"The good news is that most organizations have their 'wish list'
of projects written down. The bad news is that they have to be
prioritized," says John Sifonis, co-author of the technology best
For parents, here is an all too familiar analogy to demonstrate
our point. Should we take the children to the park, the zoo, a bike
ride or simply sit them in front of the TV? More than likely, the
decision will depend on which initiative will have the biggest impact
on the children while not being too much of parental burden.
Similarly, when building, redesigning or enhancing a company's
intranet, why would you implement a procurement solution that would
only be used by a small percentage of users? In contrast, an online
directory might prove to be easier to implement and produce a far
bigger impact to the organization.
This is where the Project Prioritization Matrix (PPM) can
Ready; Hartman and Sifonis
"The Project Prioritization Matrix is an easy to use tool to
quickly and easily identify those initiatives from a wish list that
offer the highest return for the least effort," Sifonis says.
"Enterprises have more IT-enabled initiatives than they can fund.
At the same time, cost constraints are at an all time high and business
case justifications often pay scant regard to longer-term issues.
Prioritizing initiatives is difficult. It requires a sound
understanding of business priorities and the use of multiple criteria.
Part of that criteria is the nature of the enterprise IT
portfolio—where does a specific initiative fit into the overall
portfolio of investments," says Gartner's Chuck Tucker and Andy
Rowsell-Jones in Getting Priorities Straight.
By plotting your initiatives on the PPM, it becomes apparent which
initiatives need your focus. Typically, the priority is "quick wins."
If something is easy to implement and has a large impact to the
organization, do it, take your praise, use the momentum and move onto
the other priorities (quadrants).
The low-hanging fruit initiatives are also attractive. Implement
some easy applications that may not have an enterprise-wide impact but
may assist a particular function or business unit within organization.
For example, a manager's dashboard (an intranet site or section
dedicated to managers only) may be easy to implement and have a
relatively small impact on the whole enterprise, but may have a large
impact on managers.
Eventually, an organization must also tackle the "must haves" that
are often large implementations that affect the entire
Lastly, the PPM allows you to recognize which projects or
initiatives an organization should avoid—those that are difficult to
implement and offer low impact. By tackling your intranet initiatives
in this manner the project will seem less daunting.
To use a specific example using the human resources (HR) function,
let's look at some HR initiatives plotted on the matrix.
Ready; Hartman and Sifonis
As illustrated, Directory (an online telephone directory of
employee contact information) is a relatively quick win impacting the
entire organization with a relatively easy implementation. Expense
reporting might also be a priority as it fits nicely into the
high-value, upper right hand quadrant of the matrix.
Since online purchasing straddles the "must haves" and "money
pits", this organization might be better off implementing stock
reporting first, as it might give the organization the proof that
online purchasing will in fact have a better impact once the stock
reporting application has been successfully implemented. This, of
course, is a simplified example of prioritization at work.
When conducting this exercise, one must keep in mind the
importance of defining the X and Y axis, "Ease of Implementation" and
"Business Impact." Improper definition of these determinants will lead
to frustration and an unsuccessful endeavor. These determinants must be
tangible and measurable.
For example, under Business Impact, some determinants may consist
of return on investment (ROI), increase in customer satisfaction,
adherence to corporate policy or a defined per cent of cost reductions.
Examples of Ease of Implementation determinants might include ease of
cultural change, resource availability, ease of infrastructure changes,
budget allocation or level of security required.
All of these determinants must be defined in advance, agreed upon
before mapping initiatives to the matrix, and most important, measured
before implementation as a baseline for comparison after
implementation. These determinants must also be weighted so as to
ensure the more important determinants, such as ROI, are adequately
reflected in the exercise. Only then can an unbiased approach be
successful, thereby ensuring the politics of the decision are lessened
So, the next time your kids say "I'm bored," just pull out your
matrix, plot down some initiatives and find your quick wins!
A Senior Internet Business Consultant and a regular writer and
speaker, Carmine Porco is the Vice-President of Prescient
Digital Media. For more information on Prescient’s CMS Blueprint
service, or for a free copy of the white
paper “Finding ROI”, please contact us.