How to Prioritize your Projects and Initiatives


By Jibility co-founder Chuen Seet


A surprising number of organizations are woefully bad at prioritizing their projects or initiatives.

Less surprisingly, prioritization done well can be the difference between success and failure — which makes it all the more mystifying when so many don’t have a firm handle on prioritization.

Why is this so?

We’ve seen that most organizations are capable of creating a list of projects or initiatives based on a strategic vision or set of goals. However, they then spend insufficient attention on prioritizing these initiatives. Instead, they dive straight into implementation. This will always put the success of the strategic vision at risk.

Evaluating and prioritizing is vital.



Evaluate your Initiatives




Classic Spreadsheets


The go-to evaluation method for many organizations is a simple spreadsheet. There’s nothing wrong with this — but you can easily transform it into something far more visual and quick to interpret.


Example of an Excel template for prioritization



The Prioritization Matrix


A more effective (yet still simple) method for prioritizing initiatives is the two-by-two (2×2) matrix. With the matrix, you plot initiatives into one of the four quadrants by evaluating their value and risk.

The resulting visualization is a far more compelling tool for building consensus and identifying the initiatives that just aren’t quite right.


Example of a 2x2 prioritization matrix for initiatives


Defining Value and Risk




Using value and risk as the evaluation criteria is key to substantiating where initiatives should sit in the list of priorities. However, these are subjective terms.

The complexity of how you evaluate the value and risk of an initiative is up to you, relative to the level of sophistication and accuracy required and effort afforded. Just ensure that you are consistent and apply the same definition of value and risk when evaluating each initiative.



How do you determine an initiative’s value?


The measures of an initiative’s value are usually tied to your organization’s value drivers. Each organization’s value drivers can vary vastly; for example, the value drivers of a non-profit (e.g. saving lives) are very different from those of a publicly listed bank (e.g. shareholder return).

There are too many measures of value to list, but here are three definitions of value which are commonly applied to prioritization of initiatives:


  • Strategic Value

    Assuming your strategic goals are right, then the initiatives most aligned with these will deliver higher value.

  • Customer Value

    The more the initiative increases the value proposition to your customers, the higher the value.

  • Financial Value

    An initiative has more value when it positively impacts the organization’s preferred financial measures, e.g. profit, revenue, margin, cashflow, funds, etc.




How do you determine an initiative’s risk?


There are two common considerations when evaluating an initiative’s risk:


  • Delivery Risk

    The delivery risk of an initiative assesses the potential impact of implementing it based on complexity, effort and cost. At the initial planning stage, this will probably be your best guestimate, as you are unlikely to have a good understanding of the complexity, effort or cost early on.

  • Business Risk

    Business risk takes into account the risk of not implementing an initiative in addition to the risks of implementing it (delivery risk). For example, failing to implement a business change required to meet legislative compliance requirements can be a significant risk to the organization’s licence to operate.



Prioritize the Evaluated Initiatives




Priority Categories


Once you have determined an initiative’s value and risk, you can plot it on the 2×2 in relation to all the other initiatives. The quadrant into which it falls should help to determine the priority for its investment or implementation. To this end, the quadrants are labelled Challenge, Implement, Possible and Reconsider (clockwise from top left).


Categories for prioritizing initiatives or projects



Confirm your Priorities


If you imagine a series of curved bands radiating from the top right corner towards the bottom left corner, then working from left to right and top to bottom is generally the priority order for your initiatives.

With your initiatives thus prioritized in a logical and reasoned manner, you’re in good stead to start planning your implementation to reach your strategic goals.


Example of how to interpret the prioritization matrix


Jibility — the tool for building your prioritization matrix

A Tool for Building your Prioritization Matrix


Jibility is a SaaS product for building strategy roadmaps, of which the prioritization matrix is a key component. Our interactive matrix makes it easy to plot your initiatives and highlight the priorities, with all changes you make flowing through the other steps of the app to keep everything in sync.

Visit the features page for more information.



Sign up for Jibility


The Jibility App is a dedicated visual tool with pre-defined building blocks to assist you in building strategy roadmaps fast. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.

Jibility App

Sign up for Jibility


The Jibility App is a dedicated visual tool with pre-defined building blocks to assist you in building strategy roadmaps fast. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.


Download our free book


Jibility: Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple is your essential guide to the concepts, methods and techniques behind strategy roadmaps. Complete with lively case studies and examples, the book is an easy, engaging read – and best of all, it’s free.

Jibility Book

Download our free book


Jibility: Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple is your essential guide to the concepts, methods and techniques behind strategy roadmaps. Complete with lively case studies and examples, the book is an easy, engaging read – and best of all, it’s free.


Download our free strategy roadmap canvas


The Jibility Canvas is a template designed for creating simple strategy roadmaps by following six steps. The Jibility Canvas is free and available to download now.

Jibility Canvas

Download our free strategy roadmap canvas


The Jibility Canvas is a template designed for creating simple strategy roadmaps by following six steps. The Jibility Canvas is free and available to download now.