Project prioritisation requires strong governance

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Portfolio selection prioritisation at Revenue NSW is a straightforward process, because a clear framework determines strategic priorities. But when it comes to finessing competing priorities between multiple projects competing for shared resources, the approach is more complex. 

Kathleen Mackay, Chief Digital Officer at Revenue NSW, spoke to iTnews Digital Nation about how the organisation prioritises its finite human capital and funding resources.  

Prioritisation in the field of public policy is crucial in selecting the right policies and programs to roll out at the most effective times, she says. 

“When you've got multiple projects in flight, you've inevitably got situations where two pieces of work might be competing for the same resource, like developer, business, SMEs, test environments, or additional dollars, or even just the headspace of those that you're delivering to,” says Mackay. 

“So we think, well, let's get a clear problem statement, let's think about where is the contention, let's think about our options, the impact of each of those options on each of the projects, then getting the right people together, talking about the conflict, understand the options, the pros and cons, pick the least worst option, and then communicate that really well.” 


Mackay suggests that understanding the roles of each member in a steering committee is critical in maintaining effective collaboration in the group, and delivering good governance. 

“Each major investment has a governance group, of which the sponsor is the chair. We define our terms of reference for each group - and I think important there, is setting out who has decision rights versus who's in there as a trusted adviser.” 

The steering committees are then able to focus on the projects that have veered off track as well as understanding the knock-on impacts of changes made from one project to another. 

This means that tracking the success of the project is even more important when realising the collective risks of change.   

“If one important project’s running late, then that has got knock on impacts for the next and the next one,” says Mackay. 

“We use the standard tracking mechanisms: milestone plans, red, amber, green, reporting… we've got pretty strong benefits tracking, tracking things like customer satisfaction with the changes, ease of use of our service, as well as financial benefits.” 

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