During a major digital transformation, how do you prioritize projects without playing favorites?

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CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Sometimes you have a project to do for one business leader and then, suddenly, a second business leader will jump in and say, "I could really use that too." In terms of prioritization, you start to get this dovetailing effect, and the project turns out to be a higher priority than we gave it because it can be shared across multiple business units. I always strive to find the one or two projects like that in the queue. If I could show value for a number of different organizational groups or global business units, that would get everybody to back off, to a certain extent. And it also helped me increase the budgets for these programs. I don't know if that is the effect of a PMO, but everybody would be on board. At that point you can also start to show the feature and function of a type of software that does spread across the group, particularly things like CRMs, or supply chain management (SCM) systems.
CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
It helps if you can find projects that will serve multiple business units. There was one project in particular that was raised by one function, and when we looked at it in more detail we found a whole load of aspects that suited four different functions. That can take a project from being a low-priority to a very high-priority because of the actual impact it will have. Supply chain management is a great example. Some of those supply-chain projects can impact engineering, marketing, quality-control, logistics and procurement. But you could also get into a situation where different groups have entirely different P&Ls, and you’re trying to prioritize but everybody's got their own cash number they have to hit and is competing for resources.
CIO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Whatever someone is trying to do in their area, I always like to put it in the context of the business process. For instance, we had billing issues that the finance guys wanted to fix. But I don't want to call it the billing project, I want to call it part of quote-to-cash to connect it to the end flow. That’s because I can't solve it just there, I need to solve it upstream too. And it also captures the idea that when we make any part of quote-to-cash better, we help everybody in that flow. Everybody who is a participant in that flow benefits from any improvement made anywhere in the chain.
2 1 Reply
Director of IT in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

I absolutely agree. I'm trying to convince my peers that we need to start talking in quote-to-cash speak, because each of us owns a piece of that. In order for us to solve a lot of our ERP and billing challenges we have to go all the way upstream. So we’re trying to figure out how to help our business partners visualize why that is important and how it's interconnected. It’s not just an ERP issue, because there are things that we have to solve upstream in the business process too. When I'm unwinding things, I often have to say, "We built this way because you have a business process that doesn't make a lot of sense given where we are today. It made sense three years ago, but we have to take a look at this entire thing before it will be worthwhile to invest in fixing this small piece. If we don’t, it is just going to perpetuate and persist."

Board Member in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
At one of the organizations that I joined, within a month I had a list of 89 projects they wanted me to do. In a management meeting with the CEO and the other function heads, I displayed the list and said, "Help me prioritize. We can't do all of these. We don't have the capacity, the money, or the organization bandwidth to manage it."

Once you start prioritizing together, you are not playing favorites because you are letting the business decide. And when there's a conflict, the CEO pitches in to decide what is more important. That approach worked for us in about nine out of ten cases. There will always be that one power center within the organization who will be heard irrespective of whether their project is a priority or not. But sanity prevailed in most cases. 

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