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Setting Strategic Project Selection Criteria


Quick Summary
Typical strategic categories of project selection criteria, and a guideline for using these categories to screen candidate projects for your organization's portfolio. Designed for use with our companion Strategic Project Prioritization Worksheet.


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What this is

This guideline presents strategic categories of selection criteria and discusses how to systematically develop the appropriate criteria for selecting projects in your particular organization. Portfolio projects are frequently the tactics for delivering on strategies that will accomplish the organization's major goals. This makes it important to assess whether the projects we launch are doing that.

Establishing the value of a project requires an understanding of how the organization measures its success overall. What are its goals? What are the strategies in place to achieve those goals? These goals and strategies yield selection criteria.


Why it's useful

Organizations can take months identifying the criteria used to screen project candidates, in order to assess which projects will be deemed the highest priorities and gain the commitment to launch. It's easy to get lost in the weeds, and spend more time on the criteria than the project assessments.

This guideline is designed to help you develop and enforce a discipline for measuring which projects directly support the unique goals and strategies of your organization. For each project you should ask, "To what degree does this project enable us to reach each goal and each strategy?" Without that laser focus, poorly-selected screening criteria may result in high marks and corresponding effort awarded to the wrong projects. Projects that keep the organization busy and provide some value still may not move the organization toward achieving its overarching strategies and goals.


How to use it

Use this list of frequently used criteria categories to quickly develop a preliminary set of screening criteria and questions to test out the screening concept in your organization.

After you have a set of selection criteria that appears effective, validate them with the executive group ultimately responsible for making the final decisions about approving and launching projects for the portfolio.

About the Author
In 1982, K.C. Yelin founded ICS Group, a management-consulting firm that works with Fortune 100 market leaders to improve business execution. She was president of ICS Group through 1999 and authored their project portfolio management model and project leadership process. K.C.'s early career was in Information Technology, as CIO with the Service Bureau Company, an IBM subsidiary. More recently, she has served on the faculty of the University of Connecticut Graduate School of Business Administration. She currently heads Yelin Associates, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is an advisor to the Project Portfolio Management practice at ICS Group.

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Related Templates
Introduction to Project Portfolio Management 
A presentation template to help you make the case for portfolio management in your organization and explain what it really involves.

Strategic Project Prioritization Worksheet 
Excel worksheet for analyzing and ranking candidate projects based on their contribution to the organization's strategic goals.

Ranked Project List 
Another format for creating a scored and ranked list to aid prioritization for portfolio management and resource allocation, with less emphasis on strategic goals.

Portfolio Data Collection Letter
Sample letter for conducting an inventory of project work proposed or currently underway in the organization.

Opportunity Screening Worksheet 
Worksheet for the management team to evaluate a project's business justification, based on a number of critical factors.





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