No matter how well you keep a project on track, there will be curve balls that change your priorities. There can be many reasons for changes. Things like changing legislation, client requirements or timelines. Shifting priorities around to meet new demands requires clever planning.

Resources, changing risks and project scope are common challenges for project managers. These can all cause changes to project priorities. There are three types of changes that can cause a shift in project priorities:

  1. Fundamental changes required to meet the project outcomes.
  2. Additions to the project scope approved through an organisational change process. These can be for reasons such as:
    1. responding to changes in the marketplace
    2. new technology or product that can significantly enhance a project’s outcome
    3. new information and knowledge that then requires changes to the project scope.
  3. Changes not part of the original project scope but now requested by the client. These are not vital to achieving the project outcomes.

Here are some ways to handle changing project priorities.

Prioritising changes

To prioritise changes there needs to be a predetermined ranking system. This will help you make objective decisions and minimise rework in the long run.

Leave egos at the door

In a team, there is no place for egos. Do not let them get in the way of delivering a successful project. There is no need for the team to take changing project priorities personally. Leave egos at the door. Projects get cancelled or put on hold for many reasons. It is all a part of being a team player working or an agile organisation. Be glad you had the opportunity. Look at it as experience for the next opportunity that crosses your path.

Use good project management software

When you use good project management software, everyone has a transparent view of how a project is tracking. If you have not changed over to a good system, you may need to consult the experts for advice. Project management software support many projects at a time. Use it as a tool to help plan the way forward when project priorities change.

Stay focused

Do not let changing priorities stress you out. Things may change but you can work out how to still deliver the project on time and on budget. Review the project scope and guidelines in your project management software. This will tell you exactly what you have to do to achieve success. Rely on organisational processes and procedures for change control and risk management. These will help guide you to success.

Communicate changes to senior management

Project changes usually stem from changes to the project scope. This will have a direct impact on the budget and timelines. It is important to let management know the severity of changing priorities and how to mitigate the risks. You may need more human resources, for example, but that will impact the budget. Senior management need to understand the real effects of changing priorities on the project.

Tracking project progress

Use project management software for tracking project progress. This is vital for meeting timelines and helps to handle project changes. You can track milestones, progress to date, important dates, suppliers, team members, contractors and anything else you need for each project. When priorities change, management software gives a clear picture of where you are at and what you need to do moving forward.

All projects will have changing priorities. It is about staying cool and having the right tools to help you handle changing project priorities with success.

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