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What to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority?

By Marcelo Cardoso posted 11-29-2021 14:09


For a business to be successful in terms of time management, it needs to know how to prioritize daily tasks and how to organize its teams, optimizing its resources, without compromising both the quality of services and the relationship with all its customers. But how can we prioritize activities when everything we get is made a high priority?

Clearly, this cannot compromise the company's workflow, but must be part of its management. In other words, the decision to prioritize a task must follow a previously established rule and not be based on the pressures of the moment it arises.

Mercado Livre, the leading company in e-commerce in Latin America, has a Legal Operations area of ​​10 people providing information for 8 areas totaling more than 150 people and needs, but how to deliver so much in the face of different requests, projects and different priorities?

Everything starts when the request is entered, that is, when the demand is received.

For each request received, we fill in a control with several control fields, request summary, date of receipt and other fields are filled in to ensure control and understanding. These fields together will assign a certain score to the activity and based on this score, it will be prioritized. In this phase, the relationship of the demand with the CLOC correspondence area is also essential, this association will allow the future measurement of the department's maturity level.

For months, classification and prioritization techniques were studied, but to get the best result, we considered the best part of several of these techniques and created our own matrix. Before detailing it, however, it is interesting to review some basic concepts.

The base: GUT matrix

This matrix serves to classify each problem that managers deem relevant through 3 criteria: severity, urgency and trend (probability of getting worse in a given period) all within a score of 1 to 5, which demonstrates how delicate the problems analyzed.

GUT Details and Weights

Assign scores to problems on the 3 variables (Severity, Urgency and Trend)

As there are 3 variables, it is necessary to score each problem for each criterion.

An example would be:

Unapproved annual marketing budget: Severity 5, Urgency 4, Trend 3;

Lack of ROI control of campaigns: Severity 4, Urgency 3, Trend 4;

Insufficient marketing team to handle the demands: Severity 3, Urgency 3, Trend 2;

Multiply the 3 notes to get the ranking of your top problems to find out which of the listed problems requires priority, just multiply the results of the “G”, “T” and “U” variables.

Unapproved annual marketing budget (5 x 4 x 3 = 60);

Lack of control over the ROI of campaigns (4 x 3 x 4 = 48);

Insufficient marketing team to handle the demands (3 x 3 x 2 = 18);

If we only consider the application of the GUT model in this example, the budget problem should be solved first, followed by the lack of ROI control, the same concept applies in addition to the other variables that we will consider.

Business Variables (Suggestion for use)

*Each selection level must have an associated weight, fully customizable according to the business.

Type of initiative (Project/Improvement/Report/Study);

Type of benefit (Time/Amount);

Requester (Senior management/other areas);

Working time (Days/Months, Years);


How does the relationship work?

The importance of correctly filling in all the key fields for this classification is reinforced, since not filling in the information will reduce the final Score.

Main gain of the model

It allows justifying and demonstrating to the claimant area why a demand was prioritized/initiated first than another one of apparently equal importance.

Of course, we know that not everything can be calculated and prioritized based on formulas, after all, some demands really need to "jump the queue" and be worked with the urgency they are requested, but for all others included in the company's pool of initiatives, this it would be a great management tool.