How To Prioritize Your Team’s Work

Start by knowing your company’s objectives and your team’s goals

Maria Valcam
Nov 4 · 5 min read
Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

Day-To-Day Work

In every company, we can categorize work into three types*:

* Note: I took the four types of work from the DevOps Handbook and changed them a bit: renamed business projects to product work (all projects are business projects) and merged internal IT projects and updates into one.

But how do we prioritize our work? To answer this question, we need to know what the company’s objectives are and what the goals of my team are.

And more importantly:

Why do you go to work every day?

Getting the Bigger Picture

To get the bigger picture, the objectives of the company and the team need to be communicated to the team. OKR is a framework that helps to cascade objectives up and down through the organization.**

**Note: OKRs are widely used in tech companies: Google, Intuit, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Facebook, Netflix, Samsung, Spotify, Slack, Twitter,, Deloitte, Dropbox, etc.

What are OKRs (objectives + key results)?

OKRs have two parts:

John Doerr defines them in his book Measure What Matters. Check out this video for a quick sum-up:

Set Your Team’s OKRs

The first step for getting our OKRs is to set your company’s objectives and then set your team’s objectives. Company objectives (and the strategy of the company) are defined by directors.

1. Know the OKRs for your company

2. Set specific OKRs for your team.

Normally, the objectives of a team are set only by product owners. With this, they create their product backlog. It’s easier for them because they know the business side, but this approach has many problems:

The solution? Everyone in the team should participate in defining the team’s OKRs.

After everyone knows the business objectives, they can sit together and theorize about what the team should focus on to help with this. Finally, they should define key results to keep this objective on track.

Technical OKRs

Do you find it difficult to get the buy-in from PMs? Remind them that internal work also brings value to the customer, so missing them will be fatal for the company.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Here are some objectives that you could add:

Note: You should review your risk factors once per year.

Note: For some low-cost companies, reducing cost work could be vital.

Putting It All Together

Once your team has their objectives, each new project should be associated with an OKR. If a project does not contribute to the OKRs, then it is wasting the time of the team.


Thanks for Reading!

I hope these tips make the prioritizing work a bit easy for you.

Do you set priorities differently? Let me know in the comments!

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Advice for programmers.

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