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Project Selection

Project Selection is a process to assess each project idea and select the project with the highest priority.

Projects are still just suggestions at this stage, so the selection is often made based on only brief descriptions of the project. As some projects will only be ideas, you may need to write a brief description of each project before conducting the selection process.

Selection of projects is based on

(i) Benefits: A measure of the positive outcomes of the project. These are often described as “the reasons why you are undertaking the project”. The types of benefits of eradication projects include:

  • Biodiversity
  • Economic
  • Social and cultural
  • Fulfilling commitments made as part of national, regional or international plans and agreements.

(ii) Feasibility: A measure of the likelihood of the project being a success, i.e. achieving its objectives. Projects vary greatly in complexity and risk. By considering feasibility when selecting projects it means the easiest projects with the greatest benefits are given priority.

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Why Do Project Selection?

Often you will have a number of suggested projects but not enough resources, money or time to undertake all of the projects. The ideas for eradication projects may have come from many sources including: the community, funders, local and national governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). You will therefore need a way of deciding on a priority order and choosing a project.

If your organization has limited experience in conducting eradications then it is recommended to concentrate on a small number of projects, ideally one project at a time, until the people in your organization have developed the skills and experience. Grow capacity and build up to undertaking multiple projects at any one time. Do the easy projects first. Work towards the most difficult and rewarding projects. Use the easy projects to help answer questions/solve issues for the more difficult projects. Use the best opportunities to learn.

You may have a mix of straight forward and difficult eradication projects and do not know where to start. The Project Selection Stage will assist you by providing a process to compare the importance of the projects and select the most suitable project to undertake.

By following the Project Selection Stage you will follow a step by step objective method for prioritizing projects – this can be used to explain to stakeholders the reasoning behind why you selected a particular project.

The benefits of completing the Project Selection are-

  • A transparent and documented record of why a particular project was selected
  • A priority order for projects, that takes into account their importance and how achievable the project is

Who Should Be Involved?

  • Agency Management: Set selection criteria to ensure the selection process aligns with agency strategies. Selection processes are often run as a management initiative before the implementing Project Manager is assigned.
  • Stakeholders: Stakeholder participation at the start of a project creates strong community ownership and support, and increases the chances of a successful outcome. Stakeholder input should be included at the ideas stage; consult widely as you are developing the ideas for projects as the community will be the source of many of the best project ideas. Stakeholders must be informed of the outcome of the Project Selection Stage.
  • Project Manager: Involving the Project Manager in the Project Selection process will help build ownership in the project and support a successful project in the long run.

Process of Project Selection

(i) Identification of Projects

The first step of this process, identification, requires a clearly defined and communicated strategy. The best option would be to set up a strategy development process that contains project identification and project selection as an integral part (cf. “How to Find the Right Projects” in sub-section White Papers). In fact, we observe that most organizations identify investment projects within their strategy development process, but delegate the identification of customer projects to their key account and sales departments.

(ii) Evaluation and Prioritization of Projects

Central part of the project selection process is evaluation and prioritization of identified projects. There are a couple of methods available:

  • Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  • Benefit / Cost Ratio (BCR)
  • Opportunity Cost (OC)
  • Payback Period (PP)
  • Initial Risk Assessment

These methods require a certain minimum level of “planning” for each one of the projects to be evaluated. We need to know

  • Project life cycle duration, in number of accounting periods,
  • Expected project cost per accounting period,
  • Expected project revenue per accounting period,
  • Overall risk values of the projects to be evaluated.

(iii) Selection and Initiation of Projects

Project selection and initiation is the step that naturally follows evaluation and prioritization. A particularly delicate step of project initiation turns out to be the staffing of project teams. As mentioned earlier, resources are scarce, and in most organizations appear to be the most limiting factor in project selection. If we take in too many projects we overload our resources, if we do not take in enough we do not utilize them economically enough. As discussed in the sub-section Multi Project Management, having too many staff members working in multi-tasking mode, i.e. on two or more projects at the same time, decreases overall productivity of the organization. On a medium / long term scale, it seems to be the better option to initiate projects in a way so that the teams can focus and work on one project at a time, thus, avoiding disturbances of one project by the others. Of course, that needs clear prioritization of the selected projects, based on evaluation done in the previous step.

(iv) Review of Projects

After project selection we need to regularly review projects that are under way in order to find out if they are still in-line with our strategy. Thus, the first way of checking them is repeating the initial evaluation with more accurate estimates as they become available; the second way is holding regular project management review meetings in order to identify major problems on a per-project basis, via project status reports.

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