in a place employees can view frequently, such as on a spreadsheet, Google Doc, and so forth. You should also set weekly objectives for each project, which should also be written down, e.g. on a shared online work calendar. Finally, the best way to stay on top of things is to hold regular—even weekly—meetings to track project progress. If a person or group falls behind on a project, don’t chastise or punish, however: simply tell them to complete their objectives by the following meeting, while stressing the importance of doing so.

Don’t Stay on A Sinking Ship

In other words, if a project becomes too unwieldy or hit an insurmountable roadblock (at least in the short term), allow for flexibility in your priorities to switch to other projects, if necessary. There’s no point wasting time—or money, for that matter—in an endeavor that doesn’t look like it will work, or a project that becomes outdated or redundant. Adaptation is critical to every company, IT included, meaning knowing when to “jump ship,” as it were, is important. At the very least, you can simply leave a project on the backburner for the time being; alternately, if you believe it’s still worth pursuing, try consulting people not working on the project directly for a fresh perspective.

Starting to feel less overwhelmed already? In reality, prioritizing IT projects doesn’t need to be that difficult. By planning things ahead, keeping track of where you’re going, establishing ahead of time what’s truly important for your business, and allowing yourself the fluidity to shift projects when necessary can make organizing your endeavors a significantly simpler process. You’ll know you’ve made the right decisions as your customer and employee feedback, as well as your profits, go up.

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