A project prioritization framework is a conceptual model, expressed graphically and in narrative form, that defines, explains and facilitates the project prioritization process. Analogous to a road map, a framework is a mental map for guiding thinking about project priorities. The framework specifies the purpose, scope, principles, and assumptions for evaluating, prioritizing and selecting projects, and identifies the sequence of steps for doing so.

Because projects should be prioritized based on benefits and costs, a prioritization framework needs to specify, among other things, the types of benefits that may be claimed for projects and how those benefits may be measured, how project benefits and costs are compared to determine priorities, and how projects are selected to maximize the value of the project portfolio. If you've got an existing project priority system, are you encountering any of these problems?– inability to capture "intangibles," double counting, "funny money" benefits (claims without substance), difficulty attributing benefits to interdependent projects. The problem is an ill-defined project prioritization framework.

Prioritization frameworks are best developed via a framing process conducted in a workshop setting to allow stakeholders to collaborate in the design of the framework, thereby helping to ensure full consideration of issues and build consensus. Formal methods based on decision analysis can be used to avoid the sorts of errors and biases illustrated above. Objectives hierarchies and influence diagrams are used in the decision analytic approach to framing. Once established, the prioritization framework not only establishes an agreed-to logic for evaluating projects, it provides the foundation and specifications for creating a quantitative prioritization model.

See Getting Started.