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Prioritizing project work is a challenge experienced by virtually every project manager, in every industry. In enterprise organizations, the difficulties can be especially daunting, given that the project manager may be dealing with hundreds of tasks and sub-tasks, and coordinating the efforts of dozens of internal and external stakeholders.

Despite the challenges, project prioritization must be done. In fact, it may be the single most important job that a project manager needs to do on every project. Here’s a look at some tried and true strategies for prioritizing tasks and communicating project priorities to your team members, vendors and customers.

#1. Meet with your stakeholders before you begin

Before you start the process of project prioritization, schedule some time with senior stakeholders and the team members who will be responsible for major project tasks. Your goal in these meetings should be to understand the strategic importance of the project and the challenges your team might face in completing its assignments. This knowledge will help you with your decision making down the road. For example, if you are faced with choosing between modifying the schedule or leaving a project requirement unfulfilled, you’ll know whether the project deadline is more or less important that meeting the exact project specifications.

#2. Identify and rank each all project tasks

As you build your project plan, you should be doing more than simply dropping project tasks into their slots on the timeline. Make a note of each task’s importance and time sensitivity, so that you and your team members can tell at a glance which tasks should get the primary focus on any given day.

#3. Create accurate duration estimates

This is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you’re managing a project in an unfamiliar field. If you’re not confident that you can estimate task durations on your own, it’s time to adopt the bottom-up approach to project planning, in which you get input from team members and use their expertise to guide you in building task estimates and the overall project schedule.

#4. Share the schedule with the entire team

Once the project plan is complete, make sure that all project stakeholders have access to the schedule and know which tasks are assigned to them. An online project management solution like Clarizen makes this much simpler, and ensures that team members are always looking at the current schedule, rather than relying on potentially outdated information in their email or on paper.

#5. Be prepared for changes

Prioritizing tasks is an ongoing process, even on the best-run projects. New requirements, resource availability challenges and other issues will inevitably pull you away from your initial project plan. However, if you have a structure in place for evaluating and ranking new tasks, and you’ve established a collaborative environment among your team members, you’ll be able to adapt to changes without throwing the entire project off track.

Want to learn more about project prioritization and ways to make your projects more efficient? Discover how Clarizen’s industry-leading project management solutions are helping organizations improve their speed, effectiveness and project outcomes today.

David Goulden
David Goulden, Product Director