11 Tips for Effective Business Prioritization
By Jibility Co-Founder Chuen Seet
Successful enterprises understand the importance of prioritization. Business prioritization requires more than creating to-do lists, Gantt charts, SWOT analyses, or quarterly plans.
A successful prioritization plan exists on multiple level – helping business leaders understand the relative impact of each initiative in the context of the overarching strategic vision, while also taking into account the underlying capabilities and actions that will be required to successfully accomplish each objective.
But more than that, successful prioritization should bridge the gap between planning and execution – providing a roadmap that aligns every department and helps an organization ensure they stay on track.
11 Tips for Effective Business Prioritization
While building an effective prioritization plan might sound time intensive, it doesn’t have to be. With a process in place, and with the help of modern strategic planning and prioritization software, business leaders and strategy consultants can quickly and thoroughly prioritize their business initiatives for the next 3 to 5 years in a matter of weeks.
Alternatively, many organizations get stuck in a perpetual cycle of “strategic planning” – with nothing actionable to show from it.
Below are 11 tips for prioritization to make sure your organization avoids the common pitfalls:
Start with a strategic framework.
It’s shocking how many businesses create initiatives out of thin air, prioritizing whims and pet projects, without taking the time to conduct strategic planning. This creates the illusion of productivity, and this approach will certainly keep everybody busy. But this haphazard approach and short-term thinking makes effective prioritization impossible. A strategic framework helps businesses prioritize initiatives based on their long-term strategic vision – avoiding inefficiency, significant opportunity costs, and eventual failure. Failing to invest in strategic planning is why 45% of businesses fail to make it past the 5-year mark and why 65% fail within 10 years.
Find balance between big picture planning and granular considerations.
When it comes to business prioritization, it’s important to strike the right balance between big picture planning and accounting for the granular components that drive a business. Strictly focusing on big picture thinking can lead to prioritizing initiatives that aren’t actionable or grounded in reality. However, getting too caught up in minutiae leads to ineffectuality or a lack of implementation. Striking the right balance is key. Later in this article we’ll discuss the benefits of capability-based planning and how that approach helps business leaders strike the right balance for optimal prioritization.
Be realistic about your challenges.
The idea of prioritization exists because strategic plans must exist within the confines of reality. It’s important to clearly define the challenges that your strategic plan must account for and overcome. Taking the time to fully articulate your business challenges sets your business up for success by helping you avoid potential pitfalls and determine which business objectives need to be prioritized to solve these problems.
Create clearly defined, quantifiable objectives.
Creating business objectives that solve each challenge provides the framework for prioritization down the road. Business objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timebound in order to fully address each business challenge. Doing so will ensure that objectives are relevant with a clearly defined purpose, eventually resulting in initiatives that are more likely to reach implementation.
Utilize capability-based planning.
Capability-based planning enhances prioritization by providing businesses with a holistic, top-down view of their organization. Before forming and prioritizing initiatives, capability-based planning ensures that business leaders take granular considerations into account to make sure that they are investing in the necessary business capabilities to actually accomplish their objectives.
Outline all necessary actions.
Once capabilities have been assessed, the next step is to outline all of the actions that will be required to drive the necessary changes in capabilities in order for the strategic plan to be successful. This is where business prioritization is at its most granular, ensuring that no variables are overlooked.
Create substantiated initiatives.
This process ensures that initiatives are substantiated. In other words, each initiative is clearly linked to overarching organizational goals before they’re prioritized. This makes initiatives purposeful and objective, eliminating arbitrariness and personal bias when it comes time for prioritization.
Prioritize based on relativity vs weighted scores.
When it comes time to map initiatives on a prioritization matrix, each initiative should be prioritized based on relativity. Weighted scores leave room for personal bias and can bog organizations down in unnecessary debates over whether each score is correct. Relativity comparisons, on the other hand, encourage stakeholders to examine initiatives based on a more strategic, big picture approach to business prioritization.
Ruthlessly determine what initiatives should be implemented vs what should be discarded.
Once strategic initiatives have been prioritized relative to other initiatives, it’s time to decide on which initiatives should be included in the implementation plan. It’s important to be a little bit impersonal at this point. No matter how emotionally invested you might be in a given initiative, it comes down to only implementing the initiatives that have the right value while not exposing your organization to unnecessary risks.
Bridge the gap between planning and implementation.
Even the best, most circumspect business prioritization efforts are worthless if they don’t lead to implementation. Capability-based planning ensures that each initiative has all of the necessary requisites for implementation. But organizing prioritized initiatives on a time horizon to generate a strategic roadmap helps make sure that all initiatives are delegated, departments are aligned, and the strategic plan is ready for implementation!
With initiatives and the time horizon clearly defined, now it makes sense to focus on organizing the day-to-day tasks that most people think of when they think about “business prioritization.” The day-to-day is easy to define and prioritize with the big picture documented and firmly in place.
Invest in software to facilitate planning and prioritization.
Finally, in 2023 it doesn’t make sense to try to conduct business prioritization and strategic planning the old-fashioned way. After all, this is an area where so many businesses historically have failed when trying to do things on their own. Business prioritization software like Jibility is free to use, helping you save countless hours, while keeping you organized and allowing you to document (and easily share) your progress – resulting in effective prioritization and providing you with a roadmap for implementation.
How to Get Started
If you’re a business leader or strategist who’s responsible for business prioritization, we encourage you to try Jibility. It’s a free strategic roadmap tool that includes an intuitive step-by-step process for capability-based planning and prioritization. Jibility includes time-saving content libraries, a 2×2 interactive prioritization matrix, cost and benefit estimations, and more, to help you quickly generate a visual strategic roadmap.