The Power of Strategic Data-Driven Project Prioritization

Photo of Nicole Ostrander speaking at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2023

We had the pleasure of attending the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando this month, joining a gathering of forward-thinking leaders and innovators from the IT world. Our presence at the event allowed us to engage in thought-provoking discussions, share our expertise, and learn from the brightest minds in the industry.  

Our Senior Account Executive Nicole Ostrander was also invited to speak at the event, with an insightful session titled 'Bet on the Right Horse - Strategic Data-Driven Project Prioritization.’ In the ever-evolving landscape of today's business world, making informed decisions about where to allocate valuable resources can feel like a high-stakes race. The need to ensure that you're backing the winning horse, so to speak, is more critical than ever.  

"In a constantly changing environment, organizations are always trying to continue to grow, evolve and compete. To be successful in these three categories – it is crucial that you spend the right time, money, and efforts on the initiatives that are truly going to help your continued success and beyond," Nicole emphasized. 

In this blog post, we delve into the key takeaways from Nicole's talk, exploring the transformative approach of objective capability-based planning and how it can revolutionize the way businesses make decisions. 

A lesson from optical illusions 

Just as optical illusions can present various visual interpretations based on the observer's perspective, project prioritization often becomes subjective due to a lack of objectivity. Teams tend to focus on their own initiatives without considering alternative perspectives, potentially leading to misaligned resource allocation.

Recognizing the pain 

One of the challenges organizations face is determining where to invest resources among numerous competing priorities. Nicole highlighted the need to move away from the "squeaky wheel gets the oil" approach and embrace objective decision-making. 

The role of business capabilities 

To guide effective project prioritization, let's introduce the concept of business capabilities. These capabilities form an organization's DNA, representing what it can deliver and what's needed to achieve greatness. They are the essential building blocks for strategic decision-making. 

Capability-based planning is a strategic approach that centers on understanding, developing, and leveraging an organization's core capabilities. It takes into account the alignment of people, processes, technologies, and assets to execute effectively. 

Understanding who you are as an organization involves creating a list of core capabilities. While capabilities can evolve, the foundational ones typically remain stable, forming the organization's backbone. 

Business processes and technology 

Business processes play a crucial role in bridging what an organization does and how it does it. They provide clarity on "Who does What, When, and Where" and help identify efficiency and areas for improvement. 

Understanding your technology landscape is equally important. It involves cataloging existing technologies, identifying gaps, and rationalizing applications. This process aids in making informed decisions about technology investments and dependencies. 

The road to strategic project prioritization 

By addressing capabilities, processes, and technology, organizations gain a clearer understanding of the health of their core capabilities. This knowledge forms the basis for robust business requirements and resilient technology landscapes. 

Nicole stressed the importance of data completeness and application rationalization. These exercises help organizations clean and consolidate critical data, eliminate redundant technologies, and allocate resources efficiently. 

Risk and reward

The negative impacts of neglecting capability-based planning include increased risk exposure and difficulties in decision-making. Organizations must prioritize a strategic approach to mitigate these risks. 

Conducting capability-based planning provides a living blueprint of the organization, enhancing clarity and vision. It enables faster, proactive decision-making, minimizes risk, fosters collaboration, and reduces reliance on tribal knowledge. 

Capability-based planning yields both quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits, including productivity gains, accelerated decision-making for digital transformation, and improved collaboration between business and IT. 


Nicole's session shed light on the power of strategic data-driven project prioritization through capability-based planning. As organizations navigate a rapidly evolving landscape, this approach offers a clear path to confidently back the right horse, maximize project ROI, and secure a competitive advantage. 

"Capability-based planning leads to customer-centric approaches, better efficiency and effectiveness, long-term sustainability, risk mitigation, and an overall competitive advantage," Nicole emphasized. 

By embracing these principles, organizations can position themselves for success in an ever-changing world.