Sometimes, business leaders have a hard time balancing everything the company needs, especially when manpower, resources, and time are limited.

Each department has its own list of projects and ideas to develop, and picking out which of these proposals are worth venturing after is not a walk in the park. It is a rigorous process that involves time to objectively study and decide on.

As most of these ideas could be highly feasible and beneficial for the company, how do you pick out the best ones to execute? Moreover, what are the factors that you need to consider when making these decisions?

In this article, we’ll discuss what a project priority matrix is and what it contributes to the project selection process.

Let’s start.

What is a priority matrix?

A project priority matrix is a significant project management tool that helps businesses save time by keeping them laser-focused on ideas, tasks, processes, and activities that matter most.

Here’s an example of a simple priority matrix:

This simple project priority matrix only has two axes and four quadrants which represents urgency and importance (respectively)

It is a simple tool that sorts projects into an order of importance based on certain criteria.

As it aids in keeping the screening and evaluation of ideas a meticulous process, execution then develops into a clear and specific course. The result? Critical innovation projects remain on track, strategic alignment is observed, and processes are scheduled and performed efficiently.

Why is prioritization important?

Prioritizing the best projects and ideas breeds excellent execution and strategic performance. 

When a business prioritizes efficiency:

1. Resource allocation becomes easy.

The fact is, your company’s resources are limited. When your priorities are undecided, allocating your resources effectively becomes a challenge. Improper resource allocation causes blown-up costs, delivery delays, and project derailment. 

In essence, prioritizing certain projects, tasks, and activities help companies understand when and where to invest their resources.

2. The right projects and ideas are executed.

The best ideas and innovation projects are the ones that support the company’s goals and maximize ROI at the same time. Apply the project prioritization matrix to sharpen out the screening and evaluation process.

With a data-driven prioritization in place, choosing the right projects and ideas will be easier and faster for you.

3. Setbacks and potential losses are minimized.

Executing innovation projects comes with risks. Delayed and pushed back projects are costly, so it is crucial for every organization to weigh and determine every pro and con of an idea.

Effective prioritization involves identifying which projects cost the most and identifying whether current resources can sustain these projects and whether or not they respond to the needs and demands of the company and its customers.

4. Progress can be tracked better.

Focus is established as tasks, projects, and ideas are prioritized. Once prioritizations are made, each activity can be closely monitored from start to finishIdentify what factors you would like to include in measuring and tracking progress.

As each company is different, these metrics and KPIs might vary. Determine what value every idea and project may bring into your organization and figure out whether it is worth the time, energy, money, and effort to venture into.

5. Strategic alignment happens.

Brightline Initiative, a knowledge and networking platform, conducted a survey with over 500 senior executives from different companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more about the problems that they faced in relation to strategic alignment.

Here are the findings:

Findings from the survey that Brightline Initiative ran led to the conclusion that strategic alignment improves business performance

These companies consider at least 20% of their projects to be the “wrong ones”.

Although this number is low, applying the project priority matrix in the selection process can keep companies from executing the wrong projects by including a lot of factors to consider in giving an initial idea a ‘go’-signal.

The majority of senior executives indicated that they failed to meet their goals (90%).

The execution process in itself is a risk. This emphasizes the reason why it is vital for organizations to understand which projects and ideas to prioritize and focus on – to choose those that include and reflect their goals in every aspect.

With these alarming statistics at hand, Brightlight has concluded that strategic alignment improves a company’s business performance by 80%.

Why does the project priorities matrix work?

Innovation projects have different requirements. Some are more urgent than others, which means they may demand more attention than the rest.

1. Creating a priority list enables you to concentrate on what matters most.

It filters out unnecessary tasks and activities so nothing disrupts the execution process. It predominantly enables you to see the bigger picture and identify which innovation projects are more important than others.

Psychologically, this principle is recognized as “selective attention”.

2. It keeps your eyes glued on choosing the best projects and ideas to execute.

Along with your business goals and strategies, a project priority matrix helps you select the best projects and ideas through specific criteria.

It keeps your brain away from exhaustion, the same way that the project priority matrix keeps your organization away from wasting time and resources on projects and ideas with very little value.

3. It keeps your team focused on one project at a time.

Your undivided attention will allow you to perform your tasks and responsibilities well. You will also be able to keep track of the project’s progress closely.

How to Use the Project Priority Matrix

Now that you understand how and why the priority matrix works, it’s time to put this knowledge into action.

Follow these steps to get started.

  1. Determine the objectives: Every product, activity, service, project, or idea begins with an objective. Using this, identify a set of criteria that you want to assess your projects, solutions, or ideas against. Include all the factors that you need to consider in prioritizing these items effectively.
  2. Designate a certain weight to every criterion you’ve listed on the matrix: Determine the level of importance that every criterion has to your organization. Generally, a hundred points are distributed among the criteria, but you can also assign a numerical value to each.
  3. Establish the scoring values: Decide on the basis of your ranking or comparison. There is no right or wrong in assigning scores. Just pick out a model or a scale that best fits your objective. In doing such, remember to keep your matrix simple and easy to navigate, interpret, and understand.
  4. Brainstorm and rate the solutions: It’s time to rate your projects, ideas, activities, or solutions. Gather your desired respondents (customers, team, subject experts, etc) together and let them answer the assessment individually to achieve a relevant and objective standpoint.
  5. Calculate the weighted scores: When everyone’s done, start calculating the weighted scores of every respondent. Usually, how you do this step depends on the type of matrix that you’re using, but in general, the score of every option is multiplied by the related criterion weight to obtain every cumulative score.
  6. Compare the results: Make sure to keep the assessment free from bias. Discuss the disagreements with your team until a unanimous decision is reached. Consolidate the results and establish a list of priorities from it.

Things to Avoid When Using a Project Priority Matrix

There are two major things that you need to avoid in order to keep your project priority matrix highly useful and relevant:

1. Criteria Are Company-Centric

Projects, products, services, and ideas are conceived as solutions to your customers’ problems, so it is natural and crucial for them to be involved in the criteria selection process.

As much as the company’s views and opinions are valuable, keep in mind that it is your customers who purchase your products and services. To add to the success of the execution process, the criteria must be customer-centric instead.

2. Zero Collaboration on Scoring

Again, when deciding on priorities, being customer-focused is key. Collaborating with your stakeholders and other important people on your project priority matrix keeps subjective judgments from making the data unreliable.

Establish a consensus easily by collaborating with your respondents via Accept Mission. This platform allows organizations to collect ideas from different sources and collaborate on them by upvoting, following, scoring, and even getting notified through updates. 

Next steps: Now that you’ve chosen the best ideas and innovation projects to work on, it’s time to develop a solid plan for executing them. Team up with Accept Mission and get everything necessary to start the innovation engine rolling.

Learn more about what Accept Mission has to offer by going on a feature tour.