Prioritizing Which Projects to Review

Prioritizing Which Projects to Review

Assuming you only have a few minutes to answer the question "how are my projects doing?" this is aimed at helping you prioritize the most important information to look at.

<< Back to Project Insights

Whether your top-level work is at the initiative or epic level, the guiding questions are the same:

  • What are our top priorities?
  • What is most at risk?
  • What is most outdated?
  • What has the least progress?

We'll go through a few examples of each but often you will need to use a combination of all the above to properly prioritize where to dig a little deeper.

What are our top priorities?

There are a few ways to judge priority. If your company has a Velma executive view, this means your teams have aligned on what those top priorities are, and the executive view is a summary of those - so this would be the very first place to go. If you're using the summary dashboard, there are also a few ways you can assess priority with the set levels as well as the progress. All these strategies make sure that you're always viewing the most important work at the very top and then can work your way down, depending on how much time you have.

The Executive Summary View

In the example below, the top priority is how the project status and progress line up to the top 3 "Big Rocks" at the organization. If there's a particular Big Rock at risk or off track, the highest priority would be to click into that big rock and see how to correct the work at risk. If less work looks like it's getting picked up or completed as it should, that would be an important item to click into as well. Sometimes companies choose to organize their priorities by team, "themes", or other categories.

Below this, you can see also see the "High Priority Projects" - this includes details on the top priority projects across the company regardless of which "big rock" it may fall under. This gives you an instant read on the latest developments on the critical projects.

By Priority

If you don't have an executive view, your teams may already be using the "Priority" field within Jira to signal what they view as the top priorities. Within the Velma platform, all work is first organized by priority in order to bubble up the most important information first.

In this example, you can see that this team uses multiple different priority levels to signify importance. So the best way to review the projects is by first focusing on the top 4 epics in the list, since they signal Critical and High importance.

By Progress

Within each priority level, we also order by percent completion / in progress. So this will help you understand how the teams are prioritizing work in practice, because the epics or initiatives with the most percent complete will be at the very top.

What is most at risk?

Another way to prioritize is to focus on what projects are the MOST at risk. Some teams have structured their reporting specifically to capture this information.

For example, you can see everything the team has reported as "At Risk" or "Off Track" at the very top, and then everything that Velma has flagged as potentially "Off Track" in the section below.

If you don't have a dedicated view, you can easily see similar information within the Dashboard. The team reported status columns are grey and to the left of the Velma Insights "Project Status" column that's in blue on the right. You can use this to compare and prioritize the most important work to look at. Often, people care the MOST about projects where the team has not reported a status or has reported an "On Track" status, but Velma is dedicating that it may become "At Risk" or "Off Track" soon.

You can also use the filters to drill down specifically into just the "At Risk" and "Off Track" statuses, whether they're team-reported or Velma flagged

What is most outdated?

In the filter, I can easily select what timeframe I want to see changes from, anywhere from 1 day to months. The most useful for me when I'm looking for outdated projects, is to choose an option anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks.

Then, you should see all changes that happened in the selected period of time. Based on the fields that changed, you can decide whether the updates you're seeing are outdated. If this is the case, then this is a good project to drill-down further into to understand timelines, risk, current work, and potentially chat further with the team.

If you're having trouble seeing the "Changes" column, make sure Velma Insights are on by going to Options > Show Insights. Then, make sure you scroll all the way to the right in the dashboard, because it currently appears at the last column in Blue.

What has the least progress?

As mentioned within the "What are the top priorities?" section - Velma orders projects first by priority and then by progress completed. Use this to determine what is being worked on MOST (at the very top) as well as what is being worked on LEAST by going to the very bottom.

An important check here is to ask:

  • Are the projects being worked on MOST / most complete our top priorities? 
  • Are there any high priority projects or deadlines associated with projects that have no work associated or are being worked on LEAST?

This is then an important opportunity to dig in a little deeper and perhaps re-adjust priorities.