Business Opportunity Matrix – Prioritising projects

istock_000000201434small1Many of us are familiar with the old adage ‘Too much to do and to little time to do it’.

So many organisations try to do too many things at once and as a consequence very little actually gets done. I recently worked with a company who had so many projects on the boil at once, staff were working extremely long hours. Stress levels were on the increase as little progress was visible in actual business performance. Lots of activities were taking place which short term made people feel good. However over the longer term people felt stressed as they could not see the fruits of their labours.

On closer inspection there appeared to be little focus on the relative impact on the business alongside the ease of implementation of each project. Time was being spent on projects that were difficult to implement (long time frame) with a relatively low impact to the business. Consequently this was starving other potentially successful projects of valuable resources and time.

In meeting with the senior management team I asked them to spend some time together and come to a decision to cut the project numbers by half. I wanted to know which projects should be closed or mothballed to ensure that the projects that would best serve the companies interests would be given priority.

I observed the group debating which projects should be kept and which should be culled/mothballed. The debate raged on for some time  around size, complexity, cash, skills, forecasts, IT, resources, commitment etc. After an hour we were still some distance from the target to reduce the number of projects by half.

Shortly afterwards I asked them to look at each project from two points of view.

The first point of view was to allocate a value on the relative business impact of each of the projects.

The second point of view was to allocate a value against the scale for the ease of implementation of the project.

I then asked them to plot the results on the business opportunity matrix below.

business-opportunity-matrix2

Within the hour all the projects were plotted on the opportunity matrix. From this point on the team could easily agree on which projects needed to be given priority and which projects could be shelved.

Interestingly, there was some surprise, even shock at the number of  live projects that were in the easy street and leave alone quadrant. In which quadrants would your projects fall into?

Should you have any questions on the use of the matrix please ask and I will reply as soon as I can.