How to Prioritise Your Project Goals?

Familiar words when working on a new project. Every colleague with an input into the project will see their own deliverable to be the centre of the universe and all work should have been completed in that area yesterday.

This is ok. However, the success of project deliverables will not be as a result of who shouted the loudest to get their portion of the work completed first!

The foundation of project success – especially large and complex projects – will drive from clear and defined priorities. Deciding between the must-haves, the nice to have with a limited pot of money, with a go-live date on the backdrop of an ever-changing business world is no easy task. The biggest challenge for project managers and organisational leaders is accurately prioritising the work that matters that will achieve the overall business strategy.

How to prioritise your project goals

Getting the prioritises right will take time and input from all stakeholders in the business. Project leaders should avoid working in a silo and involve key personal from each department whom the project will have an impact on. No one will get this right the first time. A good project manager and leader will have regular meetings with stakeholders to review priorities and strategies.

We have put together a project tool kit to help to get you started:


Pull together all ideas and desired changes no matter how big or small. You do not need a fancy piece of project management software for this – a simple pen a paper of whiteboard will do the trick!

Must have very nice to have

The next step is to identify with your stakeholders the tasks that must be completed for the project to Go live and the tasks that you can live without until after the project is live.

Assign Priority

Assign priority can be very subjective and with a lot of tasks carrying the same priority how can we assign priority. You can prioritise by effort, complexity, and dependency.
Quick example:

Task: I need the system to automatically email a PO

Task: I need the system to automatically create a PO

Task: I need the system to set a variance for PO approvals

All 3 tasks have been classified as must-haves for Go live, so how do I decide which to prioritise?

Apply dependency, logically the ability to create a PO needs to be in place first so let’s make this task 1.

The project development team has identified that creating email functionality will take minimum time and will not be a complex task. This could be assigned as Task 2.

Developing logical ways to set variances for PO’s approval will require the input of various stakeholders so due to the effort involved you could assign this as task 3.

So based on those measurements we have categorised the tasks as follows:

Task 1: I need the system to automatically create a PO

Task 2: I need the system to automatically email a PO

Task 3: I need the system to set a variance for PO approvals


Lack of communication is often documented to be the biggest result of project failure. When implementing any new changes in the organisation and setting prioritises to achieve.

Have regular meetings with your project team to review priorities and track the progress of each task. Tracking progress can simply involve assigning categories – outstanding, in progress, completed. Larger and more complex projects may allow more categories. Remember to keep these as simple and understood as possible to avoid ambiguity about the project’s health.

As mentioned, it is critical not to operate in a silo when implementing change. Although the entire organisation may not be directly involved in the project, it is highly likely that the changes will impact them directly. Avoid isolation employees, communicate to employees the change that will always happen and be positive about how the changes will improve their day to day jobs.

Make the tough decisions

Stakeholders will all have a shiny wish list of how and what they would like the project to include. As a project leader, it’s important to have a clear understanding of business objectives and how this project will feed into this. You will have a finite budget and time frame to complete so prioritising what is important and excluding what is not is key. This can be easier said than done especially when it is senior members of the organisation that may be getting their wish list cut!

However, explaining your decision based on the points laid out above should bring clarity to those stakeholders.

Read more and find out how to define project success here >