What is a project priority matrix?
The Project Priority Matrix is a structured approach to working on what matters most for the project’s’ stakeholders.
A prioritization matrix is a simple tool that provides a way to sort a diverse set of items into an order of importance. It also identifies their relative importance by providing a means for ranking projects (or project requests) based on criteria that are determined to be important.
Main three project elements
The ultimate success of any project is usually determined by meeting the expectations of the customer (whether external or internal) and/or upper management in terms of cost (budget), time (schedule), and performance (scope). The interrelationships between these three project elements are often different for the various project’s stakeholders and can even create tensions and conflicts.
Imagine, the impact that a decision of accomplishing the project at cost (on the budget) on the expense of realizing quality deliverables. Usually, higher performance can lead to higher associated cost. If a Project Manager wishes to reduce the project’s time because he aims at having shorter time-to-market but this would surely have an impact on cost.
Fig 1: Project Management Trade-offs.
How to prioritize the project matrix
One technique that can help manage different project expectations and the resulting trade-offs is the Project Priority Matrix in which for each one of the three project aspects (Cost – Time – Scope) the Project Manager needs to establish which one is accepted, which could be enhanced and which needs to be constrained.
When a criterion is constrained, then it is considered as the affixed parameter for the project. For example, the budget cannot exceed $10,000. When it is enhanced, the criterion can be optimized or improved, like for example when a Hospital sets as its project’s target to increase infection control by a further 10%. If the Hospital Management and the people working on this project reach a result where the Hospital can increase infection control by a further 12%, then that is the desired outcome. Finally, if a criterion is to be accepted, then the project stakeholders have agreed that it is OK not to meet the original Project parameters. When the project’s team decides that they can “miss” or “skip” the pre-fixed deadline, then they have accepted.
A Project Priority Matrix therefore helps prioritize complex or unclear issues when there are multiple criteria for determining importance it facilitates reaching agreement on priorities and key issues between many people working on the project and reaching common agreement on what is important?
The example of project priority matrix with iPhone X
It is interesting to examine closely how Apple could have handled the Project Priority Matrix of its flagship new Smartphone the iPhone X. Let’s take each project criterion one by one and try to establish the Project’s Priority Matrix.
Apple is committed to launching its new iPhone versions each September to take advantage of the new academic season, but not only. Apple has many other products: Apple Watch, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, iPad, and many other innovations that it brings into the market each year. Apple’s biggest reveal.
However remains the iPhone around which a mega event is organized and announced well before it takes place. Many customers are waiting for the new iPhone, Apple creates a buzz around the product and many speculations on what new features it will bring are already on the various blogs and rumors start spreading fast. So it is imperative that the company sticks to its announced deadline, especially that customers will start placing their orders shortly after, manufacturers will start receiving their respective part orders, and the complex chain will be on the move. Therefore, time is a constraint.
We have seen how the new iPhone X is being sold at unprecedented price levels. Obviously, the cost of the smartphone set could exceed what has been predefined at the project’s launch. This is especially true given the marketing policy of Apple to sell its new iPhone at a premium thus targeting customers with higher purchasing power. Apple places itself at the top of innovation technology leaders and underlines this position with new smartphone features that customers are willing to pay for. Therefore, if cost is exceeded is will be accepted.
c. Performance (scope)
The iPhone has long had a reputation of bringing new technologies into the market, cameras, applications, Siri, iOs functionalities and parallel tasking. Therefore, it is needed to keep its leasing marketing position to be ready to enhance the existing features. The established market’s levels of smartphone incorporated features are constantly on the rise, and customer expectations are continuously getting higher, therefore performance has to be enhanced. Look at how this translates in the following Project Priority Matrix.
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