Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Parallel processing in a project team

How important is it to prioritize?

Lets assume we have 4 ideal projects A, B, C, D, and an ideal project team. Each of these projects takes 3 months to complete. They are all equally important. We work on them in parallel. When will the projects be ready? Project A will be ready after 12 months. Project B will be ready in 12 months. Project C will be ready in 12 months. And Project D will be ready in 12 months.

Now, what happens when we prioritize and work on the projects in alphabetical order? When will the projects be ready now? Project A will be ready after 3 months. Project B will be ready after 6 months. Project C will be ready after 9 months. And project D will be ready after 12 months. Everyone except the customer of project D will be better off! Fantastic, isn't it?

Unfortunately, this is not the perception of your customers. Each of them sees a 3 month project and wants it finished in 3 months. The customer in project D does not want to hear "we will start on your project in 9 months". All too often, priorities therefore change. Every month, at a project team review, you will be forced to reprioritize. What is the effect? Project A will be ready after 9 months. Project B will be ready after 10 months. Project C will be ready after 11 months. Project D will be ready after 12 months.

What a waste. Don't fall into this trap. Prioritize, and stick with the choice.

[Image credit: goldstardeputy]