Mandatory is automatically 'strategically relevant' but...
Assessing a project’s strategic relevance and contribution is actually the second question you need to ask when prioritizing a project. The first question is, “Is this mandatory?”
A project is only “Mandatory” if it is required for legal or regulatory reasons.
Replacing a system that is going out of support may be an imperative but is not mandatory.
Mandatory projects are automatically strategically relevant as remaining legal and in compliance with all laws and regulations is a basic (even if unstated) operational imperative. You don’t therefore have to ‘score’ a mandatory project’s strategic contribution—it is strategically relevant.
Mandatory projects are often not what you want to do but what you have to do. Therefore you have two options:
- Use the opportunity to extend the required compliance project to achieve some further benefits, or
- Comply at the least practical cost.
Take the opportunity
If the decision is made to extend the project from mere compliance so as to generate additional value, then this additional value must be scored for its strategic relevance and net value. Just because you can use this opportunity to …(whatever) does not mean it is a worthwhile investment.
The additional value of this additional cost needs to be identified and justified.
Least practical cost
Alternatively you can decide to comply at the least practical cost. Here the project needs to justify that what it is being proposed IS the least practical cost.
For example, a bank seeking to meet the US Government’s demand for details of overseas US citizens’ banking details was given a quote by IT of $5 million to automate the required reporting. But when the actual workload and numbers involved were assessed, the solution of employing a temp for three-days a month to download and format a spreadsheet to be sent to the US was found to be highly practical, very low cost albeit not very sophisticated.
Treatment of ‘mandatory’ projects
Your prioritization process needs to limit ‘mandatory’ projects to only those that are truly mandatory; and then ensure they are being delivered for the least practical cost or, if being extended, the relevance and value of the additions passes the usual prioritization tests.
Mandatory prioritization assessment
How does your prioritization process
- Define ‘mandatory’ projects?
- Differentiate between basic compliance and the use of the requirement to extend the project?
- Assess ‘mandatory’ projects – or do they bypass all of the normal evaluation criteria?
Too often Mandatory projects get a free ride through the prioritization process. The only criterion a Mandatory project should bypass is the Strategic Contribution Assessment.