HiveWise Use Case: Prioritization

How many times have you been faced with a situation similar to these?

  • Projects: The technology team is over-loaded with project requests from around the company and must focus on the ones that will drive the most value.
  • Partners: Your business development team realizes they are spread too thin trying to manage too many partners and need to focus their resources on the relationships that will generate the most revenue.
  • Budgets: The R&D team must evaluate a range of promising new initiatives to ensure they direct their limited budget toward the potential innovations that will make the most business impact.

In their own way, each challenge is simply a matter of prioritization – one with significant consequences. Handled poorly, these teams run the risk of mis-allocating resources and missing multi-million dollar opportunities. Just as damaging, they could jeopardize key internal and external relationships with ramifications far beyond the scope of this specific decision. With this much at stake, how can you be sure to get it right?

Keys to Success

  • Review Past Projects. Unless you are working for a new startup, you are most likely not the first to face such a challenge in your organization. Key insights (stakeholders to involve, data to use, criteria to select, etc) can be gained by reviewing similar decisions from the past. 
  • Clearly Define The Process Upfront. A clear workflow will not only keep everyone on track and focused, but will go a long way toward establishing trust that the final decision is the result of a fair and comprehensive process.
  • Standardize Criteria & Rating Scheme. Organize stakeholder feedback by selecting 2-5 criteria that reflect the priorities that need to be achieved. These priorities/criteria can be weighted as not all need to be of equal importance. In addition, it can be even more valuable to structure the ratings for each criteria. For instance, let’s say one criteria is “expected annual revenue”.  If a stakeholder gives you a “high” rating on this criteria, it may still be unclear if that “high” rating meant $5M in revenue or $50M. In these cases, specifying what different ratings should mean will result in greater clarity of input. 
  • Gather All Stakeholder Perspectives. Selecting stakeholders is a key success factor. Many times, many people (sometimes inside and outside the company) have a vested interest in the outcome of prioritization decision. In order to gain their support, it’s very helpful to make them part of the process. Furthermore, you may need to include a range of subject matter experts that provide assessments specific to certain requirements. Know that not all stakeholders need to be weighted the same for all topic or criteria.
  • Clearly Communicate Decisions In Context. Once feedback is reviewed and decisions are made, it’s very important to share the results of this process in the context of the rationale. Clearly showing the input from stakeholders and how that feedback is clearly connected to the final selection has proven to be highly effective in gaining alignment.

Best Practices In Action

Let’s return to one of the real business situations at the beginning of the article. For the tech team inundated with project requests, it was actually more than 60 requests that needed to be narrowed down to the top three. Let’s see how they were able to use HiveWise to successfully navigate the challenge.

Contributors were divided into three major categories.

  • Core Team. This small group used HiveWise to finalize the workflow upfront, creating a custom HiveWise template including criteria and a rating system.
  • Project Requestors. This much larger group included between 2-4 people per project request to ensure the quality of both business and technical evaluation. From their initial review using the HiveWise survey system, the core team was able to narrow the list from 60 down to the top 10 most promising projects.
  • Executive Team. This team used HiveWise reporting to review the input (both quantitative and qualitative) from the project requestors and then provided their own assessments using the survey system. The core team presented the final results in the context of workflow and input from all stakeholders. The final three projects were approved and the decision + process was communicated to all stakeholders. 

A review of this initiative concluded on several takeaways:

  • Time saved. It would have been impossibly labor intensive to provide a full review of all 60 projects using more traditional methods. By enabling stakeholders to share their evaluations against standard criteria – and add arguments supporting those ratings – It enabled the team to create a short list very quickly. Similarly the executive team was able to finalize and share their decision efficiently.
  • All stakeholders were included. It’s a hard thing to tell people no. It’s harder still if the person you’re talking to doesn’t believe you’ve given them a fair chance to advocate for their idea. A key win here was the ability to efficiently involve all of the right people at the right time.
  • Understanding of the process was key. From the beginning, this process was clear on it’s workflow and rationale. In effect, the framework created equal “rules of the game” that stakeholders were able to understand and accept.
  • The process is repeatable. Due to the success of dealing with a potentially long and political challenge, the executive team decided to standardize on this process for similar project prioritization in the future. This will create an archive of similar projects for use as reference and learning.

What are the major prioritization issues you and your teams are facing now? Whether it’s focusing your team’s resources or allocating budget, these decisions matter. Let’s discuss how HiveWise can help you leverage these best practices to make better decisions that are grounded in rationale, save time, and build (instead of jeopardize) relationships with your key stakeholders. 

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