An updated version of a paper first submitted by Trade Press Services, February 2008
© Don J. Wessels.
Published here May 2008.

Introduction | What is Wrong With This Picture? | Project Prioritizing
The Project Ranking Tool | Resource Allocation | Where Has Execution Gone Wrong?
What is Missing in the Total Product Cycle? | Whatever Happened to the Business Case? 
Close the Loop

The Project Ranking Tool

The Project Ranking Tool shown in Figure 1 is a simple and handy tool to start the relative ranking of a project. It lists project selection criteria, developed as an outgrowth of the strategic planning process that the portfolio planning and management team can rate according to importance and influence in achieving strategic goals. A change in corporate strategy or business needs would of course necessitate a review and refinement of the criteria. The worksheet is useful when evaluating new project proposals as well as during program reviews of ongoing programs and projects.

Project Selection Criteria



[W x R]

Customer Satisfaction
Low                                    High




Business Results
Low                                    High




Employee Satisfaction
Low                                    High




Increased Revenue
Low                                    High




Reduced Cost
Low                                    High




Short - Use for 2 Yrs                   Long - Use 4+ Yrs




Size of Investment
Small - $25-100K               Large - > $100K
6 Person Months               12 Person Months




Project Complexity Risk
Relatively Simple               Relatively Complex
Straight Forward               Poorly Understood




New Technology Risk
Proven                              Unproven
S/W H/W                              S/W H/W




Benefit Risk
Known Committed                  Risky Out-Year
Benefits                                 Estimates








Figure 1: Project Ranking Tool [3]

Depending on strategic goals, each enterprise will have its own criteria, and their meaning should be clearly defined. The selection criteria used in the model above, for instance, may be defined as follows:

  • Customer satisfaction: impact of project on external customers
  • Business results: impact of project on strategic goals
  • Employee satisfaction: impact of project on employee retention
  • Revenue: impact of project on increased revenue
  • Cost: low vs. high cost to fund the project
  • Longevity: length of time the enterprise will benefit from the new product or service
  • Size of investment: large vs. small investment risk
  • Project complexity risk: simple vs. complex project
  • New technology risk: proven technology vs. leading edge, unproven technology
  • Benefit risk: risk to realizing projected benefits

Once the project selection committee has reviewed the business case for a project, it can use this worksheet to weight the criteria and rate the proposed project. Note that the ranking scale is 1-10 for the first six criteria and then reverses to 10-1 for the last four. This is because poor scores in the areas of size of investment and risk reduce the value of the project overall. Each individual rater weighs each of the criteria compared with other criteria (in the weight column) and then rates how well the project meets the criteria (in the rating column).

The next steps are to multiply each rating times the weighting to obtain the weighted rating, and to add up all of that person's ratings for all criteria. Finally, add together the scores for all the raters, and divide by the number of individuals to arrive at the overall score. Remember that this tool should be viewed in conjunction with the risk of the project and the risk of the realization of the benefits of the project.

Project Prioritizing  Project Prioritizing

3. © Management Concepts; adapted from Xerox Corporation
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