Prioritisation of change is something that I have worked on for many years. I have seen how effective prioritisation can drive a business forward and how shying away from difficult decisions can result in wasted effort and failed projects. Prioritisation can often be driven by who shouts loudest and not where the most positive impact can be achieved.

What drives the need for prioritisation?

Change is constant. In Wealth, the need to evolve does not stop, be it from Regulatory pressures, keeping Tech current, reducing cost base or evolving proposition to keep pace with customer and market demands. The challenge of prioritising change is often associated with affordability – availability of cash. Limited funding is just the start of the problem. Finite resource pools, overstretched SMEs, IT change windows, access to Third Parties and sponsor and management attention often make ‘doability’ a bigger challenge than funding. Alongside this – the market, economic and geopolitical landscapes continue to change impacting the change context.

“My clients biggest ‘doabilty’ challenge is the availability of change resources, coupled with access to a very limited SME (Subject Matter Expert) pool who all have busy day jobs’’

Lead Consultant when asked about major client prioritisation challenges


Prioritisation Case Study:

A high priority project in January could be a ‘nice to have’ or even irrelevant by April. Using 2020 as an (admittedly extreme) example, Wealth companies had to respond to huge changes to customer, operational, system and staff demands almost overnight:

Thankfully, most prioritisation decisions are more subtle than that of the Covid 19 crisis, but the same principles should be applied in a more stable business environment.

How do you prioritise change activity?

Prioritisation of change requires regular review (not just at the outset). This applies to backlogs within a workstream through to large corporate portfolios. Structured consideration of Impact, Complexity and Context can cut through conflicting stakeholder agendas. This supports comparison of different types of projects and scope components:

“There is no shortage of good ideas for change but identifying those that will have the biggest impact is the trick”  

Current client when asked about prioritisation of change backlog

In conclusion, effective prioritisation is not a happy accident. It requires discipline and the ability to say ‘No’ or ‘Not yet’ to strong change ideas (where others will have more material impact to strategic outcomes). Whilst decisions may be unpopular, optimising resources on activities driving biggest benefit should underpin prioritisation decisions.

Simplify could support you with prioritisation frameworks and delivery of successful change – please get in touch via for more details.

Emma Norris

Head of Portfolio