How to Make Your Project a Priority

How to Make Your Project a Priority

How to Make Your Project a Priority
  How to Make Your Project a Priority 

The reality in many organizations is that sponsors and stakeholders kick off projects… and then the day job gets in the way. Or competing priorities take over, such as other projects that are just that little bit more important or interesting than yours. Your project suddenly finds itself sliding down the priority list and guess what? No one sent you the memo.  Whatever the reason for a decline in interest, it’s important as a project manager to keep leadership on your side working for you and the project. 
This means making your project their priority. Read on for tips on how to keep your project top-of-mind.  You may have experienced this all-too-familiar scenario:  “Have you read my project report yet? We’re still waiting on sign off for the requirements, so if you could…”  No, I haven’t got around to it yet. Some other stuff is taking priority right now, and I really don’t have the time.”  This conversation – and others along the same lines – happens every day in the corridors of offices where project managers work. I have heard it many times, and I’m sure you have too. You might even have been the one asking the question, and going away disappointed. 

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When you’re thinking about how to schedule project resources, you don’t expect the most important resources to lose interest in your project halfway through. In fact, when time is money, you’d expect senior leadership to be the most committed to the project, as they likely put significant effort into the business case and have the most to gain from a successful implementation.

Another common situation is one where you are working on a mandatory project, say, something to do with legal or regulatory changes. There’s the interest and buy-in at the beginning because there is lots of pressure from senior management to get the thing started. But as soon as management can convince themselves that something is happening to address the issue, the people lower down the food chain start to slow down the effort. After all, being told you have to work on something isn’t the most compelling way to motivate your staff, and they all have day jobs and other priorities too.
So what do you do to re-focus important project leaders on your project?  “What’s In It For Me”?  What’s In It For Me (or WIIFM) is the major factor to bear in mind when you are trying to keep others interested in your projects. If people know why they should be involved with your project then they are more likely to stay involved. People are generally self-centered (and I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s just how we are programmed). So if you can show them that there are personal benefits to being involved in your project then you’ll start to see the interest levels tick up again.  
There are three different WIIFM points that you can focus on:

WIIFM for the company

Explain the overall benefits of the project and how the company will benefit and grow from the investment they have already made. Demonstrate the benefits that were in the business case, items such as more sales, better customer satisfaction scores, more repeat customers, etc.

WIIFM for the team

Some projects have team benefits. Show how you’ll save time on a particular process or you’ll be able to process more orders, or you’ll have mobile-enabled software so hand-offs between people are easier. The company benefits often filter down into team benefits so you should be able to demonstrate a direct, operational link.
WIIFM for the individual  Explaining where the individual will benefit from your project is where you should target much of your effort. Most people will respond to company and team benefits, but everyone likes to know how their life will be personally enriched as a result of your project. Show how being involved in this project will provide resumé-enhancing career benefits such as on-the-job training, t
he opportunity to travel for external training or conferences, the chance to work with new people, the opportunity for a temporary re-assignment. Some of the team benefits will also apply here: there might be less time spent on admin as a result of your project, or the opportunity for flexible working due to web software, or a bonus because of increased sales.  Think creatively about all these areas and you’ll find lots of unstated benefits that have never been mentioned in the business case.

Show Value Early  
If you are working on a long project then there’s a risk that people lose interest solely because you aren’t delivering anything right now. That’s the case on projects with a long requirements-gathering and build phase: you might not have anything to show for your work for some time.  If you can, and you are expecting interest to drop off, it’s better to work in a more agile way. Build your project deliverables incrementally. Look at what you can deliver quickly and focus on that, adding in more functionality later. 
Quick wins help keep the interest of stakeholders.  Showing project analytics is a great way to demonstrate the successes you’re making along the way. Bring project dashboards to demonstrate progress against a baseline goal or how deep into the project phase the team is at a particular point.

Be Great  Finally, be a dream to work with. Make it so that everyone wants to be on your project because you are so well organized and professional, but you still make it fun. If you are nice to be around, and your projects feel well-structured and secure, then you’ll find people are more willing to be part of your team and will stay interested for longer. Make their lives easier by providing the right project reports and by sorting out scheduling problems. Fix their issues and they’ll stick with you because they know you’ll help them achieve something.
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The Author: Ala'a Elbeheri
                                          Ala'a Elbeheri

A versatile and highly accomplished senior certified IT risk management Advisor and Senior IT Lead Auditor with over 20 years of progressive experience in all domains of ICT. 
 • Program and portfolio management, complex project management, and service delivery, and client relationship management.     
• Capable of providing invaluable information while making key strategic decisions and spearheading customer-centric projects in IT/ICT in diverse sectors.    
• Displays strong business and commercial acumen and delivers cost-effective solutions contributing to financial and operational business growth in international working environments.      
• Fluent in oral and written English, German, and Arabic with an Professional knowledge of French.  
• Energetic and dynamic relishes challenges and demonstrates in-depth analytical and strategic ability to facilitate operational and procedural planning.  
• Fully conversant with industry standards, with a consistent track record in delivering cost-effective strategic solutions.    
• Strong people skills, with proven ability to build successful, cohesive teams and interact well with individuals across all levels of the business. Committed to promoting the ongoing development of IT skills  throughout an organization

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