Rebel's Guide to Project Management

Project decision making: a guide for doing it better

Let me tell you about a project decision that was awkward for me — then I’ll share some tips on how to do decision-making better.

We were due to go live with our pilot software launch but things didn’t feel right. We had the go/no go meeting and as I sat in the office, it just felt like we weren’t ready.

My project sponsor was on holiday in Canada. I emailed him, because I wanted to be told that we were making the right decision.

I got a message back: his hotel had burned down . He and his wife escaped with his phone and her jewelry. He sent a photo. It was bad.

That meant the decision was on me. Delaying was the right thing to do, but not an easy choice. We’d been working on this for a year. People were lined up to support the pilot.

Our executive sponsor was sitting in his office; one of those rooms with glass walls. I knocked on his door and explained why no one had heard anything from my boss and what I thought we should do about delaying the launch. He nodded.

Decision taken. We would delay the pilot.

And… breathe.

Taking the decision was the hard part. The easier part is always implementing that decision – after all, isn’t that what project managers do?

As a project manager, you will be used to making multiple decisions on a daily basis. People will rely on you, often several times a day, to provide guidance and to help make important decisions.

Some of those decisions are straightforward. You just decide a path and move on. Other decisions have broader impact and will likely require additional thought and even input from multiple team members and stakeholders.

All of them are part of the project governance framework .

Some of the most common decisions for project managers are related to cost, scope, resources, and schedule.

In the planning phase there are a lot of decisions to make before a project even starts. If I’m being honest, the decisions never really stop.

However, if we make enough good decisions, especially during planning, it can certainly make our lives easier. Who doesn’t want that?

It’s helpful to have a decision-making process or framework to guide you, especially when faced with complex problems that require additional info from others.

Using a framework is important to ensure consistency in how decisions are made, and to help minimize or remove any personal bias around certain solutions or options that might unfairly sway the outcome.

In this article, I will provide more detail on a framework for making better decisions in an effective, rational and ethical way.

Step-by-step decision-making process overview

There are 5 steps in the decision-making process in project management. They are:

  • Identify decision – someone identifies the need for a decision (project manager, project team member, or another stakeholder).
  • Gather information – determine what information is available to help make an effective decision.
  • Evaluate and select option – review available information, potential path forward, and pros / cons of each to determine the preferred option based on agreed criteria.
  • Take action and implement – implement the selected option.
  • Monitor outcome – monitor the impact of the decision on the project.

decision making process

Let’s look at each of those in more detail.

Step 1: Identify

The need for a decision occurs at any time during a project’s lifecycle. The first step is to identify that there is a choice that needs to be made – a problem that needs to be solved or something else you need to take a decision on.

The people who determine the need for a decision can also vary – from project leader, to project team member, to a request from key project stakeholders.

It is worth mentioning that the project manager has the option to delegate decisions to the project team (or specific team members) when appropriate. For example, the project manager may rely on a lead for a specific discipline or project area to help manage routine or day-to-day decisions.

The most common example would be what specific task(s) the project team members will work on each day. However, it is appropriate to set some boundaries for escalation so that the project manager can focus on other project responsibilities but still “step in” to help support as needed.

Once the need for a decision is identified, the project team should start to gather information.

Step 2: Gather Information

The next step is gathering information and that’s exactly what you think it is. The team looks at what information is available to help determine overall project status, give some context for the decision, and use that to help facilitate a good result. 

Some examples of useful information would be:

  • the project’s overall financial status
  • financial targets such as profit margin that are set by the business
  • cost benefit analysis of various options
  • planned versus actual progress for ongoing work
  • root causes, if the choice relates to an issue
  • resource availability on the project and within the available resource pool (if applicable)
  • external factors that might make a difference
  • any other relevant data.

If you don’t know what’s going to be useful think about it this way: what are our options? Silent brainstorming, a SIPOC diagram , or using digital tools like Google Jamboard to put down all the ideas could get the ball rolling.

Tip: Part of the decision-making process is to identify the decision-makers. Sometimes you need to know how to make a group decision ; sometimes you can make the call yourself.

The purpose of gathering the information is to ensure that the decision is based on the most current project state and information. The type of information that is needed may also vary depending on the decision.

For example, if the decision involves vendor selection to help deliver a specific part of the project, then it would be helpful to have a list of relevant vendors, their status on a preferred vendors list, any differences that may exist in pricing, contract terms, or other relevant factors to consider in the selection process.

Tip: You need all the info in order to make an informed decision. Don’t skimp on this step!

Step 3: Evaluate and Select

During this step, the project manager, the project team, or a combination of these discusses all available and relevant information. They may also pull in other subject matter experts and / or stakeholders as needed.

Here are some options to help evaluate the various options you have identified:

  • Team voting. The team can discuss and vote on the various options. This can be done by a secret vote or open team vote. Open option for voting “openly” is to put various options on a flip chart and have team members put sticky notes, stars, or other indicators of the option(s) they believe would be best.
  • Elimination. If there are options that will not work for some reason (example: extremely unfavorable contract terms) then those options might be eliminated.
  • Multiple criteria. Sometimes it is helpful to identify multiple criteria and score the various options across those criteria (perhaps on a scale of 1 – 10) in terms of how much benefit or value they bring to the project. Then the option with the highest composite score would be the most likely choice
  • Decision tree analysis. Some problems lend themselves to this kind of analysis. Create a tree structure with different paths. That can help you see the options available so the team can select the best possible solution.
  • SWOT analysis. I would use this for portfolio or strategic-level decisions, but it’s not something I used regularly for project-level decisions.

Sometimes you’ll want to use a variety of techniques so you can look at a problem from all angles. However, that can extend the time period for actually getting on and doing the work. Ideally, you’ll have documented the decision-making process in the project management plan because it’s relevant to project governance and quality, so hopefully you can look back at that for some guidance on how to keep things moving.

Tip: Avoid dragging out this process over a long time. Failure to decide can block progress – sometimes the best approach is just to choose and move on.

Once the team has completed the discussion and evaluated the various options, one option is usually a clear winner. If that is the case, then that’s the best choice and that option can be implemented.

In some cases, if two or more options are considered equivalent (or close to it) then perhaps additional criteria might be considered. If that is not the case, then some options may be equivalent and other factors like ease of implementing and least impact on the project may also help narrow the selection.

Step 4: Take Action / Implement

Once there is a clear choice, that option can be integrated into the project plan. The team should take necessary action to carry out the decision as described.

In addition to the implementation, there are other steps to take for completeness and adherence to good project management practice.

In general, stakeholders should be kept informed of the different decisions even if they aren’t directly involved in the choice itself. For a more important decision, it is a good idea to send a general communication on the challenge, the outcome, and the rationale for the decision.

Using a Decision Log

To ensure that decisions and outcomes are also properly documented, add them to the Key Decision Log (which you might call the Project Decision Log ). This is the best place to record any critical project decisions that occur during a project’s lifecycle.

If someone, including a project stakeholder, questions a decision later, you can always revisit the decision log to explain what was decided, the relevant context at the time, and who agreed. This is particularly helpful in cases where stakeholders may tend to change their minds.

Keep in mind that the most influential stakeholders may have their own expectations in terms of updates and when they should be involved. It is always a good idea to discuss this at project kickoff to ensure that they are always appropriately informed.

Step 5: Monitor Outcome

Once the best solution is implemented, monitor the impact on the project. For example, if a decision is to add new team members during a project, it would be a good idea to monitor their efficiency and work quality to spot potential issues early (or validate that there is no impact).

Tip: Use this step to learn for next time. What can you take from this experience that will help you on future decisions?

What decisions can you use this process for?

There are several types of decisions you’ll be making on projects.

Programmed and non-programmed decisions

Programmed decisions are the kind you have a formula for: can we approve this request for leave? Do we organize the project board meeting for Tuesday or Friday? There’s a process or a set of norms to follow, even if you can’t predict when the decision will need to be made.

Non-programmed decisions don’t follow the program. They have more variables and are typically more complex. Shall we buy or build? Should we launch these new products or improve these processes first?

Operational and strategic decisions

Some decisions affect the operational running of the project: routine decisions about who gets assigned to which task, for example.

Strategic decisions relate more to the direction the project needs to take. They typically affect the budget, benefits, or key deliverables for the project – and sometimes the project manager doesn’t have the authority to make them. You’ll have to present recommendations for major decisions to the project sponsor or project board, and they will normally make the final decision.

Risk and decision making

Risk management is an exercise in decision-making. Once you’ve identified a risk, you need to come up with a plan to manage it. There’s normally a bunch of ways you can mitigate against a risk, so you need to apply all your analysis skills to make the right choice.

One of the factors in making a choice is risk. If you have online tools and the skills to do it, Monte Carlo simulation can give you a picture of what the impact of any particular course of action will be through risk modeling. I love the idea of it, but I’ve never worked anywhere that has taken a proactive approach to simulation.

Project management software also has decision-based modeling built in to help you see the impact of a choice on project tasks and timelines — if that feature is important to you, choose the a tool that will let you model the outcome of your decisions.

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An ethical model for decision-making

In some cases, a decision may have ethical considerations . You should always be mindful of conflicts of interest, working with other ethical companies, responsible use of company resources, adherence to established company policy, etc.

Some project decisions may even negatively impact others, create bad press for the company, or harm the environment. Although the specifics may vary by project, the ethics of a decision should always be considered.

Skills for decision-making

There are certain skills to help a team make effective decisions. Those skills vary by team member and role. Here’s what I mean:

  • Stakeholder: demonstrate trust by letting teams make decisions independently as often as possible
  • Project manager: provide meeting facilitation, emphatic listening, stakeholder engagement, asking probing questions, using the 5 Whys
  • Team members: provide subject matter expertise.

Making decisions is a normal part of managing projects. Although some decisions may seem complex, you can also rely on input from team members, subject matter experts, and stakeholders.

As decisions get more complex, using a framework or step-by-step guide can make things much easier – and positively influence the project’s success. Once a decision is made, don’t forget to document, tell the relevant people, implement what was agreed, and monitor the outcome.

Your next steps

  • Make sure there is a decision-making process documented in the project management plan (or at least some commentary around how and what to escalate)
  • Download the project decision log template
  • Check out a new technique and try using it on your next decision!

Good luck and happy decision-making!

Pin for later reading

project decision making

Project manager, author, mentor

Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .

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What Is Decision Making in Project Management

Decision-Making in Project Management

You’re about to make a crucial decision for your project. One that could either make it a huge success or a complete failure. How do you feel in this situation?

If you’re like most project managers, you probably feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. You know that every decision you make impacts your project’s outcome significantly. You want to choose the best option but don’t have much time, resources, or information.

This is the reality of decision-making in project management. It’s one of the vital and challenging skills you need to master as a project manager. Whether it’s about picking the right strategy, allocating resources, resolving conflicts, or assessing risks, you have to make decisions that satisfy your stakeholders and align with your goals.

But how do you make effective decisions in project management? How do you balance speed, quality, and stakeholder satisfaction? How do you avoid common mistakes and biases that can cloud your judgment?

The answer is simple: you need a systematic and strategic approach to decision-making.

In this blog, we’re going to show you what decision-making in project management is, why it matters, how to do it right, and what to watch out for. By the end of this blog, you’ll be able to make better decisions for your projects and achieve greater results.

What Is Decision-Making in Project Management?

Decision-making in project management is a dynamic process critical for project success. It involves evaluating alternatives, weighing risks, and making informed choices that steer the project in the right direction.

Effective decision-making empowers project managers to navigate uncertainties, allocate resources efficiently, and overcome challenges head-on.

As a project manager, you need to combine analytical thinking with strategic foresight to make decisions that positively impact your project’s outcome and stakeholder satisfaction. So you have to gather relevant information systematically, select the best approach, use data-driven insights, and implement and monitor your decisions in real time. By doing this, you boost your team and project performance and achieve success with the right decisions!

Now let’s dig deeper into why decision-making is essential in project management.

Importance of Effective Decision-Making in Project Management

Let’s look at the importance of decision-making in project management.

  • Manages risks & obstacles : By making effective decisions, project managers can identify potential risks, evaluate alternatives, and choose the best course of action. This enables them to mitigate risks and overcome obstacles throughout the project lifecycle .
  • Optimizes resource allocation : By making well-informed decisions, project managers can allocate resources strategically, ensuring that the right resources are assigned to the right tasks at the right time. This helps in optimizing efficiency and minimizing resource wastage.
  • Enhances efficiency & productivity : Sound decision-making eliminates unnecessary steps, and prioritizes tasks . This results in improved efficiency, increased productivity, and timely project completion.
  • Aligns with organizational goals : Effective decision-making helps project managers to align their project efforts with the organization’s goals and objectives. As a result, they can create consistency and coherence across projects and boost organizational performance.
  • Fosters continuous innovation : Making informed decisions encourages innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and collaboration within the project team, creating an environment that nurtures new ideas and drives continuous improvement.
  • Drives growth & exceptional results : The ability to make well-informed decisions in project management is instrumental in driving project growth and maintaining a competitive edge in today’s business landscape.

You know the importance of decision-making now, but what are the key factors that influence the decision-making process in project management?

Key Factors Influencing Decision-Making in Project Management

Key Factors Influencing Decision-Making in Project Management

You need to make effective decisions to manage projects successfully. But it’s not easy. You have to deal with many factors that affect your choices.

So let’s explore the five key factors that significantly impact decision-making in project management.

1. Project Goals & Objectives

Clear and well-defined project goals and objectives serve as the foundation for decision-making. Every decision should align with the overarching project goals to ensure the project stays on track. Understanding the desired outcomes and deliverables will help you make informed decisions to drive the project toward success.

2. Stakeholder Expectations & Requirements

Stakeholders are indispensable contributors to every project. As a project manager, you should carefully consider their expectations and needs during decision-making. You must engage with stakeholders actively and understand their perspectives. This helps satisfy their interests and maintain their support while fostering positive relationships.

3. Time & Resource Constraints

Project management operates within the confines of time and resources. Decisions made in this context should factor in the project timeline and available resources. As a project manager, you must balance meeting project deadlines and optimizing resource allocation. By prioritizing tasks and allocating resources efficiently, you can make decisions that keep the project on schedule and within budget.

4. Risk Assessment & Management

Every project entails inherent risks, and effective decision-making requires a thorough assessment and management. It’s a good idea to identify potential risks, evaluate their impact, and devise mitigation strategies. You should consider the level of risk tolerance and prioritize actions that minimize or eliminate potential risks. Proactively addressing risks can help you make decisions that safeguard project success.

5. Organizational Culture & Policies

The organizational culture and policies within which a project operates also influence decision-making. Project managers must consider their organization’s values, norms, and established procedures. Project managers promote consistency and compliance by aligning their decisions with the organizational culture and policies, ensuring the project’s integration with the larger organizational framework.

Standard Techniques of Decision-Making in Project Management

Let’s explore the various decision-making techniques in project management that you can employ to make informed and effective decisions.

1. Rational Decision-Making

Rational decision-making follows a logical and systematic approach. It involves identifying the problem, gathering relevant information, and generating alternatives. Once this is done, you then evaluate the alternatives based on predetermined criteria and select the best option. This technique ensures that decisions are based on objective analysis and logical reasoning, leading to optimal outcomes.

2. Intuitive Decision-Making

Intuitive decision-making relies on the project manager’s instincts, experience, and tacit knowledge. Here, a project manager taps into past experiences and uses gut feelings to make decisions quickly. While it may seem subjective, intuitive decision-making can be valuable when faced with time constraints or limited data. The technique leverages the project manager’s expertise to make effective choices.

3. Data-Driven Decision-Making

The next technique for the decision-making process in project management is data-driven decision-making. It involves using relevant and reliable data to make informed decisions. You collect and analyze data to gain insights, identify patterns, and make decisions based on empirical evidence. For this, you can use a tool that collates and categorizes data, helping you make informed choices that are objective and grounded in factual information.

4. Consensus-Based Decision-Making

Consensus-based decision-making involves gathering input and perspectives from various stakeholders to reach a mutually agreed-upon decision. This technique promotes collaboration, inclusivity, and collective ownership of decisions. Project managers can leverage the group’s collective wisdom to make well-rounded decisions by involving team members, stakeholders, and subject matter experts.

5. Cost-Benefit Analysis

The cost-benefit analysis technique helps project managers evaluate potential costs and benefits for different alternatives. You quantify and compare the expected benefits against the associated costs. This way, you can assess the feasibility and desirability of different options. This technique enables you to make decisions that maximize value while considering resource constraints.

6. Decision Trees & Decision Matrices

Decision trees and decision matrices are visual tools that aid in complex decision-making. Decision tree map out different decision paths and their potential outcomes, allowing you to evaluate the consequences of each choice. Decision matrices provide a structured framework for evaluating multiple alternatives against specific criteria, facilitating systematic and objective decision-making.

So these were the critical decision-making techniques in project management. Now, it’s time to delve into the process of decision-making.

Master the Decision-Making Process: Key Steps for Effective Results

Decision-Making Process: Key Steps for Effective Results

The decision-making process in project management involves a series of systematic steps that ensure informed and effective choices.

Let’s break down the steps and discuss them.

Identify the Key Decision at Hand

The first step in the decision-making process is to identify the decision you want to make. The process involves understanding the problem or opportunity at hand and defining the desired outcome.

For instance, you have to decide how to use your resources wisely, such as money, people, and tools, for different project tasks or teams. You also have to make decisions about project schedules, task order, and critical path analysis to make sure your project moves smoothly and finishes on time.

Gather & Analyze Relevant Information

Once you identify the decision to make, you must gather and analyze relevant information. This includes collecting data, conducting research, consulting stakeholders, and considering internal and external factors influencing the decision.

Note that decision-making tools are designed to alleviate the burden of tedious tasks, enabling you to extract crucial information efficiently without getting caught up in unnecessary data collection and compilation.

Using a tool, you can dive into data analysis using presentation-ready reports, accelerating the decision-making process significantly. For instance, look at the example of a Summary report in ProProfs Project .

Summary report in ProProfs Project

This comprehensive report provides detailed information on task statuses, departmental assignments, and overall project progress, offering a clear perspective on the project’s current state.

Without a tool to analyze such data, you would need to manually identify the number of active, on-hold, and inactive tasks. Additionally, you would have to separately determine the department(s) lagging in progress and calculate the overall project progress. This approach would be both time-consuming and tedious.

The smarter alternative? Embrace a modern project management tool !

Generate & Evaluate Alternative Solutions

The next step is to generate various alternative solutions or options. This involves brainstorming ideas and considering different approaches to address the identified decision.

Then, to evaluate the alternatives, assess their advantages, disadvantages, feasibility, and alignment with project goals. This assessment allows you to narrow down the options to select the most viable ones.

For instance, when delegating resources across multiple projects , you may consider project priorities, resource availability, and team expertise to determine the most optimal allocation strategy.

Make & Implement the Decision

Once the alternatives are evaluated, it’s time to make the final decision. This involves selecting the best option based on the analysis conducted in the previous steps. The decision should align with project goals, stakeholder expectations, and the available resources.

After making the decision, project managers move on to implementing it. This involves creating a plan, allocating resources, and communicating the decision to relevant stakeholders.

For example, you may decide to distribute the budget based on the importance of each project, ensuring resources are allocated strategically. Similarly, you might assign resources based on team members’ expertise for specific projects, maximizing efficiency and leveraging their skills effectively.

Monitor & Evaluate the Decision’s Outcomes

The final step in the decision-making process is to monitor and evaluate the outcomes. This step entails keeping a close eye on the progress made, measuring performance against predetermined metrics, and assessing whether the decision yields the desired results.

Through this evaluation, valuable insights can be gained, enabling the identification of any necessary adjustments or corrective actions.

A project manager can diligently monitor the allocation of resources and budget , ensuring the efficient execution of the project and optimizing logistics to achieve a successful outcome with a significant impact.

Following these steps can help you navigate the complexities of decision-making and drive successful project outcomes effortlessly.

The decision-making process in project management is not without its share of inevitable challenges.

Unraveling Common Challenges & Pitfalls in Decision-Making

Common Challenges & Pitfalls in Decision-Making

Let’s explore the five common challenges and pitfalls that project managers face during the decision-making process.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are inherent mental shortcuts or patterns that can cloud judgment and lead to irrational decision-making.

Examples include confirmation bias, where individuals favor information that confirms their existing beliefs, or availability bias, where the ease of recalling information influences decision-making.

Project managers must be aware of these biases and actively work to mitigate their impact. By seeking diverse perspectives, considering alternative viewpoints, and challenging assumptions, project managers can minimize the negative effects of cognitive biases.

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis occurs when project managers become overwhelmed with an excess of information or options, leading to indecisiveness or delayed decision-making.

While thorough analysis is essential, spending too much time in the analysis phase can hinder progress and timely decision-making. To overcome analysis paralysis, project managers can set clear decision-making criteria, establish reasonable deadlines, and prioritize key factors. It’s crucial to balance gathering sufficient information and making a timely decision to keep the project on track.

Conflicting Information & Opinions

Project managers often encounter conflicting information and opinions from stakeholders or team members. This can create uncertainty and make decision-making challenging.

To address this challenge, you should encourage open communication, actively listen to different perspectives, and seek a common understanding. Respecting diverse viewpoints helps navigate conflicting information and opinions and make decisions incorporating the best available insights.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change can hinder decision-making when team members resist adopting new approaches or ideas.

To combat such challenges, you should encourage open dialogue, promote constructive dissent, and empower team members to challenge the status quo. This will help you embrace diverse thinking and welcome innovation, leading to project success.

Decision-Making Fatigue

Decision-making fatigue refers to the declining quality of decisions due to mental exhaustion or overload.

As project managers face numerous decisions throughout a project’s lifecycle, decision fatigue can compromise judgment and result in subpar outcomes.

To avoid this, you can prioritize and delegate decisions when possible, take regular breaks, and engage in activities that promote mental well-being. Remember, you can maintain your decision-making effectiveness by recognizing the signs of fatigue and taking proactive steps to manage it.

So which practices can help us avoid these challenges and lead us on the right path?

Let’s take a look at some proven best practices for improved decision-making.

Best Practices for Effective Decision-Making

Here are the best practices for effective decision-making.

Create a Decision-Making Framework or Model

A decision-making framework provides a structured approach to guide the decision-making process. It outlines the steps, criteria, and considerations for making informed choices.

Creating a framework helps ensure consistency and objectivity in decision-making.

As a project manager, your first step is identifying the decision, then gathering relevant information from various sources. Also, evaluating alternative options based on predefined criteria helps assess feasibility and impact on stakeholders. 

Finally, selecting the best option that aligns with project goals and predefined benchmarks ensures effective decision-making.

Involve the Right Stakeholders

Engaging the right stakeholders is crucial for effective decision-making.

Stakeholders possess valuable insights, expertise, and perspectives that can contribute to better decision outcomes. Identifying and involving stakeholders with a vested interest or expertise related to the decision is essential.

For instance, when deciding on a software tool, involving representatives from the IT department, end-users, and key project sponsors ensures a comprehensive understanding of requirements and considerations.

Seek Diverse Perspectives & Input

Diversity of perspectives enhances the quality of decision-making.

Project managers should seek input from individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. By incorporating diverse viewpoints, you can minimize blindspots and better understand the decision’s implications.

So soliciting input from team members, subject matter experts, and external consultants can provide broader insights and possibilities.

Encourage Open Communication & Collaboration

As a project manager, it is crucial for you to foster an environment where your team members feel empowered to share their ideas, concerns, and opinions openly. This includes creating a culture where feedback is welcomed, encouraging healthy debates, and promoting active listening.

When you foster an environment that values open communication and collaboration, you can tap into the team’s collective intelligence and improve decision-making outcomes.

Leverage Tools to Support Decision-Making

Leveraging tools and technology can significantly enhance data-driven decision-making in project management.

Various software applications, data analytics tools, and project management platforms provide valuable data analysis, visualization, and collaboration functionalities.

For instance, using project management software that integrates decision-making features, such as reports and data-rich dashboards, can aid in evaluating work and adjusting workflows where necessary. These decision-making tools in project management enable project managers to organize information, streamline collaboration, and easily make data-driven decisions.

Watch this quick video to learn more about why you use a simple project management tool to support your decision-making process.

Turbocharge Your Decision-Making for Success!

Embracing effective decision-making practices in project management is the key to steering your projects toward consistent success. Remember, your choices profoundly impact the outcome of your project and the satisfaction of your stakeholders.

To make informed decisions, equip yourself with the right tools and leverage data-driven insights. Foster open communication within your team, enabling collaboration and collective wisdom!

By embracing the complexities of decision-making in project management and data-driven approaches; you can conquer challenges and unlock the full potential of your projects!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: how can i make my project better.

There are several ways by which you can make your project better. Take a look:

  • Consider ways to expand perceptibility and cognizance
  • Establish a day-to-day routine for your team
  • Stay far from unnecessarily complicating your projects
  • Put in place appropriate expectations and stick to them
  • Share changes to your team

Q2: What Are The 3 Types of Decision Making?

The 3 types of decision making are:

  • Extensive decision-making process
  • Limited decision-making process
  • Routine decision-making process

Alternatively, you also list them as:

  • Consumer decision making
  • Business decision making
  • Personal decision making

Q3: What Is an Example of Decision Making?

Decision making is required in every aspect of running a business. For example, identifying problems in the production process, finding loopholes before launching a product, understanding the effect of increasing store opening hours are all good examples of instances where decision making is required. 

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David Miller

About the author

David miller.

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in , . As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter , LinkedIn , and Facebook .

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Teamflect Blog

Decision Making in Project Management: The Best Guide for 2023

project decision makers

Decision making in project management is one of the most important skills a leader can have. That being said, decision making in project management is easier said than done. We here at Teamflect love speaking the praises of leaders with incredible decision-making skills.

Yet the writer of this article has it on good authority that members of the Teamflect blog team have trouble even as they are trying to pick out what type of coffee pods they should stock up on in the office.

Some people don’t like caramel, Todd! – The Teamflect Blog Team

A million tiny decisions go into making sure an organization runs as smoothly as it does. Anything from our little coffee spat to picking out OKR Software . In making these decisions, a true leader shines. We put together some helpful techniques for decision making in all the phases of project management to help all the awesome leaders reading our blog in realizing their full potential.

Some of these techniques for decision making in project management, we are certain you already know. But there may be a few tricks on decision making in project management that you might actually find to be refreshing.

Support Your Techniques With The Righ Tech.

Before we go any further, we would just like to point out that not using the right infrastructure for project management can take quite a bit of productivity away from your operations.

Project management decision making, after all, is an intricate process with a lot of moving parts. Your project management tool of choice should always be in the flow of work, and readily available.

For Microsoft Teams users, the best project management software is Teamflect. With key project management features such as:

  • Project Check-in Meeting Agendas
  • Task & Goal Management
  • Feedback & Recognitions
  • Project Review Templates

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Now! Without further ado, here are some helpful techniques for all types of decision making in project management!

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Helpful Decision-Making Techniques

decision making in project management

Decision making in project management is an integral part of the success of any project. It involves the careful evaluation of options and the selection of the best solution for the project. There are several decision making models in project management that can be used to help make effective decisions.

1. Identification and evaluation of options

One project management decision making technique that project managers often use is the identification and evaluation of options. When faced with a decision, it is important to evaluate all available options and consider their potential impact on the project.

This decision making process in project management can help managers identify the best option for their project and make an informed decision.

2. Brainstorming

Another project decision making technique is the use of brainstorming. Project managers can use brainstorming to generate ideas and solutions to problems. Brainstorming is a great way to get creative and look at an issue from different perspectives. This can help project managers identify the best possible solution and make a decision.

3. Risk Analysis

A third decision-making technique is risk analysis. Project managers must consider potential risks when making decisions. Risk analysis involves assessing the risks associated with each option and making an informed decision based on the potential risks and rewards.

This technique of decision making in management can help project managers make decisions that are in the best interest of the project.

4. Data and analytics

A fourth decision-making technique is the use of data and analytics. Data-driven decision making in project management is an absolute must. Project managers can use data and analytics to make data-driven decisions.

This allows project managers to make decisions based on facts, rather than on instinct or opinion. Decision making in software project management allows project managers to make more informed decisions, which can result in better outcomes for the project.

Using project management software such as Teamflect can help immensely in this regard.

Teamflect is an all-in-one performance management software that provides its users with Power BI reports. These reports do more than provide you with data. They provide valuable insights into your team’s performance, letting you make decisions much easier. If you are an organization using Microsoft Teams or any other Microsoft Office tool, then Teamflect is the project management tool for you!

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5. Decision Tree Analysis

The last technique for decision making process in project management is decision tree analysis which is a tool that allows project managers to visualize the different options and the potential outcomes of each option. This can help project managers better understand the potential risks and rewards of each option and make a more informed decision.

Data-Driven Decision Making in Project Management

We know that the demands of business today make it difficult for project managers to make informed decisions. From resource allocation and risk assessment to task prioritization and budgeting, you need to rely on accurate and timely information to optimize project performance as a project manager. That’s why we will now talk about the importance of being data-driven in the decision making project management arsenal.

Importance of Data-Driven Decision Making

decision making in project management

Data-driven decision making is a process that involves collecting, analyzing and interpreting data—rather than relying solely on intuition or gut feelings—to make informed decisions. There are lots of benefits to making data-driven decisions to talk about. Let’s see some of them!

Increased Accuracy and Reduced Subjectivity

You can improve the efficiency and accuracy of important decisions by basing them on data rather than personal opinions or assumptions. Objective data can be used to make better decisions, leading to more accurate and reliable outcomes.

Better Risk Management

Projects are risky by nature, and effective risk management is a crucial component of success.Data-driven decision making allows project managers to identify and assess risks more accurately. Using historical data and predictive analytics, project managers can assess the likelihood and impact of risks, which enables them to develop appropriate mitigation strategies.

Optimized Resource Allocation

When you’re managing a project, one of your jobs is to make sure that resources are used as efficiently as possible. Analyzing data on resource availability and performance can help project managers make informed decisions about which resources to allocate for a given task, resulting in improved overall project efficiency.

Timely Issue Detection and Resolution

In any given project, there are likely to be unforeseen difficulties or snags that can affect the schedule and outcome. Through data-driven decision making, you can monitor key performance indicators and metrics in real-time and solve any issues as they arise without a hassle.

Implementing Data-Driven Decision Making

If we’re on the same page about the importance of data-driven decision making, let’s look at some tips to implement them in your next project.

Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Identify the relevant KPIs that align with project objectives. Your KPIs may include metrics related to cost, schedule adherence, quality, customer satisfaction, and team performance.

Collect and Centralize Data: Create a system for storing, organizing and retrieving data about your project. You can use a project management software that will do this automatically for you.

Analyze and Interpret Data: Analyze the collected data using analytics tools and practices to find patterns, trends, or insights that can inform decision making. You can use visualizations and dashboards for presenting complex data in a more accessible format.

Apply Data Insights to Decision Making: Use the data insights gained to make informed decisions throughout the project lifecycle. Consider the implications of the data on resource allocation, risk management, task prioritization, and other critical aspects of project management.

Monitor and Refine: Continually monitor performance and make adjustments as needed. Keep the data collection and analysis processes updated so that they remain effective.

Making data-driven decisions during any project will help you to better analyze any issues, use an objective approach, and set more achievable goals and KPIs.

Challenges of Decision Making in Project Management

Decision making in project management can be challenging because sometimes the path ahead of us can’t be anticipated clearly and we might face ambiguity. You can find the most common challenges of decision making in project management below.

1. Having excessive amount of information or not enough information

Information overload can make it difficult to make a decision we might be overwhelmed by the details and the sheer volume of information. Not having enough information can also be a challenge while making decisions.

To overcome information overload as well as the lack of information, first, you need to determine the most important information and avoid focusing on the details. When you do have not enough information you can create contingency plans and anticipate possible scenarios.

2. Time and resource limitations

When your options at hand are limited by time, finances, and certain policies, it will be hard to make a decision. To overcome this challenge, you need to establish your priorities and use project management software so that you can save time and be more organized.

3. The anxiety making wrong decisions

decision making in project management

Anxiety can impede decision making processes because when we are anxious, we overthink and feel overwhelmed. But, if you are managing risks by analyzing them and have already done your research, it means that you put in your best effort.

Moreover, you can’t anticipate everything since life can be unpredictable. However, it’s always great to create plans and anticipate potential outcomes as much as possible.

4. Biases and personal values

Our values and biases can have a negative effect on decision making processes by clouding our judgment. If you are in doubt about having biases, you can use other people’s perspectives before making a decision. This way you can balance out your judgment with other people’s opinions and make a better decision.

Frequently asked questions on decision-making in project management:

What is decision making in project management.

Decision-making in project management is the process of making important decisions that affect the outcome of a project. It involves evaluating the options available, assessing the risks and benefits of each option, and selecting the best solution for the project.

The decision-making process can be complex, depending on the type of project and the nature of the decisions that need to be made. Factors to consider include the project timeline, budget, resources, and risks. It’s important to consider how the decision will impact the project’s overall success, and how it will affect stakeholders.

Project managers need to be able to make difficult decisions quickly and confidently. They must be able to weigh the pros and cons of different options, consider the impact on stakeholders, and make the best possible decision for the project.

It’s also important to consider how decision-making will be communicated to the team and stakeholders, and ensure everyone is on board with the decision. Making good decisions in project management is essential for a successful outcome.

The decisions you make can have a major impact on the success of the project and the satisfaction of stakeholders, so it’s important to take the time to weigh all the options and make the best decision for the project.

Why is decision-making important in projects?

Decision-making is a crucial part of project management. It’s important because the decisions you make can have a huge impact on the success of the project. The right decision can mean the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to take the time to evaluate all the options and make the best decision possible.

Decision-making also affects the timeline and budget of a project. It’s important to make decisions quickly and efficiently so that the project stays on track and is completed on time and within budget. By making the right decisions, project managers can ensure that the project is completed on schedule and that stakeholders’ expectations are met.

Decision-making is also important for communication. It’s important for project managers to be able to communicate their decisions to the team and stakeholders in a clear and concise way. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone understands the rationale behind each decision.

In short, decision-making is essential for successful project management. It’s important for project managers to be able to make decisions quickly and confidently, considering the risks and benefits of each option and weighing the impact on stakeholders.

By making the right decisions, project managers can ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget and that stakeholders’ expectations are met.

What are decision-making techniques?

Decision-making techniques are methods that project managers can use to make decisions. There are a variety of techniques available for different types of decisions, and each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages. What are the types of decision-making?

Using a decision matrix. This technique involves evaluating each option based on a set of criteria and assigning a weight to each criterion. This allows project managers to quickly compare the different options and identify the best choice.

Another common decision-making technique is the use of brainstorming. This involves gathering a group of people to discuss the different options and generate as many ideas as possible. Each person is then able to offer their own insights and perspectives, which can help project managers make the best decision.

Project managers can also use a process of elimination. This involves creating a list of options and then eliminating them one by one until the best option is identified. This is a great technique for making quick decisions.

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This is how effective teams navigate the decision-making process

Zero Magic 8 Balls required.

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Flipping a coin. Throwing a dart at a board. Pulling a slip of paper out of a hat.

Sure, they’re all ways to make a choice. But they all hinge on random chance rather than analysis, reflection, and strategy — you know, the things you actually need to make the big, meaty decisions that have major impacts.

So, set down that Magic 8 Ball and back away slowly. Let’s walk through the standard framework for decision-making that will help you and your team pinpoint the problem, consider your options, and make your most informed selection. Here’s a closer look at each of the seven steps of the decision-making process, and how to approach each one. 

Step 1: Identify the decision

Most of us are eager to tie on our superhero capes and jump into problem-solving mode — especially if our team is depending on a solution. But you can’t solve a problem until you have a full grasp on what it actually is .

This first step focuses on getting the lay of the land when it comes to your decision. What specific problem are you trying to solve? What goal are you trying to achieve? 

How to do it: 

  • Use the 5 whys analysis to go beyond surface-level symptoms and understand the root cause of a problem.
  • Try problem framing to dig deep on the ins and outs of whatever problem your team is fixing. The point is to define the problem, not solve it. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Decision fatigue , which is the tendency to make worse decisions as a result of needing to make too many of them. Making choices is mentally taxing , which is why it’s helpful to pinpoint one decision at a time. 

2. Gather information

Your team probably has a few hunches and best guesses, but those can lead to knee-jerk reactions. Take care to invest adequate time and research into your decision.

This step is when you build your case, so to speak. Collect relevant information — that could be data, customer stories, information about past projects, feedback, or whatever else seems pertinent. You’ll use that to make decisions that are informed, rather than impulsive.

  • Host a team mindmapping session to freely explore ideas and make connections between them. It can help you identify what information will best support the process.
  • Create a project poster to define your goals and also determine what information you already know and what you still need to find out. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Information bias , or the tendency to seek out information even if it won’t impact your action. We have the tendency to think more information is always better, but pulling together a bunch of facts and insights that aren’t applicable may cloud your judgment rather than offer clarity. 

3. Identify alternatives

Use divergent thinking to generate fresh ideas in your next brainstorm

Use divergent thinking to generate fresh ideas in your next brainstorm

Blame the popularity of the coin toss, but making a decision often feels like choosing between only two options. Do you want heads or tails? Door number one or door number two? In reality, your options aren’t usually so cut and dried. Take advantage of this opportunity to get creative and brainstorm all sorts of routes or solutions. There’s no need to box yourselves in. 

  • Use the Six Thinking Hats technique to explore the problem or goal from all sides: information, emotions and instinct, risks, benefits, and creativity. It can help you and your team break away from your typical roles or mindsets and think more freely.
  • Try brainwriting so team members can write down their ideas independently before sharing with the group. Research shows that this quiet, lone thinking time can boost psychological safety and generate more creative suggestions .

⚠️ Watch out for: Groupthink , which is the tendency of a group to make non-optimal decisions in the interest of conformity. People don’t want to rock the boat, so they don’t speak up. 

4. Consider the evidence

Armed with your list of alternatives, it’s time to take a closer look and determine which ones could be worth pursuing. You and your team should ask questions like “How will this solution address the problem or achieve the goal?” and “What are the pros and cons of this option?” 

Be honest with your answers (and back them up with the information you already collected when you can). Remind the team that this isn’t about advocating for their own suggestions to “win” — it’s about whittling your options down to the best decision. 

How to do it:

  • Use a SWOT analysis to dig into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the options you’re seriously considering.
  • Run a project trade-off analysis to understand what constraints (such as time, scope, or cost) the team is most willing to compromise on if needed. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Extinction by instinct , which is the urge to make a decision just to get it over with. You didn’t come this far to settle for a “good enough” option! 

5. Choose among the alternatives

This is it — it’s the big moment when you and the team actually make the decision. You’ve identified all possible options, considered the supporting evidence, and are ready to choose how you’ll move forward.

However, bear in mind that there’s still a surprising amount of room for flexibility here. Maybe you’ll modify an alternative or combine a few suggested solutions together to land on the best fit for your problem and your team. 

  • Use the DACI framework (that stands for “driver, approver, contributor, informed”) to understand who ultimately has the final say in decisions. The decision-making process can be collaborative, but eventually someone needs to be empowered to make the final call.
  • Try a simple voting method for decisions that are more democratized. You’ll simply tally your team’s votes and go with the majority. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Analysis paralysis , which is when you overthink something to such a great degree that you feel overwhelmed and freeze when it’s time to actually make a choice. 

6. Take action

Making a big decision takes a hefty amount of work, but it’s only the first part of the process — now you need to actually implement it. 

It’s tempting to think that decisions will work themselves out once they’re made. But particularly in a team setting, it’s crucial to invest just as much thought and planning into communicating the decision and successfully rolling it out. 

  • Create a stakeholder communications plan to determine how you’ll keep various people — direct team members, company leaders, customers, or whoever else has an active interest in your decision — in the loop on your progress.
  • Define the goals, signals, and measures of your decision so you’ll have an easier time aligning the team around the next steps and determining whether or not they’re successful. 

⚠️Watch out for: Self-doubt, or the tendency to question whether or not you’re making the right move. While we’re hardwired for doubt , now isn’t the time to be a skeptic about your decision. You and the team have done the work, so trust the process. 

7. Review your decision

9 retrospective techniques that won’t bore your team to tears.

As the decision itself starts to shake out, it’s time to take a look in the rearview mirror and reflect on how things went.

Did your decision work out the way you and the team hoped? What happened? Examine both the good and the bad. What should you keep in mind if and when you need to make this sort of decision again? 

  • Do a 4 L’s retrospective to talk through what you and the team loved, loathed, learned, and longed for as a result of that decision.
  • Celebrate any wins (yes, even the small ones ) related to that decision. It gives morale a good kick in the pants and can also help make future decisions feel a little less intimidating.

⚠️ Watch out for: Hindsight bias , or the tendency to look back on events with the knowledge you have now and beat yourself up for not knowing better at the time. Even with careful thought and planning, some decisions don’t work out — but you can only operate with the information you have at the time. 

Making smart decisions about the decision-making process

You’re probably picking up on the fact that the decision-making process is fairly comprehensive. And the truth is that the model is likely overkill for the small and inconsequential decisions you or your team members need to make.

Deciding whether you should order tacos or sandwiches for your team offsite doesn’t warrant this much discussion and elbow grease. But figuring out which major project to prioritize next? That requires some careful and collaborative thought. 

It all comes back to the concept of satisficing versus maximizing , which are two different perspectives on decision making. Here’s the gist:

  • Maximizers aim to get the very best out of every single decision.
  • Satisficers are willing to settle for “good enough” rather than obsessing over achieving the best outcome.

One of those isn’t necessarily better than the other — and, in fact, they both have their time and place.

A major decision with far-reaching impacts deserves some fixation and perfectionism. However, hemming and hawing over trivial choices ( “Should we start our team meeting with casual small talk or a structured icebreaker?” ) will only cause added stress, frustration, and slowdowns. 

As with anything else, it’s worth thinking about the potential impacts to determine just how much deliberation and precision a decision actually requires. 

Decision-making is one of those things that’s part art and part science. You’ll likely have some gut feelings and instincts that are worth taking into account. But those should also be complemented with plenty of evidence, evaluation, and collaboration.

The decision-making process is a framework that helps you strike that balance. Follow the seven steps and you and your team can feel confident in the decisions you make — while leaving the darts and coins where they belong.

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13 February, 2023


Your Essential Guide to How to Make Robust Project Decisions

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By   Mike Clayton

One of the challenges a new Project Manager faces is project decision-making. It is easy to find the constant stream of small decisions overwhelming. But there’s more to it than that. Some decisions are big. And getting them right is a crucial matter of good governance.

The Twin Challenges of Project Decision Making

Your Essential Guide to How to Make Robust Project Decisions

There are two requirements for good project decision-making:

  • The need to get it right… in terms of accountability, transparency, and approach, to satisfy the need for good governance
  • The need to make project decisions quickly… to satisfy the need for speed, so you don’t hold up progress.

In this article, we are going to focus on the need for good, robust, accountable project decision-making. In our follow-up article, I take a look at how to satisfy the need for speed and make a good decision in a hurry. So, here is our agenda:

Project Decision-Making Process Overview

Setting yourself up for a robust decision, making your project decision, following up on your project decision making, there’s more to project decision making than just making a decision.

And then, there’s our follow-up article, ‘Rapid Project Decisions: Do You Know How to Make them with Confidence?’

On the face of it, the project decision-making process is simple:

  • Define the problem to resolve or the decision to make
  • Make the decision
  • Implement it

But as the process overview below shows, there are more steps involved.

A Project Decision Making Process

In the sections that follow, I shall divide this process into three principal stages:

  • Defining the problem
  • Identifying the decision-makers
  • Identifying the decision-making criteria
  • Listing the possible decision options
  • Logical, rational evaluation processes
  • Intuitive, gut-instinct processes
  • Awareness of the decision-making traps that await us
  • Documenting your decision and the decision-making process
  • Letting people know what decision you’ve taken and, if needed, convince them it is the right approach
  • Planning how you will implement the decision

Then, of course, it is time to implement your decision. But, of course, that is a whole other matter!

Like so much of life in general, and Project Management in particular, good preparation is vital for a successful outcome. So you need to set yourself up to succeed by putting the foundations of a good decision in place.

First, Define the Problem that Needs a Decision

One tip I always recommend is to think of the ultimate outcome your decision must serve. As a result, define your decision as:

How to best…

This way you achieve two things:

  • You express the decision as a practical exercise: ‘how to…’
  • You recognize that there may be no perfect solution. So you are just looking for the optimum: the ‘best’

Next, Ask Who the Right Decision Makers are

It may be you. It may be your project sponsor, client, or boss. Or it may be a decision-making group, like your Project Board, Steering Committee, or Design Authority. A decision can only be a good decision if it is taken by the right person or group of people. So you need to consider the:

  • level of authority each project decision needs,
  • knowledge or experience that is necessary to inform a sound decision
  • governance arrangements for this aspect of your project

Now Consider the Decision Criteria

On what basis will you (or your other decision-makers) take this decision? How do you define ‘Best’ ? Often, this comes down to one or two of the common project concerns:

  • Opportunities

The challenge comes when we recognize that what one stakeholder thinks is the vital element, is not the same for the next stakeholder. So all project decision-making is an exercise in balancing the needs, desires, and expectations of your various stakeholder groups. Often, there may be some negotiation at this stage.

A common approach is to evaluate options against a number of criteria and to determine, before the decision itself, the relative weighting of each of the criteria. For example, you may weight the criteria:

  • Quality 60%
  • Schedule 20%

And lastly, What are Your Options?

You can’t make a decision without options to choose from. So set out the alternatives that will best address your problem or issue. There are two things to be careful about:

  • Beware of having too many options This can easily cause ‘ decision paralysis ‘. This means the fear of getting your choice wrong will prevent you from making a decision.
  • Likewise, too few options can leave a concern that you left something out. Three or four is often the right number. Just two options is a dilemma. And that never feels comfortable!

Before you make your decision, you need to evaluate the options. There are two ways of doing this, using different kinds of mental processes:

Logical Evaluation

This is an effortful, thoughtful, and conscious evaluation. We have all sorts of tools available to make rational decisions; many of them numerical. A lot of project decision-making must rely on this kind of process. Indeed, without it, you will find it hard to document the reasons for your decisions, and therefore meet the governance requirement for transparency and accountability.

Choose one or two appropriate decision-making tools to use. And then apply them with rigor.

Intuitive Evaluation

We often jump to conclusions and, nearly as often, get them wrong. Yet we all feel a compulsion sometimes to just ‘trust our gut’ .

Much research has examined when it is right to do so. We are balancing here the twin pulls of :

  • Our experience that sometimes intuition is powerful and correct
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Perhaps the most thorough assessment of when we can trust our intuition has been done by Gary Klein. His books Sources of Power (technical reading) and The Power of Intuition (business reading) are excellent and I recommend them both. This work also appears in the popular book, Blink , by Malcolm Gladwell. To understand the power of biases in our thinking, one of my Top 5 business book recommendations is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking: Fast and Slow .

However, the broad conclusion of Klein’s research is simple. We can best rely on our intuitive judgments in situations where:

  • We have deep experience that is highly relevant to the situation, and
  • The situation is highly complex and not easily susceptible to logical analysis

But Wait! Before You Make Your Decision…

Let’s go back to those biases that Human beings are so prone to. They create all manner of decision-making traps. And Project Managers are nothing special in this regard. Sorry.

This is too big a topic, by far, to shoe-horn into this article. And I don’t doubt it’s one I will come back to. For a brief flavor of some of the ideas, check out an earlier article of ours, The Problems of Probability. As I mentioned, the best book (bar none) you can read today on this topic is Thinking: Fast and Slow , by Daniel Kahneman.

Not only did Kahneman do much of the original work in this area (he won a Nobel Prize for it), but he has observed the field from its start, participated in all its important debates, and he writes extraordinarily well. Not only that, but this book is the closest you’ll find to a comprehensive survey of the field. It’s a book any serious business professional should read.

Common biases and project decision-making traps include:

  • Over-confidence in plans
  • Influence by recent, prominent events
  • Mis-estimation of the likelihood of extreme and dreaded risks
  • Basing decisions on the first information we received
  • Mis-attributing expertise in one field to someone who is an expert in a related field
  • The very human tendency to see patterns where they don’t exist

By the way, Kahneman is a psychologist. And I strongly advocate that all project managers take an interest in psychology. We spend a lot of our time working with people – often under pressure. I consider an understanding of psychology to be an essential skill! Take a look at:

  • Top 12 Psychologists a Project Manager Should Know About
  • Positive Psychology in Business: A Review
  • Power of Neuroscience: How to Harness it for Project Success
  • What is Your Psychological Distance? | Video

Okay, so You have been careful…

It is now time to make your decision.

What’s it to be?

Decision made: job done!

Not so fast, Project Manager.

Document Your Decision

To satisfy the needs of good governance, you will also need to document your decision and the considerations around it.

One thing I recommend you keep is an archive of all critical project decisions. This can take the form of a decision log, meeting minutes, or just highlighted notes in your project notebook. But, one way or another, you need to be able to track back on any important decision, and be able to answer the typical audit questions:

  • When was this decision made?
  • Who made this decision?
  • Under what circumstances?
  • Using what criteria?
  • Following what process?
  • And what alternatives were considered?

So, what decisions are important enough to require documentation? The tests I would apply are impacts on scope, quality, schedule, and budget. set a threshold for each. And, if the decision could impact any of these at a level beyond that threshold, then document the decision.

Now the Work Begins: Let People Know

Who needs to know the decision you made? And who do you need to persuade that it was the right decision? Project decisions have material effects on your stakeholders, so don’t take their support for the decision for granted.

Be aware, by the way, that most decisions are a compromise. It may be the right decision for the project, taken as a whole. But, for an individual stakeholder, this may be a disappointing – even disastrous – choice!

And even when you may be right in believing people would support your decision, if they don’t know about it; how can they? What they will do instead is gossip and start rumors to fill the information gap.

And the Work Continues…

Of course, it’s tempting to get on and implement your decision straight away. But you’re a Project Manager. So, I hope you wouldn’t dive straight into implementing anything without an appropriate level of planning.

But, once you have a plan: knock yourself out!

The art of getting project decision-making right is something most project managers evolve over their careers. We get better at it as we do more of it.

The very best decision-makers – in all arenas – do one thing that the rest do not…

They keep records, and they review their decisions. The best decision-makers record every decision they make, along with the thinking process behind those decisions. They then periodically review their decisions and the outcomes. They compare what actually happened with any assumptions they made. And they try to unpick what made their decision either right or wrong in retrospect. Then, they draw lessons that they try to apply to their future decision-making.

Will you do this?

What are Your Project Decision-Making Lessons?

Please use the comments section below to share what you have learned, and I will comment on all contributions.

For more tips and ideas, take a look at our video, Better Decision-making and More Robust Choices – Top 10 Tips .

Your Essential Guide to How to Make Robust Project Decisions

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Productivity Patrol

Master Decision-Making in Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide

decision making in project management

Effective decision-making is a critical skill for anyone working in project management, often defining the success or failure of a project. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the tools and insights to make more informed decisions, no matter what challenges come your way. Topics we’ll explore include:

  • Defining what decision-making in project management involves.
  • Exploring why decision-making is so critical in steering a project towards its goals.
  • Discussing practical examples of decision-making scenarios in project management.
  • Understanding the key steps in the decision-making process within project management.
  • Learning about specific decision-making frameworks and models used in project management.
  • Highlighting the importance and role of data-driven decision-making in project management.

We aim to provide you with a holistic understanding of decision-making in project management, fostering better decision-making practices, effective teamwork, and successful project outcomes.

What is Decision-Making in Project Management?

Decision-making in project management is a pivotal, multifaceted process that stands as the bedrock of every project’s journey towards success. It’s a dynamic mix of analysis, intuition, experience, and courage, woven together to steer a project’s trajectory amidst a myriad of variables and uncertainties.

It transcends picking between options A and B, and dives into a comprehensive assessment of available resources, strategic alignment, risk factors, stakeholder interests, and potential impacts on the project’s scope, time, cost, and quality. It is the core activity that harmonizes the complex symphony of project components, enabling managers to navigate a roadmap replete with forks and turns, steer clear of potential pitfalls, and drive the project to its desired destination.

Thus, decision-making is not merely a function in project management—it’s the heartbeat of effective project leadership.

The Core Principals of Project Management Decision-Making

  • Goal Orientation : Decisions in project management should always be aligned with the project’s short-term and long-term objectives to ensure progress and success.
  • Data-Driven Approach : Using available information and data analytics can lead to informed and efficient decisions, boosting the project’s performance.
  • Resource Consciousness : Decision-making should consider organizational and resource constraints. It involves optimizing resource use and managing timelines effectively.
  • Risk Management : Anticipating and managing unexpected risks is a core principle of decision-making, which involves learning from each setback to improve future projects.
  • Clear Implementation : Decisions should establish a practical and understandable implementation process that encourages effective collaboration across different departments.
  • Stakeholder Alignment : Good decision-making involves considering the interests of all stakeholders, balancing different expectations while aligning with project objectives.
  • Agility : Decisions should promote flexibility, allowing the team to adapt quickly and efficiently to changes, thereby ensuring the project’s ongoing success.

Why is Decision-Making Important in Project Management?

The importance of decision-making in project management is as crucial as the captain’s decision to steer the ship in the right direction amidst a storm. Every decision, be it major or minor, can impact project timelines, resource allocation, budget, and overall project outcome.

Think about this: what happens if the project manager chooses the wrong method of development for a software project? The consequences can range from minor setbacks to a project catastrophe, leading to financial losses and damage to reputation. So, it’s fair to say that decision-making, in essence, can be the difference between project success and failure.

Examples of Decisions in Project Management

Let’s dive a bit deeper. What kind of decisions does a project manager need to make? The answer is – a myriad!

  • Methodology: Deciding on the project approach is one of the first decisions to make. Will it be Agile, waterfall, or a hybrid approach?
  • Scope: Determining the project’s boundaries and what it will deliver.
  • Resources: Choosing the right team members, tools, and technologies is crucial.
  • Budget: How much to spend on various project aspects?
  • Risk Management: What are the potential risks, and how to mitigate them?
  • Stakeholder Management: How and when to communicate with stakeholders?
  • Change Management: How to handle change requests while keeping the project on track?

Each decision you make, each path you take shape the project’s journey and its destination.

The Decision-Making Process in Project Management

Decision-making in project management isn’t something you do on a whim. It requires a structured approach, and a defined process. So, how do you navigate this maze? Let’s break it down step by step:

1. Identify the Decision

Before diving into any decision-making process, it’s crucial to pinpoint what needs to be decided. Understand why this particular decision is of significance and its potential ramifications on the project. This provides a clear direction and highlights the urgency of the decision at hand.

2. Gather Relevant Information

Decisions shouldn’t be based on instincts alone. Arm yourself with pertinent information. This might involve conducting thorough research, consulting with experts, or soliciting input from team members. The more comprehensive your data collection, the more informed your decision will be.

3. Identify Alternatives

Every decision point usually offers multiple paths. List down every possible solution or action you can think of. This ensures that you’re not limiting yourself and are considering all potential courses of action available.

4. Evaluate the Alternatives

Now, with a list of options on hand, it’s time to dissect each one. Evaluate them based on crucial criteria such as feasibility, associated costs, time consumption, and required resources. This step is crucial as it helps highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative.

5. Select the Best Alternative

After a careful assessment, it’s time to zero in on the option that best meets your project goals. This choice should strike a balance between being practical and ambitious, ensuring the project moves forward smoothly while also aiming for the highest outcomes.

6. Implement the Decision

A decision, no matter how well thought out, is only as good as its execution. Once you’ve chosen a path, act on it. Implement the necessary steps, delegate tasks, and ensure that your decision transitions from plan to reality.

7. Review the Decision

Post-implementation, it’s essential to monitor the outcomes of your decision. Are things panning out as expected? If not, be prepared to make adjustments. This continuous feedback loop ensures that decisions remain relevant and effective.

Utilizing this seven-step process will illuminate your path, turning decision-making challenges into structured solutions for your project’s success.

Decision-Making Frameworks and Models Used in Project Management

Just as a mechanic has various tools at their disposal, project managers have several decision-making models to guide their choices. These frameworks are designed to add structure to the process, making decision-making more streamlined and effective.

  • The Rational Decision Making Model involves a structured approach, where the best decision is reached through a logical and systematic exploration of alternatives. Learn more .
  • The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model helps managers decide how much employee participation should be included in the decision-making process.
  • The OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) is a cycle developed by military strategist John Boyd. It’s designed to function in an uncertain, rapidly changing environment – just like many projects!
  • The Cynefin Framework helps decision-makers understand the complexity of different types of problems and the best way to respond to them.

Each of these models provides a different lens to view and navigate the decision-making process.

Related: Exploring 41 Powerful Decision-Making Frameworks

Data-Driven Decision-Making in Project Management

Ever heard the phrase “Let the data speak”? In today’s digital age, data-driven decision-making in project management is gaining prominence. But why? The answer is simple: data provides concrete evidence, reducing uncertainty and guesswork.

Data analytics tools can help project managers gather and interpret data, offering actionable insights. From predicting project risks to tracking progress, data empowers managers to make informed decisions. For example, if data shows a recurring delay in a certain phase of the project, a manager can investigate the cause and make appropriate changes.

In essence, data acts as a torch, illuminating the path to effective decision-making in project management.

Decision-Making Techniques for Project Managers

Navigating the labyrinth of project decisions might seem daunting, but worry not! Here are the 5 most helpful techniques for decision-making in project management:

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis : Weigh the expected costs against the benefits of a decision. Choose the one with the highest net benefit. Learn more .
  • Decision Matrix : A table that helps you rank and compare different alternatives based on specific criteria.
  • SWOT Analysis : Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to each decision alternative.
  • Delphi Technique : Gather expert opinions anonymously, discuss, and reach a consensus.
  • Brainstorming : Encourage free thinking and collect diverse ideas from your team.

These techniques are like navigational tools, guiding you through the sea of project decisions.

Effective Decision-Making in Project Teams

Did you know that decision-making is not a solo act? Involving your project team can not only distribute the decision-making load but also boost the team’s morale and commitment to the project. But how to do it effectively?

First, create an open environment where every team member feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Facilitate discussions, encourage dissenting views, and value the diversity of thoughts. Remember, the more varied the inputs, the richer the decision outcomes.

Second, build a culture of trust. Trust your team members’ expertise, and they’ll trust your decisions. It’s a two-way street.

Lastly, leverage collaborative tools. They can streamline the decision-making process, maintain transparency, and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Remember, when it comes to effective decision-making in project teams, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.

What are Some Common Challenges in Decision-Making within Project Teams?

Making decisions in a team setting can be a double-edged sword. While it brings diverse perspectives to the table, it can also breed challenges. Let’s discuss some common ones:

  • Information Overload : Too much information can create confusion, leading to decision paralysis.
  • Groupthink : The desire for harmony or conformity in the group can result in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
  • Bias : Personal or cognitive biases can cloud judgment and influence decisions.
  • Conflict : Differences of opinion can lead to conflicts, hampering the decision-making process.

Awareness of these challenges is the first step to overcoming them. After all, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, right?

Related: Factors Influencing the Decision-Making Process

How to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills for Project-Related Choices

Improving decision-making skills is like honing a craft. It requires continuous learning, practice, and refinement. Here are a few strategies:

  • Learn from past decisions : Reflect on previous decisions, both successes and failures. What worked? What didn’t? Use these insights for future decisions.
  • Develop a logical and methodical approach : Use decision-making models and techniques to bring structure to your process.
  • Stay Informed : Keep up-to-date with project management trends and strategies.
  • Improve your emotional intelligence : Emotional awareness and control can help manage biases and make better decisions.
  • Seek mentorship or training : Learn from experienced project managers or take courses to enhance your decision-making skills.

Remember, the road to effective decision-making is paved with continuous improvement.

How can Project Managers Involve Stakeholders in the Decision-Making Process?

Stakeholder involvement in project decision-making is like adding an extra set of eyes to view a painting. It provides new perspectives and ensures everyone’s needs are considered. But how to achieve this?

  • Identify key stakeholders : Know who can influence or get affected by the project decisions.
  • Communicate regularly : Keep stakeholders informed about the project’s progress and upcoming decisions.
  • Seek their input : Involve them in discussions, ask for their opinions, and respect their insights.
  • Make them part of the solution : Engage stakeholders in problem-solving and decision-making.

Involving stakeholders not only improves decision-making but also builds a strong relationship, contributing to the project’s success.

Effective decision-making can positively influence project outcomes by ensuring efficient resource allocation, risk mitigation, and timely completion of the project.

Tools like Trello, Asana,, and Microsoft Project are excellent for facilitating decision-making in project management.

Wrapping Up

Decision-making in project management is a challenging but essential skill, a journey filled with twists and turns. But remember, with the right tools, techniques, and mindset, you can navigate this journey and steer your projects toward success.

Remember, decision-making in project management isn’t about being right every time; it’s about being comfortable with uncertainty and making the best possible choice with the information at hand. So, what’s your next move?

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Project Decision-Making

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  • Lesson resources Resources
  • Quick reference Reference

About this lesson

Project Decision Making is the process whereby the project leader and project team decide upon project strategy, tactics, and acceptable actions.  For Project Stakeholders, the decisions normally concern project boundaries.  For Project Core Team members, the decisions normally concern project plans and execution.

Exercise files

Download this lesson’s related exercise files.

Quick reference

Decision making .

Project Decision Making is the process whereby the project leader and project team decide upon project strategy, tactics, and acceptable actions.  For Project Stakeholders, the decisions normally concern project boundaries.  For Project Core Team members, the decisions normally concern project plans and day-to-day execution.

When to use

Cross-functional project decision making is required throughout the life of the project.  A decision making process is often needed to resolve conflicting points of view.

At the time of project initiation, Project Stakeholders must make decisions about project goals and project boundaries.

During the project, Project Core Team members must make decisions about project plans, risk response, and the adequacy of project performance.

At project reviews and toll-gate reviews, Project Stakeholders and Project Team members must make decisions about project progress and risk response.


  • Clarify the decision that must be made and who should make it.
  • Schedule an appropriate meeting(s) for those to gather who must participate in the decision based upon the selected decision making process.
  • At the meeting, present the options, risks, and known data.
  • Make a decision using the selected decision making approach.  

Hints & tips

  • Not making a decision that is needed is often the worst thing that can happen on a project; time continues to go by with the team not knowing what to do.
  • Communicate the decision making approach you will be using so that those involved can manage their expectations.
  • Different decision making approaches take different amounts of time, match the approach with the time available.
  • Recognize the possible causes of bad decisions by stakeholders or team members and guard against those.
  • 00:04 Hi, I'm Ray Sheen.
  • 00:06 I'd like to talk with you about one of the most important aspects of project
  • 00:09 execution, and that is decision making.
  • 00:14 I'll start with the characteristics of a good project team decision making process.
  • 00:18 The process focuses on the goals to be achieved by that decision.
  • 00:22 Second, the process uses available data.
  • 00:25 It doesn't just rely on opinions and tradition.
  • 00:28 Third, it takes into consideration the project and
  • 00:30 the organizational constraints.
  • 00:31 The decision is realistic for the project situation.
  • 00:35 Fourth, it addresses the risks associated with that decision as part
  • 00:39 of the decision making process.
  • 00:41 It identifies the existing risks and recognizes any new elements of risk or
  • 00:45 risk mitigation that occur because of the decision.
  • 00:49 It also follows a reasonable process.
  • 00:51 Team members involved in making decision have confidence that the process is fair
  • 00:56 and will yield a good result.
  • 00:58 Finally it respects and develops the team members throughout the process, so
  • 01:02 that decisions would get better and better over time.
  • 01:06 Project decisions often can involve many people, but
  • 01:09 also must be decided quickly to maintain the project schedule.
  • 01:13 Different decision making processes have
  • 01:16 various levels of project team engagement and time requirements.
  • 01:20 When there is very little time, the leader decides.
  • 01:23 This also requires very little involvement, and
  • 01:25 the leader loses the benefit of insight from other team members.
  • 01:29 When there is more time, the leader can check with some other team members and
  • 01:33 ask their opinion about the decision.
  • 01:35 After listening to several members' opinions, once again the leader decides.
  • 01:40 When there is even more time available,
  • 01:42 the leader can call the entire team together and let them debate the issues.
  • 01:46 Each individual has an opportunity to present their position and
  • 01:49 to discuss the merits or defects in other positions.
  • 01:53 At the end of the debate the leader decides.
  • 01:56 The final technique is when the entire team gathers together and
  • 01:59 debates until they reach a consensus decision.
  • 02:03 This will often take a long time.
  • 02:04 And it may lead to the best decision although it also may lead to a stalemate
  • 02:09 and no decision when there are two or three irreconcilable positions.
  • 02:13 In that case, the leader has to step in and decide,
  • 02:16 often leaving the team feeling frustrated with winners and losers.
  • 02:20 Lets talk about the confidence we can have in those decisions.
  • 02:25 The confidence is based upon the stability of the information used during
  • 02:28 the decision making process and the reliability of that information.
  • 02:32 Reliability is based upon whether there are facts or opinions.
  • 02:36 And stability is based upon whether the information is fixed or still changing.
  • 02:41 Ideally, key decisions on the project are made based upon fixed facts.
  • 02:47 These decisions should be final decisions and not revised multiple times.
  • 02:52 Sometimes, especially on development projects, we don't have any facts.
  • 02:57 We only have the expert judgment that is the opinion of the subject matter experts.
  • 03:01 In that case, we can decide on a direction.
  • 03:04 We can decide what we think should be done.
  • 03:06 We should make that decision and then move quickly and efficiently on that path.
  • 03:11 However, at some point in time, we need to confirm that decision with actual facts.
  • 03:16 Now sometimes we have some facts, but the facts are few and far between.
  • 03:21 The situation is still somewhat fluid, and
  • 03:23 each new fact adds another significant piece of information.
  • 03:27 When that is the case, we can usually decide some of our boundaries.
  • 03:32 What I mean by that is we can eliminate some of the options.
  • 03:35 Lets say we're looking at five different possible paths forward.
  • 03:38 But based on the few facts we have, we can now eliminate two options.
  • 03:42 However, we still need to consider three options until we get more facts.
  • 03:47 We definitely are not able to make a final decision.
  • 03:50 Now finally, sometimes there are no facts and
  • 03:52 there's no agreement between the subject matter experts.
  • 03:56 When that's the case, all you can decide on is to do something next.
  • 04:00 Hopefully that something we lead to facts or an agreement of opinion.
  • 04:04 You move forward rather than sitting and doing nothing.
  • 04:08 Sometimes bad decisions are made on a project.
  • 04:11 The typical cause for bad decisions on the part of senior management is ignorance.
  • 04:16 They don't understand how this project interacts with other projects.
  • 04:19 So a decision that is good for one project is devastating on another, or
  • 04:24 the project definition and goals are sometimes unclear.
  • 04:27 Senior management has many projects in their mind, and
  • 04:30 they confuse which project is which.
  • 04:33 Third, they may not understand the demand that each project is making on the same
  • 04:38 pool of resources.
  • 04:39 Because of that, they over-commit the organization.
  • 04:42 The core team, including the project leader, often make bad decisions for
  • 04:46 different reasons.
  • 04:47 Gaps in accountability and
  • 04:49 empowerment lead to the core members not engaging with the rest of the core team.
  • 04:54 Sometimes the problem is that the functional strategy does not align with
  • 04:57 the project goals, and
  • 04:59 the core team member feels that they are caught in the middle.
  • 05:02 They just pick one and undermine the other without finding a way to meet both.
  • 05:07 Of course, on any project there can occasionally be some planning gaps.
  • 05:11 And finally, they may underestimate or fail to recognize risk, which will
  • 05:15 then often lead to a bad decision that must eventually be corrected.
  • 05:20 The third group that sometimes makes bad decisions with respect to projects
  • 05:23 is the functional managers.
  • 05:25 These are the people who are assigned and supervise many of the resource pools
  • 05:29 that are used for doing the work of the project.
  • 05:31 One of the challenges they face is over-commitment.
  • 05:34 They strive to make sure they have work for everyone on their department and
  • 05:38 end up taking on more than they can do.
  • 05:39 Also they often are not aware of unique project requirements due to
  • 05:43 communication breakdown between them and the core team members.
  • 05:49 Decision making is a key element on any project.
  • 05:51 Making wise decisions is crucial to project success.

Lesson notes are only available for subscribers.

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  • 7 important steps in the decision makin ...

7 important steps in the decision making process

Sarah Laoyan contributor headshot

The decision making process is a method of gathering information, assessing alternatives, and making a final choice with the goal of making the best decision possible. In this article, we detail the step-by-step process on how to make a good decision and explain different decision making methodologies.

We make decisions every day. Take the bus to work or call a car? Chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Whole milk or two percent?

There's an entire process that goes into making those tiny decisions, and while these are simple, easy choices, how do we end up making more challenging decisions? 

At work, decisions aren't as simple as choosing what kind of milk you want in your latte in the morning. That’s why understanding the decision making process is so important. 

What is the decision making process?

The decision making process is the method of gathering information, assessing alternatives, and, ultimately, making a final choice. 

Decision-making tools for agile businesses

In this ebook, learn how to equip employees to make better decisions—so your business can pivot, adapt, and tackle challenges more effectively than your competition.

Make good choices, fast: How decision-making processes can help businesses stay agile ebook banner image

The 7 steps of the decision making process

Step 1: identify the decision that needs to be made.

When you're identifying the decision, ask yourself a few questions: 

What is the problem that needs to be solved?

What is the goal you plan to achieve by implementing this decision?

How will you measure success?

These questions are all common goal setting techniques that will ultimately help you come up with possible solutions. When the problem is clearly defined, you then have more information to come up with the best decision to solve the problem.

Step 2: Gather relevant information

​Gathering information related to the decision being made is an important step to making an informed decision. Does your team have any historical data as it relates to this issue? Has anybody attempted to solve this problem before?

It's also important to look for information outside of your team or company. Effective decision making requires information from many different sources. Find external resources, whether it’s doing market research, working with a consultant, or talking with colleagues at a different company who have relevant experience. Gathering information helps your team identify different solutions to your problem.

Step 3: Identify alternative solutions

This step requires you to look for many different solutions for the problem at hand. Finding more than one possible alternative is important when it comes to business decision-making, because different stakeholders may have different needs depending on their role. For example, if a company is looking for a work management tool, the design team may have different needs than a development team. Choosing only one solution right off the bat might not be the right course of action. 

Step 4: Weigh the evidence

This is when you take all of the different solutions you’ve come up with and analyze how they would address your initial problem. Your team begins identifying the pros and cons of each option, and eliminating alternatives from those choices.

There are a few common ways your team can analyze and weigh the evidence of options:

Pros and cons list

SWOT analysis

Decision matrix

Step 5: Choose among the alternatives

The next step is to make your final decision. Consider all of the information you've collected and how this decision may affect each stakeholder. 

Sometimes the right decision is not one of the alternatives, but a blend of a few different alternatives. Effective decision-making involves creative problem solving and thinking out of the box, so don't limit you or your teams to clear-cut options.

One of the key values at Asana is to reject false tradeoffs. Choosing just one decision can mean losing benefits in others. If you can, try and find options that go beyond just the alternatives presented.

Step 6: Take action

Once the final decision maker gives the green light, it's time to put the solution into action. Take the time to create an implementation plan so that your team is on the same page for next steps. Then it’s time to put your plan into action and monitor progress to determine whether or not this decision was a good one. 

Step 7: Review your decision and its impact (both good and bad)

Once you’ve made a decision, you can monitor the success metrics you outlined in step 1. This is how you determine whether or not this solution meets your team's criteria of success.

Here are a few questions to consider when reviewing your decision:

Did it solve the problem your team identified in step 1? 

Did this decision impact your team in a positive or negative way?

Which stakeholders benefited from this decision? Which stakeholders were impacted negatively?

If this solution was not the best alternative, your team might benefit from using an iterative form of project management. This enables your team to quickly adapt to changes, and make the best decisions with the resources they have. 

Types of decision making models

While most decision making models revolve around the same seven steps, here are a few different methodologies to help you make a good decision.

​Rational decision making models

This type of decision making model is the most common type that you'll see. It's logical and sequential. The seven steps listed above are an example of the rational decision making model. 

When your decision has a big impact on your team and you need to maximize outcomes, this is the type of decision making process you should use. It requires you to consider a wide range of viewpoints with little bias so you can make the best decision possible. 

Intuitive decision making models

This type of decision making model is dictated not by information or data, but by gut instincts. This form of decision making requires previous experience and pattern recognition to form strong instincts.

This type of decision making is often made by decision makers who have a lot of experience with similar kinds of problems. They have already had proven success with the solution they're looking to implement. 

Creative decision making model

The creative decision making model involves collecting information and insights about a problem and coming up with potential ideas for a solution, similar to the rational decision making model. 

The difference here is that instead of identifying the pros and cons of each alternative, the decision maker enters a period in which they try not to actively think about the solution at all. The goal is to have their subconscious take over and lead them to the right decision, similar to the intuitive decision making model. 

This situation is best used in an iterative process so that teams can test their solutions and adapt as things change.

Track key decisions with a work management tool

Tracking key decisions can be challenging when not documented correctly. Learn more about how a work management tool like Asana can help your team track key decisions, collaborate with teammates, and stay on top of progress all in one place.

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Make smart project choices with a decision matrix

project decision makers

As a project manager, there will be times you find yourself facing difficult decisions. Sometimes, there’s no obvious right or wrong answer and you need to weigh the pros and cons of each option to make a well-informed choice.

A decision matrix can be a useful tool for helping project managers break down their options and assess them systematically. But what are decision matrices, and how can you use them as part of your next killer project plan ?

In this guide, we’ll look at how a decision matrix and other similar tools, such as the Eisenhower matrix, can assist you when making important decisions. We’ll also look at how’s suite of apps and integrations can help streamline your project management processes.

What is a decision matrix?

A decision matrix is a chart or table that helps project managers understand their available options. Creating a decision matrix requires thinking about the project’s priorities and which factors are most important. In many ways, a decision-making matrix is similar to a list of pros and cons; however, most matrices go deeper than this, assigning relative values to each option and also giving factors different weightings.

For example, if you need to purchase new laptops for members of a specific team, you may wish to consider:

  • Storage space
  • Battery life
  • Processing power
  • Portability

Ideally, you’d want a laptop with high specifications, long battery life, and a low price. Realistically, you’ll likely end up compromising on some factors. If your employees need to run software that has a requirement of 8GB RAM, any laptop with less memory than that would be automatically rejected.

You may have a budget of $10,000 to purchase 10 laptops, so any laptop costing more than $1,000 per unit would also be automatically rejected.

Once you’ve worked out those issues, you can prioritize the others. Let’s imagine these employees spend most of their time in offices, so portability and long battery life are “nice to have,” but not required.

You’ve sought feedback from the team and they’d rather have more processing power and storage space than a sleek, thin device. Therefore, you’ll weigh the laptops that score well in those areas more highly than the ultra-portable models.

“Decision matrix” is a part of our Project Management Glossary — check out the full list of terms and definitions!

Decision matrices vs. other forms

There are several ways of analyzing your options and making decisions. The decision-making matrix is just one option. Other tools include:

  • The Eisenhower matrix

Stakeholder analysis maps


These tools serve a slightly different purpose, as we’re about to explore:

Eisenhower matrices

The Eisenhower decision matrix is used for prioritizing tasks. It uses a 2×2 grid to help prioritize tasks by importance and urgency. If you have a long list of different tasks or issues and need to decide what order to work on them in, this matrix is useful. The Eisenhower matrix divides tasks up into the following categories:

The jobs in the top left quadrant are ones your team should work on as soon as possible. The top right quadrant is also important but can be deferred. Jobs in the lower left quadrant are ones that should be done but can be outsourced or delegated. The lower right quadrant lists jobs that are not a priority and that can be looked at if there’s time, or even ignored.

The stakeholder analysis map is used to categorize stakeholders based on their levels of interest and influence in the project. Knowing who your stakeholders are and how much attention to pay to each group is essential in enterprise project management .

Stakeholders who are both high influence and high interest should be involved in the decision-making process, while those who are low influence and low interest are less important and only need to be informed about major changes. This map doesn’t directly influence the decision-making process, but it can be useful when considering how much stakeholder feedback to take into account.

Brainstorming is often the first step in making any decision. If you need to make decisions about issues where you’re relying on qualitative feedback or simply don’t have much data to go on, brainstorming among your team and talking to key stakeholders can help you reach a consensus on how to progress with the project.

Now that you understand how decision matrices compare to other methods of analyzing options, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of decision matrices and what they might include.

Pros and cons of decision matrices

Using a decision matrix makes a lot of sense if you’re faced with a decision that has a couple of available options, and the criteria you’re weighing are quantitative. This tool is particularly useful for breaking down decisions where you’ve got between three and eight quantitative criteria to consider. Decision matrices are less useful when a decision is being made based on qualitative criteria, or if there’s a long list of criteria to consider.

For simpler decisions where there are just a couple of options and you’re weighing a short list of qualitative criteria, a more traditional list of short pros and cons may be more useful and easier to understand.

For very complex decisions, the decision-making matrix may become unwieldy and difficult to understand. Weighting the importance of specific criteria can assist with the process of interpreting the matrix, but if you’re dealing with more than eight criteria, other tools could be more useful.

A decision matrix is an informative tool that takes the emotion out of major decisions.

What does a decision matrix include?

A decision matrix includes a list of possible options for the project and a list of the factors that go into making the decision. Optionally, it may also include weightings for each factor. For example, if you’re planning a company party at the end of the year, you may need to decide how to transport attendees from multiple sites to the party. Your matrix may look something like this:

decision matrix for transportation

You’d work through the matrix and rate each option on a scale of 1 to 5 for each factor. In this case, a higher score means a better option. For example, having attendees get there on their own using public transit would be the cheapest option, but it might stop people from being able to attend if they can’t get home at the end of the party due to inconvenient bus times.

Using the entertainment budget to rent taxis would be convenient, but also probably expensive and may not be covered by your insurance. As you work through the matrix, you can total the scores for each category, and the option with the highest score is the “best” according to the matrix.

Now that you know the major components of a decision matrix, let’s take a look at how to develop a project with one.

Developing a project with a decision matrix

You can apply a decision matrix to any decision where you have a good idea of the factors that matter the most. Decision matrices aren’t binding documents either, and many project managers use them as simply another tool to help them understand their projects.

For example, you may complete a weighted decision matrix for getting employees to that end-of-year party and discover that renting a minibus is the best option on paper. However, intuitively you may feel that the matrix has come to the wrong conclusion.

If you find yourself feeling that way, that’s a sign you need to reconsider the criteria you put into the matrix. Yes, the minibus is affordable, accessible, and gives you control over timings, but the only company serving your area has old buses that are uncomfortable and unpleasant to ride in for the long journey you have planned.

Comfort wasn’t something you’d put in the matrix at all. As you can see, even if you disagree with the matrix’s conclusions, using one can help you see the issues in your project more clearly. It’s the act of putting your thoughts down on paper in such a systematic way that matters.

Using to create a decision matrix

Creating your first decision matrix can be daunting. Fortunately, there are tools and templates out there to help you. Work OS and its collection of integrations and tools for project management are useful for any project manager who needs some help to get started. helps you take your project management to the next level. Rather than simply relying on Gantt charts , Work OS offers templates, reporting tools, and software integrations to help you communicate more effectively with your team, track the progress of your project , and work more efficiently.

For more decision matrix support, check out our FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions

A decision matrix is a table that lists options as rows and the factors you’d need to consider to make a decision as columns. Each option is given a score for each factor, and the factors can be weighted based on their importance. In theory, the option with the highest score is the best option to take.

Why are decision matrices useful in project management?

Decision matrices remove the emotional aspects of making important decisions and help project managers think systematically about the decisions they’re making.

Managers aren’t bound to obey the results of a decision matrix. If they disagree with the result, this can be taken as a sign to reconsider the weightings awarded to each category.

Inform your project management with decision matrices

Building a decision matrix can give you clarity on which factors should be considered the most closely when making decisions. If you have many quantitative factors to take into account, a decision matrix can guide you towards the best overall option. Take advantage of the integrations and templates from to be prompted through the process of building a decision matrix, stakeholder survey, or other similar tools.

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How to Use a Project Decision Log for Optimal Results


Projects are a series of decisions. Each decision should, ideally, be the result of thorough research, counseling from the team and historic data. Project managers use a decision log to keep stakeholders updated on who authorized a decision and how it came about.

A decision log is a critical communication tool that all project managers need to understand. You can use project management software , templates or simply a notepad to track decisions. But before we get into how to make one, let’s better understand the definition of a project decision log.

What Is a Decision Log?

A decision log is a record of decisions that lead to a choice you make during a project. It can be meeting information, a record or a document of the project—it’s all compiled in a decision log and passed on to the project sponsor.

Communication problems are death to a project. A decision log serves as a communication tool that delivers supporting information to stakeholders. Decisions don’t just happen in scheduled meetings: they can also be made in casual meetings or between a couple of team members. A decision log documents all of that information.

A decision log, therefore, is a list of critical decisions that have been agreed upon over the course of the project. While the project decision log is not used by everyone involved in project management, it has definitely been gaining traction.

Why Do You Need a Decision Log?

Decisions can make or break a project. Stakeholders have a vested interest in the decisions that have been made. Just as they are updated regularly with stakeholder presentations and status reports, a decision log explains why decisions were made and who authorized them.

Documentation is key for projects, and while the mainstream project management world might not have yet fully embraced the decision log, they have used thorough documentation forever. Documentation offers historic data necessary to plan future projects and also acts as part of a risk management plan when looking at decisions.

A decision log can merely be a reminder of the course of action. There are many decisions made during the life cycle of a project, and sometimes people on the project team need a reminder to avoid unnecessary conflict. It also explains who made that decision and why, which can help keep the team from disagreeing.

Having a project decision log be the one source of truth, accessible to all and easy to share with stakeholders is essential to running a successful project. ProjectManager is online software that connects hybrid teams, managers and stakeholders with a real-time work management tool.

Keep your project decision log, change log, issue log, risk log, action log, raid log, risk register or any log you use on the task list view of our software. You can attach files, share them with the team and get notified as new items are added. Join the 35,000-plus users worldwide and get started free with ProjectManager today.

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Elements of a Decision Log

A decision log helps with change analysis because it captures key decision-making data. Basically, it’s like a spreadsheet. Each column notes a specific part of the decision. Here are some of the items that should be included in any decision log:

  • Project name: Keeps all the decisions made in the project together
  • Project manager: The person in charge
  • Identification number: Assign one to each decision to make it easier to refer to
  • Decision Title: Titling a decision differentiates it from others made over the life cycle of the project
  • Date: When you made the decision and any deadlines related to it
  • Area: Which aspect of the project you’re discussing
  • Description: An overview of the decision you’ve made
  • Rationale: The reason for the decision and any comments or disagreements cited
  • Alternatives: Other options you discussed but decided against
  • Expected impact: Briefly outline what you think the decision will change
  • Contributors: List everyone who contributed to the decision
  • Approval signature: The sign-off, usually from the project manager

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Decision Log Example

Let’s make up a theoretical case to go through the process. For our decision log example, let’s contemplate a construction site that is wondering whether to use steel or wood when framing a smaller backhouse to the larger building.

The decision log would have all the data detailed above, such as the project name, the name of the project manager, an ID and the title could be something like “Backhouse Frame.” The people involved would be the project manager, architect and contractor at a minimum.

The discussion might be about price versus safety. Collect these pros and cons and add them to the project decision log. Explore the impact and alternatives, such as how steel would impact the budget and wood might require extra stabilizing elements. It’s a way to go through the best practices and see which is most suited for the project.

Make a decision, jot it down in the log and have the project manager sign off. Then, deliver the document to the stakeholders of the project, say the owner of the property who contracted the work. This gives stakeholders context for the discussion and decision, as well as guides the subcontractors when making the structure.

How to Use a Decision Log

Use a log whenever there’s a decision made in the project. That doesn’t necessarily mean minor decisions, but the more the better. Include any decision that has an impact on the project. Chances are, stakeholders will get upset at some point and demand to know why this, that or the other thing was done. The decision log is a way to communicate to them and also support the decision.

Therefore, a project decision log is not important as you are writing it, but more so when you are put in a position to defend your decision. If you are challenged or a decision is questioned, the log is there to back you up.

If a decision log is revised, it should be noted in the decision record. You want to document that decision as well. Explain why the decision was made and why it was changed. Then, update the log and create a new one reflecting the change.

Decision Log Templates

You can make a decision log yourself on any spreadsheet or even word processing app, but there are lots of free decision log templates that lay it out for you if that’s easier. Here are a few of the more popular ones we found online.


SampleTemplates has over nine different decision log templates for PDF and Word. They cross a number of different industries, so you should be able to find the template that fits your particular needs.


WordTemplatesOnline has free decision log templates for Excel, Word and a PDF. They offer a variety of different log templates for various kinds of business meetings, such as guidelines and principles for retirement plans, one that captures key decisions and risks and others that include priority, status and more.

Of course, templates are static and can’t be used for effective collaboration. Rather than use a decision log template, it’s better to use software to manage your decisions and track your project changes.

How ProjectManager Helps With Decision Logs

ProjectManager is cloud-based work management software that connects hybrid teams and helps them work more productively. With multiple project views to suit everyone’s work style and real-time data to foster collaboration and better monitor projects, ProjectManager is also a great way to track decision-making.

Use Dashboards to Track KPIs

Before you can make a decision, you need data to give you better insight into the problem. ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard and one-click reports collect project metrics automatically. The dashboard tracks time, cost, workload and more, giving you an instant status report.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

Create Visual Workflows with Kanban Boards

Instead of using a static template as your decision log, use the kanban board view . A kanban board is a visual tool that shows workflow. You can set up each column as one of the categories on your decision log and the cards can capture the relevant data. Then, you can use the feature to assign and track the progress of that change after it’s been authorized.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Follow Your Plan on Gantt Charts

In fact, you can plan all the changes made to your project with ProjectManager’s Gantt chart. Just toggle from the kanban to the Gantt chart view and you’ll see the work laid out on a project timeline. Now you can add dependencies, filter for the critical path and set a baseline to track your planned effort against your actual effort.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

ProjectManager is award-winning software that connects teams no matter where they are, what department they work in or their skill level, and gives them the tools to work better together. Our work management software has resource management tools, timesheets and more to help you work more efficiently. Join teams at NASA, Nestles and Siemens who already are using our software. Get started with ProjectManager now.

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MoSCoW Prioritization

What is moscow prioritization.

MoSCoW prioritization, also known as the MoSCoW method or MoSCoW analysis, is a popular prioritization technique for managing requirements. 

  The acronym MoSCoW represents four categories of initiatives: must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have, or will not have right now. Some companies also use the “W” in MoSCoW to mean “wish.”

What is the History of the MoSCoW Method?

Software development expert Dai Clegg created the MoSCoW method while working at Oracle. He designed the framework to help his team prioritize tasks during development work on product releases.

You can find a detailed account of using MoSCoW prioritization in the Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM) handbook . But because MoSCoW can prioritize tasks within any time-boxed project, teams have adapted the method for a broad range of uses.

How Does MoSCoW Prioritization Work?

Before running a MoSCoW analysis, a few things need to happen. First, key stakeholders and the product team need to get aligned on objectives and prioritization factors. Then, all participants must agree on which initiatives to prioritize.

At this point, your team should also discuss how they will settle any disagreements in prioritization. If you can establish how to resolve disputes before they come up, you can help prevent those disagreements from holding up progress.

Finally, you’ll also want to reach a consensus on what percentage of resources you’d like to allocate to each category.

With the groundwork complete, you may begin determining which category is most appropriate for each initiative. But, first, let’s further break down each category in the MoSCoW method.

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Moscow prioritization categories.


1. Must-have initiatives

As the name suggests, this category consists of initiatives that are “musts” for your team. They represent non-negotiable needs for the project, product, or release in question. For example, if you’re releasing a healthcare application, a must-have initiative may be security functionalities that help maintain compliance.

The “must-have” category requires the team to complete a mandatory task. If you’re unsure about whether something belongs in this category, ask yourself the following.


If the product won’t work without an initiative, or the release becomes useless without it, the initiative is most likely a “must-have.”

2. Should-have initiatives

Should-have initiatives are just a step below must-haves. They are essential to the product, project, or release, but they are not vital. If left out, the product or project still functions. However, the initiatives may add significant value.

“Should-have” initiatives are different from “must-have” initiatives in that they can get scheduled for a future release without impacting the current one. For example, performance improvements, minor bug fixes, or new functionality may be “should-have” initiatives. Without them, the product still works.

3. Could-have initiatives

Another way of describing “could-have” initiatives is nice-to-haves. “Could-have” initiatives are not necessary to the core function of the product. However, compared with “should-have” initiatives, they have a much smaller impact on the outcome if left out.

So, initiatives placed in the “could-have” category are often the first to be deprioritized if a project in the “should-have” or “must-have” category ends up larger than expected.

4. Will not have (this time)

One benefit of the MoSCoW method is that it places several initiatives in the “will-not-have” category. The category can manage expectations about what the team will not include in a specific release (or another timeframe you’re prioritizing).

Placing initiatives in the “will-not-have” category is one way to help prevent scope creep . If initiatives are in this category, the team knows they are not a priority for this specific time frame. 

Some initiatives in the “will-not-have” group will be prioritized in the future, while others are not likely to happen. Some teams decide to differentiate between those by creating a subcategory within this group.

How Can Development Teams Use MoSCoW?

  Although Dai Clegg developed the approach to help prioritize tasks around his team’s limited time, the MoSCoW method also works when a development team faces limitations other than time. For example: 

Prioritize based on budgetary constraints.

What if a development team’s limiting factor is not a deadline but a tight budget imposed by the company? Working with the product managers, the team can use MoSCoW first to decide on the initiatives that represent must-haves and the should-haves. Then, using the development department’s budget as the guide, the team can figure out which items they can complete. 

Prioritize based on the team’s skillsets.

A cross-functional product team might also find itself constrained by the experience and expertise of its developers. If the product roadmap calls for functionality the team does not have the skills to build, this limiting factor will play into scoring those items in their MoSCoW analysis.

Prioritize based on competing needs at the company.

Cross-functional teams can also find themselves constrained by other company priorities. The team wants to make progress on a new product release, but the executive staff has created tight deadlines for further releases in the same timeframe. In this case, the team can use MoSCoW to determine which aspects of their desired release represent must-haves and temporarily backlog everything else.

What Are the Drawbacks of MoSCoW Prioritization?

  Although many product and development teams have prioritized MoSCoW, the approach has potential pitfalls. Here are a few examples.

1. An inconsistent scoring process can lead to tasks placed in the wrong categories.

  One common criticism against MoSCoW is that it does not include an objective methodology for ranking initiatives against each other. Your team will need to bring this methodology to your analysis. The MoSCoW approach works only to ensure that your team applies a consistent scoring system for all initiatives.

Pro tip: One proven method is weighted scoring, where your team measures each initiative on your backlog against a standard set of cost and benefit criteria. You can use the weighted scoring approach in ProductPlan’s roadmap app .

2. Not including all relevant stakeholders can lead to items placed in the wrong categories.

To know which of your team’s initiatives represent must-haves for your product and which are merely should-haves, you will need as much context as possible.

For example, you might need someone from your sales team to let you know how important (or unimportant) prospective buyers view a proposed new feature.

One pitfall of the MoSCoW method is that you could make poor decisions about where to slot each initiative unless your team receives input from all relevant stakeholders. 

3. Team bias for (or against) initiatives can undermine MoSCoW’s effectiveness.

Because MoSCoW does not include an objective scoring method, your team members can fall victim to their own opinions about certain initiatives. 

One risk of using MoSCoW prioritization is that a team can mistakenly think MoSCoW itself represents an objective way of measuring the items on their list. They discuss an initiative, agree that it is a “should have,” and move on to the next.

But your team will also need an objective and consistent framework for ranking all initiatives. That is the only way to minimize your team’s biases in favor of items or against them.

When Do You Use the MoSCoW Method for Prioritization?

MoSCoW prioritization is effective for teams that want to include representatives from the whole organization in their process. You can capture a broader perspective by involving participants from various functional departments.

Another reason you may want to use MoSCoW prioritization is it allows your team to determine how much effort goes into each category. Therefore, you can ensure you’re delivering a good variety of initiatives in each release.

What Are Best Practices for Using MoSCoW Prioritization?

If you’re considering giving MoSCoW prioritization a try, here are a few steps to keep in mind. Incorporating these into your process will help your team gain more value from the MoSCoW method.

1. Choose an objective ranking or scoring system.

Remember, MoSCoW helps your team group items into the appropriate buckets—from must-have items down to your longer-term wish list. But MoSCoW itself doesn’t help you determine which item belongs in which category.

You will need a separate ranking methodology. You can choose from many, such as:

  • Weighted scoring
  • Value vs. complexity
  • Buy-a-feature
  • Opportunity scoring

For help finding the best scoring methodology for your team, check out ProductPlan’s article: 7 strategies to choose the best features for your product .

2. Seek input from all key stakeholders.

To make sure you’re placing each initiative into the right bucket—must-have, should-have, could-have, or won’t-have—your team needs context. 

At the beginning of your MoSCoW method, your team should consider which stakeholders can provide valuable context and insights. Sales? Customer success? The executive staff? Product managers in another area of your business? Include them in your initiative scoring process if you think they can help you see opportunities or threats your team might miss. 

3. Share your MoSCoW process across your organization.

MoSCoW gives your team a tangible way to show your organization prioritizing initiatives for your products or projects. 

The method can help you build company-wide consensus for your work, or at least help you show stakeholders why you made the decisions you did.

Communicating your team’s prioritization strategy also helps you set expectations across the business. When they see your methodology for choosing one initiative over another, stakeholders in other departments will understand that your team has thought through and weighed all decisions you’ve made. 

If any stakeholders have an issue with one of your decisions, they will understand that they can’t simply complain—they’ll need to present you with evidence to alter your course of action.  

Related Terms

2×2 prioritization matrix / Eisenhower matrix / DACI decision-making framework / ICE scoring model / RICE scoring model

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Module 6. Core project governance principles

Learning objectives:

  • conceptually map similarities between corporate governance and project management governance
  • advise on key principle of project management governance
  • exhibit key performance indicators for effective corporate and project governance
  • synthesise the role of the project manager, project team and the PMO or the board within the planning of project management governance.

In previous modules we have introduced project governance and asset management (AM), aiming to provide you with an understanding of what governance includes and how to achieve good project governance. In this module, we will discuss the core or fundamental project governance principles. At its core, good project governance is based on people, structure, and information (OGC, 2009).

Project governance supports decision-making within a project. It is based on defining clear accountabilities and responsibilities, and is therefore crucial to achieving project outcomes. Consequently, good project governance provides logical, robust, and repeatable decision-making processes, ensuring a structured approach is adopted.

The literature highlights that project governance is fundamentally a set of relationships between key stakeholders, including the project manager, sponsor, owner, and key decision-makers (Turner, 2006). Thus, by setting a clear structure at the project onset and determining S.M.A.R.T objectives, we are in a better position to achieve effective project outcomes and monitor the project’s performance.

According to Turner (2006), there are three specific levels of governance within projects:

  • Corporate: This is the central authority or decision-maker, and could include a board of directors or a committee that supports decision-making. This encapsulates the corporate governance requirements that each project must adhere to.
  • Strategic: A broader context is provided as to why certain projects are undertaken and others are not.
  • Project: Governance structures must exist at individual levels, supporting project delivery.

Corporate governance

Irrelevant of the size of an organisation, principles on project governance are set and based on the components of the organisation’s corporate governance principles. Corporate governance sets the management requirements for relationships across stakeholders and key decision-makers within and outside the organisation, providing a structure for which an organisation sets objectives, strategies and means to implementing and monitoring them (OECD, 2004).

According to the OECD (2004), good governance for organisations includes eight primary principles:

  • roles and responsibilities
  • accountability
  • disclosure and transparency
  • risk management and control
  • decision-making
  • performance and effectiveness
  • implementation of strategy.

These principles of good governance can be applied to project governance and set a good framework for the implementation of governance across both organisations and projects. However, there needs to be a separation between the project governance and organisational governance structures. The project structure needs to be precise, clear and provide mechanisms to support decision-making. Documentation needs to be completed, and provide clarity of decision-making (Garland, 2009). Therefore, we can establish that the adoption of clear governance principles should  support decision-making, reduce time delays and budgetary inefficiencies. It will ensure that project decision-making is simple to follow and that it can be completed in a timely manner (Garland, 2009).

Core project governance

This module outlines eight core project governance principles, which have been adapted from the OECD corporate governance principles. There are various frameworks in the literature; however, we considered these eight principles appropriate, as well as pragmatic, within the field of project management.

Principle 1: Clear definitions of roles and responsibilities

The establishment of clear project roles and responsibilities is a vital step to the success of a project. The assignment of roles should include definitions of accountabilities, responsibilities, and performance criteria. When assigning these roles, anyone who is involved in the project should be documented and their interest and influence in the project needs to be considered. Therefore, stakeholder management is crucial to the development of these roles and responsibilities documents.

(1) Establish who has overall responsibility for the governance of the project management. This could be the project manager, project team, PMO or the board (it can also be a combination of these). Documentation of these roles and responsibilities can be shown through a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrix (example in Figure 16) or through a roles and responsibilities matrix (example in Figure 17).

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(2) Identification of the roles, responsibilities, and performance criteria for the project team members. Key roles to be defined:

  • The project sponsor is the person who is responsible for overseeing and ensuring project success. This includes the appointment of a project manager and their team, outlining the success criteria and ensuring successful project delivery (Tasmanian Government, 2008). They have three principal groups they are accountable for and to: the board, project manager, and project stakeholders.
  • The board, steering committee, or governance committee is the primary body within the defined organisational and project governance structure (Tasmanian Government, 2008). They are responsible for responding to issues and risks which arise or could affect the project outcomes. A key role of this group is to ensure the outcomes of the project are met.
  • The project manager is broad and flexible. They are responsible for overseeing the end-to-end management of a project. This includes resolving issues, determining tasks, sub-tasks, and activities, completing documentation, and monitoring and controlling the project (PMI, 2022b). There is no one-size-fits-all project manager definition. They report to and work with the PMO, governance committee, sponsor, project team and broader stakeholders.
  • Project stakeholders are those individuals, groups or organisations who are either actively involved with the project, or who have interests in the outcome of the project (either positive or negative), or both (PMI, 2022a; APM, 2009). These stakeholders need to be engaged and communicated with as per a stakeholder management plan, each stakeholder will have different expectations of their roles and responsibilities within a project. Discussions with stakeholders should be held early in the project to establish their requirements, and updates are to be made throughout when roles change.
  • The project team are those individuals who are working interdependently (or as a collective) to meet a common goal and who share specific responsibilities for outcomes of the project they are working towards (Sundstrom et al., 1990).

(3) Establishing relationships between all internal and external stakeholders who are involved in the project. This includes describing the flow of information and communication between these stakeholders. Development of a project stakeholder management plan can support this.

Principle 1 provides a clear outline of the roles and responsibilities of key members of the project team, decision-makers and relevant stakeholders, which feeds directly into Principle 2.

Principle 2: Single point of accountability for project success

A single point of accountability is vital to the success of any project. Through a single point, there is a clear understanding of who can approve each change and the process for leadership, and there is one person or group who is responsible for driving problem solutions. It is not enough to formally recognise just anyone as the accountable party. They must have the authority to make decisions within the organisation and they must be held accountable. To achieve this accountability, there should be agreed-upon criteria as well as agreement on formal governance arrangements. This includes clear allocation of authority for representing project owners, stakeholders, and other interested parties. Principle 2 links back to Principle 1 in ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly articulated.

The accountable officer or group should understand the terms of their roles and responsibilities, support stakeholder engagement, establish key performance indicators, and oversee project performance. Accountability parameters should be detailed in the Project Governance Plan to remain in place for the entire project (distinct to a Project Management Plan which is more detailed and only comes into existence during the development of the project).

Projects have many stakeholders and an effective project governance framework must address their needs. The next principle deals with the way this should occur.

Principle 3: Provision of transparency

Transparency in project governance processes provides visibility to how the project is progressing, including the quality of work being completed, any issues or risks and changes made (Hassim et al., 2011). Through visibility, stakeholders and sponsors have greater confidence in, and understanding of, the project management process (Danturthi, 2016). Transparency provides a mechanism for project team members to access relevant information in an easy and efficient manner (Danturthi, 2016). Information that may be of interest to the project team includes:

  • Budget – allowing the team members to be aware of the amount they can spend and their work budget, ensuring they are completing what is expected of them.
  • Schedule – ensuring they are on track with what was outlined within the timeline.
  • Communication – clear manner for engaging stakeholders, through information that is both accurate and timely.
  • Issues/risks that arise and how they were managed – shared problem-solving can be achieved by providing stakeholders and other project teams with information of issues that have arisen.

Transparency in project governance provides managers and sponsors with a heightened sense of responsibility to achieve outcomes (Danturthi, 2016). Principle 3 means that decisions and changes made are done in alignment with project roles and responsibilities, ensuring that they are documented and easily accessible to project team members and relevant stakeholders. This principle also requires that enough information is provided, that the information is also accurate, easy to understand and timely.  

Principle 4: Risk management and control

Risk management and control within projects is the process of identifying, analysing and responding to risks that can arise during the project life cycle (Chapman & Ward, 1996). This forms a key part of governance, by ensuring that there is an appropriate review of risks which are encountered within the project (Raz & Michael, 2001). The process is not only reactive, it should be proactive, through the identification and planning of potential risks throughout the project lifecycle. Following the ISO 31000 risk management standard (ISO, 2018).

Risks are defined as anything which could impact a project’s schedule, performance, budget, or scope (Raz & Michael, 2001). There are different ways to manage risks within projects, including extensive and detailed planning for complex projects which outline mitigation strategies and treatment options. Conversely, risk management for simple projects can be a prioritised list of risks that are evaluated as high, medium, or low priority and influence.

The development of a risk management plan requires a clear project scope statement, to support the identification of risks (Raz & Michael, 2001). Each risk identified should be logged within a risk matrix, which helps in the prioritisation of the different risks, including if they will have a positive or negative impact on the outcomes. This is accompanied by the actions planned to mitigate the identified risks. The risk management plan should establish the review process, frequency of review and who is accountable.

Principle 5: Clear decision-making and change management process

Clear decision-making and change management processes are vital to ensuring the management of the project is effective and efficient. The decision-making process should outline the clear roles and responsibilities of the team, including who has the authority to make decisions and how they need to be documented and communicated (Garland, 2008). There needs to be consistency in the decision-making process applied to the requirements, policies and procedures provided by the organisation.

The change management process should flow from the decision-making process, whereby, the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, along with the levels of authority of different decision makers. Within the change management process, the level of authority may be based on different criteria (Muller, 2009; Renz, 2007). For example, financial value, schedule impact, detail of scope change, response to risks or environmental changes are factors that influence authority levels. These criteria need to be set and documented at the beginning of the project. This will reduce complexity, confusion, and conflict by setting appropriate authorisation processes. Within the process, it should clearly dictate that approvals are required for each change.

Principle 6: Ethics

Each project should be based on ethical considerations and rules of law within the countries in which the projects are performed, operated or applied. Ethics within projects ensure that each accountable officer is doing work or making decisions in line with their legal competence and obligations, along with organisational governance requirements (OECD, 2004; UN, 2008).

Projects should be following the rule of law, ensuring that fair and legal frameworks are enforced impartially for all aspects of the project (including management, team performance management and resource use and allocation) (UN, 2008).

Best practices of project governance will provide equitable and inclusive outcomes and management planning processes (UN, 2008). It is important that every team member and most stakeholders feel that their views and expectations are considered and that they are not excluded. This requires all groups, including those most vulnerable, to be offered opportunities to share their views.

Principle 7: Project and project team performance and effectiveness

Project and project team baselines must be set to measure performance and effectiveness of the project team against, for example, scope, budget or schedule. By defining the criteria and frequency of measurement at the beginning of the project, reporting performance of the project status to stakeholders and sponsors will be managed as part of the process. The escalation and management of risks and issues as they arise will be shared in reporting processes.

Project team performance reporting should be shared if the team is working as efficiently and effectively as possible. These updates should share the time taken to achieve goals, and the cost to achieve these goals and outcomes and if they are in line with the plan. If not, why are they not in line? This requires the team to critically analyse their performance and share updates on what work they are prioritising and why.

Organisations who foster a culture of continuous improvement and sharing project successes and failures are more successful organisations and have greater levels of project success. This includes  fostering trust and collaborative problem-solving processes with stakeholders (APM, 2004).

The reporting process should occur at all stages of the project, identifying how the project team and managers plan to realise the benefits of the project. Additionally, these updates should be timely, realistic, accurate and based on data (e.g., progress, achievements, forecasting and risks). This should utilise a mechanism to develop an independent review of how the project is going, what the aims are and how they are going to get there. Principle 7 should occur throughout the project and be a key component of Principle 8.

Principle 8: Implementation of governance processes

Implementation of project governance should be built into the project management plan, with specific authorisation points. These decisions should be documented and communicated to relevant stakeholders and project team members. Key components of implementation of governance and principles of project governance include:

  • Creation of an agreed upon project business case, which outlines the project objectives, roles and responsibilities of team members and stakeholders, and the various resources and inputs required to obtain the project objectives.
  • Authorisation points within the project plan need to provide clearly defined decision-makers, who have control over specific components of the project (e.g., change management).
  • Project managers and leaders need to identify similar projects that are underway, which can support the use of resources and reduce conflict and inefficiencies.
  • Formal agreements should be in place, defining processes for asset management.

Within the implementation principle, there is also a need to evaluate, review and implement improvements to support better governance processes in future projects. This can be achieved through learning and adopting new governance procedures. As governance is a process constantly being changed, reviewed, and improved, it is important to learn from mistakes or lessons learned and implement new or improved knowledge and skills (APM, 2007). Additionally, an education process should be implemented as part of the project team development stage (APM, 2007). This will ensure that all team members have the relevant skills and knowledge to implement project governance.

Reading:  “Who has the D?: How clear decision roles enhance organizational performance”

Let’s read what Paul Rogers and Marcia W. Blenko have to say about the roles of decision-makers. Think about the requirements of governance while reading this article published by Harvard Business Review.

Click here to read the paper

Governance of project management principles

It is critical to highlight that according to the Association of Project Management (APM), there are 11 governance of project management principles (see Table 3), which support overarching corporate and project governance. This incorporates the above listed principles as well as methodologies, tools and activities which are used to support the ongoing and day-to-day management of the projects within an organisation (APM, 2004).

Table 3. Governance of project management principles (APM, 2004, p. 6)

According to APM (2004), by following these principles to support governance of project management, along with the corporate and overarching governance principles, organisations can avoid common project failures. You are probably familiar with some of these, which include:

  • unclear link to strategic priorities
  • poorly defined roles and responsibilities
  • ineffective stakeholder engagement
  • lack of project and risk management skills
  • poor budgeting
  • project breakdown unclear and ill-defined.

As a project manager and efficient project leader, adopting these principles will provide you and your team with guidance for best practices of project management governance. We recommend that these principles are used in conjunction with and as a support mechanism alongside the organisation’s selected project approaches and methodologies.

Test Your Knowledge

Key Takeaways

  • Project governance is the management framework within which project decisions are made.
  • According to  A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) , project governance is an “oversight function that is aligned with the organisation’s governance model and encompasses the project life cycle.”
  • Project governance is often referred to as the three key pillars — structure, people, and information.

APM. (2004). Directing change: A guide to governance of project management. Association for Project Management.

APM. (2007). Co-Directing Change: A guide to the governance of multi owned projects. Association for Project Management.

APM. ( 2009). Sponsoring change: A guide to the governance aspects of project sponsorship . Association for Project Management.

Chapman. C., & Ward, S. ( 1996). Project risk management: Processes, techniques and insights. John Wiley.

Danturthi, R. S. (2008). Transparency in project management. Project Management Institute.

Garland, R. (2009). Project governance: A practical guide to effective project decision making. Kogan Page.

Hassim, A., Kajewski, D., & Trigunarsyah, B. (2011). The importance of project governance framework in project procurement planning. The Twelfth East Asia-Pacific Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction , 14 , 1929-1937.

ISO. (2018). ISO 31000: Risk management guideline s.

Müller, R. (2009). Project governanc e. Gower Publishing.

OGC. (2009). Managing successful projects with PRINCE2 . TSO

OECD. (2004). OECD Principles of corporate governance . OECD.

PMI. (2022a). Stakeholder analysis pivotal practice projects. Project Management Insititute.

PMI. (2022b). Who are project managers? Project Management Insititute.

Raz. T., & Michael. E. (2001). Use and benefits of tools for project risk management. International Journal of Project Management , 19 , 9-17.

Renz, P. S. (2007). Project governance: Implementing corporate governance and business ethics in nonprofit organizations . Physica-Verl.

Sundstrom, E., De Meuse, K. P., & Futrell, D. (1990). Work teams: Applications and effectiveness. American Psychologist , 45 (2), 120–133.

Tasmanian Government. (2008). Project management fact sheet: Steering committee “nuts and bolts”. Tasmanian Government.

United Nations. (2008). What is good governance? UNESCAP. .

A Manual for Project Governance and Asset Management Copyright © 2022 by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What is a MoSCoW Analysis? Definition, Use Guide, and Analysis

By Paul VanZandt

Published on: July 26, 2023

MoSCoW Analysis

Table of Contents

What is a Moscow Analysis?

Moscow analysis use guide, how to do a moscow analysis.

Prioritization and organization are two essential elements in creating a successful project and are also things that are inherently harder to achieve online. While prioritizing elements can be hard online, it doesn’t have to be. The Moscow analysis is a great tool for teams to collaborate on through online whiteboards and has takeaways that are applicable to a variety of different projects and teams.

In this article, we will define the Moscow analysis and talk about what makes it so helpful to teams everywhere. If you are interested in reading some of our other template guides, you can check out our most recent guides on design thinking and using a business model canvas here.

A Moscow analysis , also known as Moscow prioritization, is defined as an organizational framework that helps clarify and prioritize features or requirements for a given project. By creating boundaries for the priorities, teams are able to narrow their focus and create direct and achievable goals.

Moscow is an acronym that stands for the four categories that various features can be sorted into. These categories are: Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have These four categories determine the prioritization of the corresponding features and are a marker of their importance to the overall success and continuity of the project.

  • Must-haves: These are the essential requirements that must be included in the project or product. If any of these requirements are not met, the project or product cannot be considered successful.
  • Should-haves: These are important requirements that should be included if possible. They are not absolutely critical but add significant value to the project or product.
  • Could-haves: These are requirements that are nice to have, but they are not critical. They can be considered if time and resources allow but can be deferred if necessary.
  • Won’t-haves: These are requirements that are explicitly out of scope for the current project or product. These requirements are not currently under consideration.

Moscow short

While the Moscow analysis is most often used to organize a project and its required elements, it can also be used in other scenarios . For example, Moscow prioritization can be applied to better align a team with its values and expectations. It can also be used to prioritize takeaways and next steps from an important meeting. Its main goal is the help visualize the prioritization of the tasks at hand.

These use cases demonstrate the flexibility of the Moscow prioritization to break down important requirements into simple prioritized areas, whether it be for team expectations or a project sprint.

As previously stated, the Moscow analysis consists of four major elements. These categories are explained below alongside some questions to guide what should be included in each category. For the sake of simplicity, we will use a project prioritization for reference.

This section is where you think about the core features that are necessary to the success of the project. Must have features are things that, if absent, would compromise the project as a whole. Without these features, the project would have an entirely different function and wouldn’t serve the intended purpose.

Must have features, while being the most important things to consider, should not account for every detail that will be present in the final version. The features in must have, should have, and could have should all be major considerations to be included in the project, so try and be very specific with the features you add in each section.

Some prompting questions to ask in this section could be:

  • What features are absolutely essential and cannot be replaced?
  • If removed, would the project achieve the same purpose?
  • Will the delivery of the project be a success without this feature?

Should Have

Should have is where the project begins to become more nuanced in its prioritization. Should have features include those that are supplemental to the must have features, things customers have vocalized interest in, and other features that would make meaningful additions to the project.

Should have features should be thought of as just a step below must have. These features, while important, could be pushed to a later release while the must have features are absolutely essential. Without these things, the project will still work, but it will be better with them.

Some prompting questions to ask in this section could be;

  • How does this feature compare to the must have features? What about the could have features?
  • What is a helpful but not required feature?
  • How would the project function if this feature is omitted?

Priority list

Could have features are often misunderstood and get lumped with random possible additions. This section is meant to highlight features that you want to include but aren’t sure if they will be possible.

Could have features are even a step lower on the prioritization of should have features due to either time or substantive restraints. These are features that would be nice additions, but might not directly impact the core function of the product.

  • What would be a useful tool to add that isn’t a priority?
  • What is something that you’d like to add in the future?
  • How would this feature impact the overall product?

Won’t have is one of the most important sections in the analysis. It defines all of the features and points that specifically will not be included in the project release. This section is critical because it narrows the scope of the project greatly and helps define the boundaries that must be followed to achieve a successful project.

In order to have a helpful won’t have section, you need to plan not only the project you’re working on but future projects and parallel endeavors as well. By thinking about what comes in the future and what exists outside of the current release, you are able to narrow the scope of the current project.

  • What features will be purposefully left out of this project?
  • What is being avoided or postponed for a future release?
  • What features fall outside of this releases specific scope?

Learn more: SWOT Analysis Framework

MOSCOW analysis helps teams make informed decisions about what to prioritize and what can be deferred or excluded, leading to more effective project or product development. Here’s how to perform a MOSCOW analysis:

  • Identify Stakeholders: Gather the key stakeholders and decision-makers involved in the project or product development. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of their needs and expectations.
  • List Requirements or Features: Make a comprehensive list of all the potential requirements or features that have been proposed for the project or product. This list can come from user stories, feature requests, or other sources.
  • Categorize Requirements: For each requirement or feature, categorize it into one of the four MOSCOW categories (Must-have, Should-have, Could-have, or Won’t-have). You can do this collaboratively with the stakeholders, using their input to make informed decisions.
  • Prioritize Must-Haves: Focus on the “Must-have” category and ensure that these requirements are prioritized above all else. These are the non-negotiable elements of the project.
  • Prioritize Should-Haves: Once the Must-haves are defined, move on to the “Should-have” category and prioritize these based on their relative importance and impact on the project or product.
  • Consider Could-Haves: Evaluate the “Could-have” category and decide which of these features or requirements are feasible to include, given the available resources and time.
  • Exclude Won’t-Haves: Ensure that the “Won’t-have” category is clearly communicated and understood. These are the features or requirements that will not be addressed in the current project or product.
  • Document the Analysis: Record the results of the MOSCOW analysis in a document or spreadsheet so that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the prioritization decisions.
  • Review and Iterate: Periodically review and update the MOSCOW analysis as the project or product evolves. Changes in scope or stakeholder priorities may necessitate adjustments.

Learn more: What is PESTEL Analysis?

Using a Moscow analysis is one of the best ways to improve the alignment of a team and understand the prioritization of the project at hand. While these templates are mainly used for product management, they are extremely versatile and can be applied to many different scenarios .

Hopefully, this guide has been helpful, and if so make sure to check out our other posts around online whiteboards and visual collaboration if you want to learn more about how to interact and collaborate online.

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I Tried 10 AI Project Management Tools to See if They’re Worth It (Results & Recommendations)

Published: February 14, 2024

AI project management tools simplify decision-making, keep projects rolling, and streamline communications. Pick the right project management tool, and you could save hundreds — even thousands — per year.

women use ai project management tools

I started in digital project management nine years ago, and AI project management tools were unheard of. The project management role was different than it is today.

Project managers were doing a lot of manual admin and repetitive tasks while keeping everything together and bringing those all-important soft skills to clients and internal teams who were busy getting the job done.

It was a lot. If you’re reading this, you might still be working like that: more spreadsheets than you can bear to think about, project managers stressed with deliverables and shaky briefs, leaving the team to use their best guess.

Today, my workflow relies on AI tools to keep my clients and team happy.

Sign Up to Try HubSpot's AI Tools

The tools take much of the project management, leaving me and the team with the mental capacity to do what humans do best: build and nurture relationships, send thoughtful updates, and deliver even faster than we could ten years ago.

With the right AI tool, your workflow could look more streamlined with happier staff at work.

Naturally, the AI project management tool you select will depend on how you want to use it, but this article should give you a solid guide for choosing the right AI project management tool for you.

I’ve included my review of each tool, how I found it, the AI features, the price, and who I think it’s best for.

What does AI project management software do?

Testing ai project management tools, the scenario, 10 ai project management software.

AI project management software can help manage and organize projects and teams.

They’re commonly used for automating routine tasks, managing production schedules, storing files against projects and tasks, and providing a central hub with all content related to a project.

With the rise of AI, you can automate workflows, remove decision fatigue with predictive analysis, bolster productivity, and essentially hire a digital assistant who’s there to support you every day.

Project management tools are worth every penny and will pay for themselves in productivity. But if you’re worried about budgets, plenty of brilliant free project management tools exist.

I’ve tested AI project management and many other marketing tools for years. I have to admit it: I love trying and testing tools.

It’s almost a problem because, in the digital world, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by choice and distracted by the next amazing new development.

But I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. In fact, I committed myself to try more tools in the future.

Embracing the development of new tools is a fast track to an easier life, a streamlined business, and a to-do list that is as satisfying as it is productive. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s not just me saying this.

Of those surveyed in Hubspot’s State of AI report , respondents estimated they save two hours and 24 minutes per day when using AI compared to not. Automating manual tasks is estimated to save two hours and 16 minutes per day.

The time saved using AI is significant. All you need to do is find the one that suits you and your needs, and I’ve run extensive tests to help you out.

When I’m testing AI project management tools, I want a tool that:

  • Feels intuitive to use.
  • Manages projects, tasks, and sub-tasks.
  • Makes my team feel happy (and not overwhelmed!).
  • Streamlines communications related to projects and/or tasks.
  • Has integration options so that my business can scale with the tool.

I judged the tools tested in this article by these factors:

  • How well the tool replicates or replaces human action.
  • AI functionality.

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The scenario is close to my actual life as a marketer. I run many projects with fully remote teams internally and externally (my team and the client’s team).

We all need to work harmoniously in a central location.

The project needs to be well structured with some flexibility for changes. All team members need to add comments, set tasks, and have some accountability tracking to keep the project moving.

Finally, the AI project management tools must take some elements of the project. These tasks must be monotonous, undesirable for the humans involved, and safe enough for AI intervention.

AI project manager software; Asana

  • Individuals get started for free (This is all I’ve needed in the past, but now I have outgrown it)
  • Starter package is $10.99 per user a month, billed annually
  • Advanced package is $24.99 per user a month, billed annually
  • Traditional project management without customization
  • Small teams and individuals

AI project management tools, ClickUp

How I Discovered Trello

Trello was a tool I used many years ago. It was the first project management tool I was introduced to in 2011. I used Trello to manage content as part of a small marketing agency.

How Trello Supported My Project Management

I still use Trello today. It’s in my project management arsenal, even with Asana for client projects.

I like Trello because it is simple. For clients who don’t have many projects, I turn to Trello. It’s intuitive and easy to use, people get on board with it quickly, and the free package is enough for how I use it.

I don’t think Trello suits companies looking to scale, but it's perfect for small projects or teams.

Strategy AI

Tello’s Strategy AI helps with general project management and productivity. You can use the software to control who sees what project, and projects or tasks are marked with priority to keep the team working on the most important tasks first.

Trello is one of the cheapest project management tools. It is also one of the most simple.

  • Get started for free
  • Standard is $5 a user per month, billed annually
  • Premium is $10 a user per month, billed annually
  • Enterprise is from $7.38 a user per month, depending on seat quantity, billed annually
  • Small teams
  • Individuals
  • Small and few projects
  • Content management

ai project management tools, Motion

How OneCal Supported My Project Management

While OneCal isn’t managing projects, it is keeping my workload manageable and the monotony of checking multiple calendars at bay. This means I can go to any calendar for an accurate display of what’s happening in all of my calendars.

Ultimately, it saves me a lot of time and rids me of calendar anxiety.

For those who don’t use Motion, OneCal also has a booking system.

Calendar Syncing

Once you’ve integrated OneCal with your calendars, you’ll have synced calendars everywhere .

Booking Links

You can set up a booking system so your meeting guests can book a slot in your calendar at a time that suits you (and them!).

With this system, you can set buffer times and avoid back-to-back meetings, and your guests can easily see available slots in their time zones.

  • Starter is just $4 a month billed annually (this is all I needed)
  • Essential $8.30 a month billed annually
  • Premium $25 a month billed annually
  • Anyone using multiple calendars or wanting to streamline the meeting booking process

AI project management tools, Notion

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Eight prompts to work through your emotions and implement a plan you disagree with.

In our work, there are times when we lead but there are also times when we must follow — and we may not always agree with the path we’re told to follow. We may feel “stuck” in anger, anxiety, and confusion. But, we want to demonstrate resilience to our team and we want to maintain a good relationship with management. So, how do we forge ahead and follow with grace? This article showcases a tool that will help you gracefully and mindfully execute a decision you disagree with. By decelerating and reflecting on eight prompts, you can learn how to process difficult emotions, clearly articulate problems, identify potential upsides, broaden your perspective and develop empathy, and visualize what executing an unpopular decision will actually look like.

When Hurricane Idalia struck the northern coast of Florida last year, it wreaked havoc on the home-building company where Elisia worked as a project manager. Several partially completed projects were destroyed, and material in the company’s warehouse and lumber yard were ruined. Management was committed to keeping the company going, but they had to lay off 10% of the staff and told all remaining employees that they would have to take a 20% pay cut for the foreseeable future.

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  • Cheryl Strauss Einhorn is the founder and CEO of Decisive, a decision sciences company using her AREA Method decision-making system for individuals, companies, and nonprofits looking to solve complex problems. Decisive offers digital tools and in-person training, workshops, coaching and consulting. Cheryl is a long-time educator teaching at Columbia Business School and Cornell and has won several journalism awards for her investigative news stories. She’s authored two books on complex problem solving, Problem Solved for personal and professional decisions, and Investing In Financial Research about business, financial, and investment decisions. Her new book, Problem Solver, is about the psychology of personal decision-making and Problem Solver Profiles. For more information please watch Cheryl’s TED talk and visit .

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Moscow major projects

Since launching modern Russia’s largest construction program in 2011, Moscow has more than doubled its territory. To catalyze the full potential of this rapidly-growing metropolitan area of 19.5 million people, the City of Moscow’s government pays significant attention to infrastructure as one of the key pillars of urban development—with a current focus on projects that create livable and comfortable urban spaces for both citizens and tourists.

Following its first five years of projects, Moscow was given special recognition for “demonstrating outstanding strategic commitment and ambition” by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). That period saw 50 million square meters of real estate developed, 370 social infrastructure objects built, and the metro expanded by 30 percent—including 101 kilometers of metro lines and 55 new stations. Innovative finance solutions, necessitated by the city government’s debt-free approach to development, enabled all this whilst maintaining a budget surplus and remaining a net donor region within Russia.

On 30-31 May 2018, the City of Moscow and Mosinzhproekt—a large Russian engineering, construction and project management company—hosted an Innovation Site Visit to showcase Moscow’s major projects to the Global Infrastructure Initiative (GII) community. Through roundtable discussions and site visits with project executives, participants explored where innovation and technology have enabled the step-changes that have allowed Moscow to deliver major projects on a short timeline—and how to apply these lessons to other cities and major projects.

The following insights emerged during GII’s Innovation Site Visit in Moscow:

  • Establish a structure for citizen involvement. Major urban infrastructure projects are an extremely visible expenditure of taxpayer funds while also often being large disruptors of daily life. A foundation of citizen support is essential for success and requires a thoughtful engagement program. In Moscow, citizens are encouraged to participate in the planning process by steering major initiatives through the “Active Citizen” application—a portal for online referendums on topics appropriate for democratic decision-making. To date, almost 2 million citizens have cast more than 90 million votes on over 3,000 issues through the platform. The purpose of this structure is to increase the opportunity for citizen engagement and involvement with their city’s major investments.
  • Manage the disruption ‘cost’. Major urban projects cannot be delivered without disrupting daily life. While citizens can be enrolled to accept the disruption as a necessary investment for a better outcome, equal attention needs to be given to managing the disruption ‘cost’ as to managing real expenditures. For example, MyStreets, a project to upgrade and enhance Moscow’s urban environment through reconstruction of streets and building façades, was disruptive to many citizens and commuters. However, through staging and swift execution, the disruption was minimized and the intended lifestyle improvements were quickly delivered to Muscovites and tourists who traverse newly styled pedestrian streets every day.
  • Invest in technology to optimize sequencing. Moscow’s cohesive vision for urban transformation has allowed early investments in technology to assist future delivery. One of the first projects completed was the centrally-controlled traffic management system which can monitor traffic conditions and urban movement through more than 2,000 traffic cameras and 160,000 CCTV cameras installed across the city. Data collected on current conditions, and knowledge of planned activities, allows real-time rerouting of traffic through the city’s dynamic signage. It also allowed identification and analysis of permanent traffic flow changes that could further ease disruptions like those created by the major construction projects.
Moscow traffic speed increased over 13% in 201.
  • Maximize utility of brownfield sites. A key reason the Moscow Central Circle (MCC), a new light-rail system integrated into the Moscow Metro, was completed in a record four-year period was the repurposing of existing brownfield networks which allowed the installation of modern technology on existing rail transport routes. The MCC’s 31 new stations will revitalize formerly abandoned industrial areas when its next stage of development builds an expected 300,000+ square meters of hotels, 250,000+ square meters of retail, and 200,000+ square meters of offices. This will give districts with historically poor infrastructure access a chance to develop at the same pace as the rest of the city.
  • Leverage PPPs to enhance basic services. To manage public cost and investment while delivering world-class infrastructure, municipalities need access to additional financing tools. Based on a structure that took an act of federal legislation, the MCC is an example of enhancing publicly developed foundations with private services. The tracks and land are owned by the Moscow Metro, with the rolling stock subcontracted to Russian Railways under a life cycle contract with a guaranteed buyback. The innovation is that Moscow Metro is licensing the development rights of its individual stations to private investors. Though all stations will exist under the same covenants, individual investors will assume their station’s construction cost and operational risk and rewards.
  • Create citizen-centric spaces. In addition to serving as open spaces, today’s city residents expect their parks to provide for entertainment and consumer services too. Many modern parks offer architectural features, charismatic vistas, and social, educational, and artistic spaces for all ages. When Zaryadye Park, an area of prime real estate next to the Kremlin was converted to parkland, an international contest resulted in 10 hectares being densely designed for this multi-function purpose. The outcome was two concert venues, restaurants, a parking garage, an entertainment complex, and a biological education center, all neatly camouflaged into a natural landscape that represents Russia’s ecological diversity.
  • Innovate where needed but not excessively. Moscow’s planners and builders did not shy away from technological innovation. The MCC used weldless joint rails to create a smoother and quieter system that is easier on riders and less disruptive to residents living near the railway tracks. The retrofit designs for Luzhniki Stadium were fully modeled in building information management (BIM)—a step which identified more than 100,000 conflict points before they could escalate into project delays. However, the project teams were also careful not to force innovation where it could create unnecessary risk and complications. Instead, they delivered the massive project portfolio by tactically melding innovations with highly-proficient execution of well-known and proven methods.

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