There are some great techniques available to select and prioritize projects for your organization that will deliver the best results… but that may not be your objective. If you prefer to burn money and waste everyone’s time working on the wrong projects, then here are some ways to accomplish that.
Technique #1: Shotgunning
One common project portfolio management technique involves selecting many, diverse projects. The rationale is that some of them will provide enough benefits to compensate for the others that deliver nothing useful. This diversity is supposed to lower risk, but with the negative side effects of wasting a ton of money on several projects that deliver no noticeable benefits. These low-value projects also serve as a distraction from the projects that will ultimately deliver good returns on investment.
Technique #2: The Funnel
Another common technique involves starting with a large number of project ideas, then running them through waves of progressively deeper analysis and time-consuming review meetings… reducing the numbers at each review gateway until a small number remains for execution. Even after execution, only a fraction of selected projects are often considered truly successful and delivering noticeable benefits… meaning that a lot of time and money was wasted on the analysis, review, and execution of the wrong projects.
Technique #3: The Suggestion Box
Yet another technique that people use to identify potential projects involves accepting random ideas through a physical or virtual “Suggestion Box”. Although this mechanism can create a perception of caring and community, it often does little to generate valuable project ideas that would provide a measureable improvement to the business. Project ideas that you pull from a suggestion box often have little-to-no alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives or address work process or product improvement opportunities… and the few that DO are lost in the haystack.
Technique #4: Voice of the Customer
The concept of “Voice of the Customer” exercises often appears to be quite promising on the surface; after all, who better to provide end product feedback and ideas than the customer for whom they’re intended? Although this exercise can create a perception of openness and customer collaboration, it often results in a plethora of desired solutions, specifications, benefits, or basic ‘wants’ — rather than projects that will make a noticeable difference — because the customer is not properly guided through a process of job decomposition and analysis.
Technique #5: Unstructured Brainstorming
Who doesn’t love a good group brainstorming session? Although it may provide the feeling of openness, team collaboration, and excitement for the participants, an unstructured brainstorming exercise seldom produces a tight list of actionable, value-packed projects. Instead, these sessions often result in a large list of unfocused or irrelevant project ideas with no effective method of evaluation. This occurs because managers cannot properly direct employees’ creative energy, and “success” is often measured by the quantity, rather than the quality of ideas.
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