How to Empower Your Productivity with Popular Prioritization Approaches
All projects require setting clear priorities. No matter what industry or company you represent, knowing how to prioritize work affects the success of your business and a separate project.
Powerful prioritization positively influences the engagement of your team and your role as an effective leader. Accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis is a challenge for many project managers and team leaders.
To ensure quality results in the process of prioritization, you will definitely need experience and professional skills, like-minded team members, practical methodologies and techniques, as well as a powerful project management software with available frameworks for prioritization and scoring.
In this article, we share our view about how to increase productivity, team collaboration and get great business outcomes with popular prioritization approaches and frameworks.
What is prioritization?
Prioritization is about arranging items or activities in order of importance relative to each other.
How to prioritize daily routine items if everything is #1?
The following steps to prioritizing will assist to workload and hit deadlines effectively:
- Collect all the tasks that you could possibly get done in a day in a list and start to perform them.
- Try to identify urgent and important tasks.
- Assess tasks value and what is most important to your business and company.
- Order tasks by estimated effort.
- Be ready to adapt or change your tasks priorities.
- Cut the unnecessary or nonpriority tasks from your list and focus on the priorities that you know you must/can complete for the day.
If you find it difficult to cope with these simple steps, then you should definitely explore some professional prioritization approaches, which are described below.
Why is it important to master prioritization skills?
Many people believe that a clear and detailed prioritization system is needed mainly for complex technical projects and only project managers can use it freely. Not really.
Awareness of how to prioritize professionally is important and useful for everyone: from students with their simplest work tasks to top managers with the most serious and global objectives.
For example, the ability to prioritize can make your life easier if you are:
- product manager
- project manager
- business owner
- business analyst
- software developer
- construction manager
- professor or teacher
- event manager
- HR manager
- insurance agent, and so on and so forth
Types of prioritization approaches
Today you can find dozens of useful and effective techniques, methodologies and frameworks for prioritizing and evaluating features, ideas and tasks.
Choosing them, you need to clearly understand the objectives and the desired level of depth of the process. In this regard, it is quite appropriate to distinguish 3 groups of different approaches. I define the following groups (with popular examples below):
- Gaming and fun methods for different kinds of groups. They are suitable for both daily lifestyle objectives and working issues.
- Simple prioritization approaches
- Advanced prioritization techniques for complex business aims
Gaming methods for different groups
KJ methodology as a group process for setting priorities helps to come to an objective common agreement from the subjective data. It looks appropriate for groups of any size.
The eight-step process is designed for a one-hour interval. To conduct it, you should have a room with a spacious wall, stickers of several colors, a flipchart for results of prioritization and a facilitator.
- You need to define a focus question. Every session will have its own focus question.
- Then you organize a group with people from the different parts of the company.
- Then you need to put opinions on sticky notes. Place the notes on the wall. Participants should place their sticky notes on the wall in random order.
- Then you group similar items and the facilitator instructs all participants to start grouping similar items in another part of the room.
- Each group should be named, u using the second color of sticky notes.
- All people vote for the most important groups to answer the focus question.
- Then you need to rank the most important groups. All sticky notes should be ordered by the number of votes.
- When a couple of groups have a much higher ranking than the others, the facilitator stops the process. And that is all.
Speedboat prioritization game
This gaming methodology is focused on identifying least-priority product features.
You can get surprising results when you ask your team members to share their complaints about the product. Speedboat is aimed to provide you with a large amount of uncontrolled feedback. And if you ask about the possible optimization ways, you may receive some bright ideas and solutions. To play this game you have to follow the steps:
- Draw a boat on the board. It is assumed that this boat is set to go very fast. Several anchors hold it.
- Imagine that this boat is your product and the anchors are features that have disappointed your clients. Let your clients tag the features that do not suit them and assess how much faster the boat can move without these anchors.
- The anchors and speed rating reflect a measure of “pain”. Your goal is to work on improvements.
This simple gaming method of feature prioritization offers the possibility of sharing one’s complaints.
Simple prioritization methods and matrices
The popular Eisenhower matrix helps to correctly prioritize product tasks and features, distinguish the important from the urgent and not urgent from the least important. It also assists to shorten the time for doing any act that does not lead significant results.
The matrix consists of 4 quadrants with 2 axes – importance and urgency. Actually, many product management platforms such as Hygger, have used this matrix concept to create prioritization frameworks. For example, Value vs Effort matrix.
All product tasks are placed in quadrants, and you have a clear picture of what should be done first. The matrix also gives you the understanding of what should be done in the second turn and what is not worth doing.
Usually, the quadrants look this way:
- Quadrant A: important and urgent issues
- Quadrant B: important but not urgent issues
- Quadrant C: urgent but not important issues
- Quadrant D: not urgent and not important issues
Moscow prioritization technique
MoSCoW Prioritization Method is the approach that is widely used in many areas. It helps to reach consensus among all stakeholders. The name of the method is the acronym, where each consonant letter defines a specific priority:
- M means Must. Here you place the requirements that are critical and must be applied as a matter of priority.
- S means Should. The important but not critical requirements should be placed there. These requirements are not very sensitive to time.
- C means Could. It’s about desirable but not mandatory requirements for your release.
- W means Would. The Would-requirements are not critical or may not correspond to the product strategy at all. They can be ignored.
Advanced prioritization techniques for business
ICE score method is widely used among product and project teams. The method of prioritization is based on the formula that calculates the final score of the feature value:
Using this formula, you may represent your assurance in your evaluation by Confidence. The featured effect on the product is Impact. The easiness of implementation is the Ease.
All project/product managers need is to rate their entire feature request and choose the most valuable ones to implement.
RICE method of prioritization
RICE Scoring is also becoming more and more popular in product teams and companies. The system includes 4 values to evaluate features or ideas:
- Reach helps to rates how many people each feature will effect within a certain period of time.
- Impact shows how the feature will contribute to the product and how will the project impact clients.
- Confidence demonstrates how you are sure about all your estimation – about impact and effort.
- Effort is about a number of “person-months”, weeks or hours, depending on needs. This is the work that one person can do in a month.
According to the method, you rank proposed features with a Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, and use the final score you’ve come up with to decide what should be implemented at first.
If you want to dive into the other powerful prioritization methods and popular approaches, feel free to study Hygger University list.
Whatever approach you take, it is important to implement it with all seriousness. You always have the opportunity to try a simple methodology first, and then move on to more complex techniques and prioritization frameworks. In any case, in everyday life and in management, prioritization is a reliable success factor.