IT Leadership: Best Practices for Prioritizing IT Projects

Prioritizing projects is a key responsibility for an IT leader. How you select and schedule your IT priorities is critical to your organization’s success. With limited staff and continuous requests from stakeholders, an IT leader is regularly making tradeoffs on what needs to get done and what is optional.

What are some of the best practices for prioritizing IT projects and making sure what needs to get done does?

Best Practices for Prioritizing IT Projects

According to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article on prioritization the risk profile of the deciding executives plays a major role in how an organization can identify priorities and execute. 

Risk averse leaders shy away from deciding on or limiting priorities because of uncertainty. Because they are uncertain of the impact of choosing one option over the other they keep all options on the table. Refusing to choose stalls organizational progress because teams don’t have direction or know where to focus. They will choose to be reactive, putting out the fire of the day instead of being intentional on completing long-term goals.

On the other hand, risk tolerant leaders will select and order priorities understanding that their team requires clarity. Teams that are clear on what needs to get done and when, will organize their work around assigned priorities because they know what is expected of them. The article goes on to say that leaders who understand the broader purpose of their team and the organization will have the context to set priorities and will be more successful.


As you review the list of IT projects that you must prioritize, consider the following:

  • - Do you have a clear idea of the central purpose of IT within your organization?
  • - Is your team a support group within the organization, keeping the lights on so other departments can achieve the company’s important business goals?
  • - Is your team central to your organization’s success, leading projects that leverage new digital capabilities?

Once priorities are clear, focus teams on the most impactful projects to fulfill your purpose. While still important; accomplish less impactful work - whenever possible - using automation and partnerships. Prioritizing well is key to both a leader's and organization's growth.

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