multitask or switch projects frequently, then it's time to show management what everyone is doing in a project portfolio. Once you have a portfolio, you can analyze it to see which projects are at which priority.
To build a portfolio, first collect the list of all the work for all the people who are being shuffled from one project to another. Remember, it's the list of project work, ongoing work, periodic work, ad hoc work, and management work.
Organize all that work in a grid, with months across the top and the list of projects down the side. Use the estimated start and end dates for each piece of work, so it's easy to see when you think the work will start and end.
Once you've got the list, try to rank the projects. That means assigning a unique number--1, 2, 3, 4, and so on--to each project. The highest-ranked projects are the most valuable to the organization. Discussing a ranked list with your manager might help you have a more productive conversation than if you just discuss a list of projects.
Qualitatively Evaluate Each Project
If you don't know the value of each piece of work, use these qualitative questions to evaluate them:
- How does this project fit in with all the others?
- What is the strategic reason for this project?
- Is there a tactical gain from completing this project?
- To make this project successful, are we ready to adequately fund it?
- To make this project successful, are we ready to adequately staff it?
- Do we know what success looks like for this project?
Sometimes a qualitative evaluation isn't enough, so you might need to use numbers to evaluate the projects.
Quantitatively Evaluate Each Project
If your managers can determine the strategic and tactical goals for this project, it's time to see if the money you'll spend on the project will gain the organization any return. The return you gain may not be in revenue; it could be in the ability to release products faster. But if there's no quantitative or qualitative return, you and your managers need to decide if this project is worthwhile.
- When will we see any monetary return from this project?
- What's the expected revenue curve for this project?
- What's the expected customer acquisition curve for this project?
- When will we see retention of current customers from this project?
- What's the expected customer growth curve?
- When will we see a reduction in operating costs from this project?
- What's the expected operating cost curve?
Answering these questions isn't easy, but it is necessary.
When your project's problems aren't caused by something you and the team are doing, it's time to dig deeper. If you feel as if you've got whiplash from all the project changes, build a portfolio and discuss it with your management. What have you got to lose?