February 10, 2020

5 Tips for Setting Project Priorities

Setting Project Priorities

Setting priorities is easy, right? Some things are more important than others, some are more urgent than others, you do those, the others look after themselves, the project completes under budget, and on time.


Why not? What can be so hard about project management and task execution?

There are almost as many people in the business community selling software and courses in time and project management as there are selling weight loss programs. (A good book on the subject is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen).

That’s gotta mean it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I mean, it would be easy to complete a project if tasks were identified, priorities set, and then nothing changed until the project was complete.

Things change. You identify new tasks. Existing priorities change. Someone gets sick. A new “urgent” job rushes in. It’s what happens.

And when it does, we’re here to help. Here are some tips to get on top of your workload, and if you’ve tried them all and you’re still buried, you might appreciate our “Engineers on Tap” service. We can get involved in your projects from within your office, helping drafting and engineering teams get the deliverables out on time.


Chaos Is Order in An Engineering Office!

As project managers and leaders, one of the biggest challenges we face is accurately prioritising the work that matters, every day.

TIP #1 – List ALL your tasks

My wife Ann & I built a house once. We did a lot of the manual work ourselves. We had a list on the wall of all the things we needed to do. At the end of a hot and sweaty day, covered in Gyprock dust, we’d crawl over to the list with a highlighter, poised to mark an accomplished task as complete, AND IT WASN’T THERE!

If you don’t list all the tasks required on all of your projects, it’s a no-brainer that your workload will go awry. Besides, a “Done List” is more satisfying than a “To-Do List”.

List your tasks, but also rank them. What’s most important? Which is more urgent?


Don’t forget the difference between tasks and projects. I wrote about that in a recent blog. Too often, we list projects instead and then run out of time and resources trying to complete them.

TIP #2 – Get the Priorities Clear

You need someone (the engineering manager) to look at the portfolio of work and prioritise the projects. Each project needs to have a clear ranking so that everyone understands where it fits in the grand scheme of things. All projects can’t have #1 rank. If you have ten projects, you need to have ten rankings. Get that sorted!

TIP #3 – Respect the Rankings

It means if someone tries to pull your resources on to another project, and that project is less important than yours, you have that ranking to back you up, and you say no!

The flipside is if another project is higher in ranking than yours, you give up your resource for the greater good!

TIP #4 – Know Your Available Resources

You need to know what each team member has on their plate, what the priority of their tasks are, and when they need to be done. Then you’ll know if there’s any spare capacity.

TIP #5 – Set Your Dependencies

All projects will require certain tasks to be completed before others can start. If you create tasks with dependencies, people won’t be wasting time on tasks that can’t be done efficiently. Each person waiting on another will also become an advocate for getting things done, making the whole team drive the project forward.



If you apply these 5 tips you will discover more time to complete more tasks (increase revenue) or use less resources (decrease expenses) resulting in an increase in net profit.

Create a system and use the tools and software that works for your whole team.

How Can We Help?

Many of our clients struggle through their workload and only send out packages of clearly defined, clear-cut work. The rest they do in-house, often at the detriment of poor quality, late in the evening.

We provide a service on a monthly subscription that frees you from the burden and enables us to work alongside you to win, execute and deliver high-quality engineering solutions. We call this service Engineers on Tap. You have an engineer working in your office and ours, plus access to the whole team, our software, insurance, quality control and certification by me – a registered and chartered professional engineer with over 30 years experience. Click the logo to find out more, or call us now on (08) 9380-9365

Have a Project that You Want to Discuss?

Book a meeting with us and we will assist you with the structural design and analysis of your structure to help you produce a structure that is fit-for-purpose and capable of resisting all applied loads without failure during its intended life.

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