Prioritise: to arrange or do in order of priority

But why do you need to prioritise?

A web project is daunting. From time constraints to pressures from stakeholders, unexpected bottlenecks or even spiralling budgets as a result of missed deadlines or out of scope work, it can feel like a battlefield.

To mitigate the risks, we find our client projects benefit from completing prioritisation exercises to identify the areas key to project success and forming a development plan based on this.

Project timescale is regularly cited to us as the most important factor, but if additional functionality requirements are identified after initial project scope, it’s likely the deadline will need to move as a result.

Sometimes tough choices need making; so, which of your objectives is the most important? Time to prioritise…

Stakeholder Buy-in

Receiving input from multiple stakeholders will identify objectives and features that will benefit many aspects within a business, but they can create project bottlenecks. Setting the expectation from day one of what can realistically be achieved within a timeframe or budget limits the risk of project scope sliding. We know first-hand this means your web agency needs to be open, transparent and often firm. We can’t always deliver the ‘good news’ you want to hear and sometimes that means difficult decisions need to be made by the client.

The Impact of the Discovery Phase

Research and UX phases are likely to unearth requirements which weren’t part of your original scope. This is normal but needs to be managed carefully. This ‘wish list’ can quickly escalate; if the deadline or budget is inflexible you could have an issue. The bigger scope, the more complex the build will be, and this has a knock-on effect on delivery timeframes and cost.

The Simplest Possible Solution

We use User Persona Research and Story Mapping to identify the basic functionality required to fulfil what is known as the MVP – Minimum Viable Product – for a client. The MVP considers the simplest website form that can launch and still achieve core objectives.  

Assessing steps within important user journeys such as registering a new user or completing a checkout process will highlight what functionality is a necessity from the outset. Clients must be strict with themselves and accept that not every feature will be available in the first instance.

Additional enhancements and functionality development not considered essential at this stage can be completed in a later project phase. This maximises customer value yet ensures budgets and timeframes don’t slide.

Prioritising Priorities

Among the many methods used to prioritise project requirements, one of the simplest (which we’re a big fan of) is MoSCoW - Must, Should, Could and Would.

  • Must have this requirement to meet the businesses objectives
  • Should have this requirement however project success doesn’t depend on this
  • Could have this requirement but it won’t impact the project if it’s left out.
  • Would like to revisit this requirement in a later phase of the project.

This exercise is only valuable if you force yourself to prioritise though! It’s no good if every item is considered a “must have”.

Key Takeaways

While all requirements and objectives are important and need to be considered during a web project, more often than not, you can’t have absolutely everything.

If the scope and complexity increases, you need to be prepared to push back deadlines. Applying a process to prioritise tasks allows you to identify which are essential for the project to succeed and those which could be added to a later development phase. At this stage, decisions need to be made. Do we reduce the requirement in order to hit the deadline? Or are we prepared to push the go-live back to can get everything that’s been scoped?

Every project is different but remember, you don’t have to go-live with absolutely everything.