A Peer-Submitted Best Practice

Prioritizing Your Work Bottom-Up

We faced a challenge common to many organizations: the harvest was plenty and the workers were few. Work always outnumbers capacity so you need to prioritize. I instituted a process improvement program at my workplace for staff to propose changes and receive recognition and bonus money. It works on several levels for us.

First, it helps us decide on one or two selections. As a management team we made a commitment to prioritize our work centered around the needs identified by our staff whose experience is relatable to our clients. Many of the suggestions for improvement reveal friction or opportunities to delight our customers that wouldn’t normally be seen with a top-down prioritization scheme originating from the leadership.

Second, it puts us in the right frame of mind to seek out high value changes with low barriers and effort. We all have a certain amount of bias to work on the project or task which seems urgent in the moment, but when someone proposes a technical or process change that is both easy and impactful it really clarifies your purpose.

Finally, it empowers staff to enact change in our company. These employees helped recruit talented staff from competitors who were frustrated working at places where they don’t feel like they have a voice. You need an IT group with a service ethic to succeed with bottom-up prioritization, but morale with the IT group is vastly improved when they feel like their work makes a tangible difference. We look at this form of priority as a way of showing our staff that we are invested in their work satisfaction.

Every organization needs to prioritize, but choosing a bottom-up methodology has been a game changer for us. You still need to implement changes that originate from the leadership team, but if that is the sole source of inspiration consider empowering your organization by looking bottom-up for changes.

About the Author

Mr. Gran has over 18 years of experience designing and launching enterprise software systems. He was a lead developer for the Department of Labor’s web-based human resources system and has managed Information Technology solutions in private and public sector organizations.

Mr. Gran is an Oracle certified Java Programmer and holds the Series 65 professional certification. He serves on the Board of Directors for Rotary in Charlottesville, VA. 

Mr. Gran received his Bachelor of Science from Ball State University.

Photo of Duane Gran

By Duane Gran

Director, Information Systems at Blue Ridge ESOP Associates

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