BBA 3626 Unit II Research Paper

BBA 3626 Unit II Research Paper

Columbia Southern University


Prioritization of selected projects is a crucial aspect within the world of project management. After an organization has considered all possible projects and has selected which ones it will choose to undertake within a given period of time, they must be prioritized to determine which projects will be assigned specific resources and when the projects will be scheduled to begin; as an organization can not feasibly expect to start all selected projects at once. Factors considered when prioritizing projects include the urgency of the projects at question, the cost of delaying the expected benefits from the various projects, and the practical details concerning the timing of the project (Kloppenborg, 2015). The following compares two separate articles concerning the prioritization of projects related to the overwhelming amount of aging infrastructure within the United States and how to select which projects are repaired first and also how to best solve the problem of selecting and prioritizing projects between a wide variety of available projects within the research and development (R&D) field.

Aging Infrastructure

In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States an overall infrastructure grade of D+. It has become very evident that balancing the competing infrastructure needs of the country with an immense backlog of maintenance has become a increasingly difficult. The grade given by the ASCE was based on several factors including: the country is relying on infrastructure that was designed and built nearly a century ago and this infrastructure is aging and deteriorating at an exponential pace, in turn holding many communities back as this infrastructure is not meeting the needs of the modern world. Another reason for the grade is based on roadway designs that were implemented in the Eisenhower era and before, and these designs do not meet the mobility needs of today. Currently roads are claiming an estimated 40,000 lives per year. Finally, as one of the countries most important waterways, the Mississippi river accounts for countless delays of the barges traveling the river. The rivers immense system of aging locks requires constant patches and fixes, delaying barges for hours and sometimes days. While the mounting infrastructure problem seems unfixable, this article explores five steps that can be taken to prioritize infrastructure projects greatly impact the needs for updated infrastructure (Swallow, 2019).

The first step to reducing the backlog of infrastructure needs is to build a foundation of data on existing assets and to use it effectively. By analyzing data concerning where infrastructure failures occurs most frequently; due to various reasons, engineers and infrastructure owners can use this data to predict at-risk infrastructure and prioritize projects according to their risk level and prevent future breaks. Second is to evaluate the full cost of a project, not just the initial capital costs. Engineers and planners are placing a renewed focus on the life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) as a means of prioritizing projects. This concept focuses not only on the up front costs of a project, but on operation and maintenance costs as well. Considering the total cost of a particular project in the early stages of planning can have a profound impact on infrastructure design decisions and increase resilience. The third of the five steps when prioritizing infrastructure projects is to imagine a variety of disaster scenarios. Weather events will vary from location to location and must be considered when timing and planning a particular project. For example, planners in Tucson, Arizona recently realized that they could no longer rely on historical water trends and began to envision the future in which they could no longer depend on underground water aquifers. The city developed a set of solutions that would rely on water storage and reclaimed water projects to ensure a reliable water supply, making this a high priority. The fourth step is to look to land use and context sensitive solutions. Preparing for the future, improving the use of the land surrounding the aging infrastructure, and considering how the natural environment can serve to improve unique infrastructure goals of an area can prove remarkably helpful in reducing infrastructure deterioration. Planners should consider what is available around the targeted area and plan accordingly when prioritizing projects. Doing so may decrease build times, reduce material costs, and may prevent future complications from natural disasters. The final step explored in this article to help prioritize projects related to the aging U.S. infrastructure is to support research and development. Doing this will aid in sparking the development of new technologies and processes which can be used to extend the life of current and new infrastructure, expedite repairs, and increase cost savings. Managers and planners should consider budget cutbacks and restraints as the relate to and have an impact on public R&D budgets (Swallows, 2019).

Optimizing U.S. infrastructure investments and planning will require managers, planners, engineers, and community leaders to rethink and reinvent every stage of project planning and delivery and project prioritization. The five steps above offer a foundation for prioritizing the numerous infrastructure projects facing the country (Swallows, 2019). Urgency is of key importance when considering how to prioritize these projects. The aging infrastructure of the U.S. is not getting any younger. Every day this roadways, bridges, rail systems, and waterways are exposed to more and more punishment. Regard for public safety must be taken and these projects should receive attention to the fullest extent possible. Costs of delaying the expected benefits of these projects any longer will continue to result in thousands of lives lost each year.

R&D Project Prioritization

Prioritization of projects and allocation of highly scarce resource within the field of research and development is a continuous problem facing R&D management. As it is in almost any field, the overall goal of R&D prioritization is to simply select winning new projects. These projects are ones that will have a combination of characteristics that are projected to lead to considerable benefits and also have a high probability of success. To do this, R&D managers may be able to implement a systematic project selection process utilized by a company known as Air Products (Brenner, 1994). This approach to prioritization “identifies and builds consensus around the key issues for success, communicates these factors to improve project proposals, and helps to extend limited funding to maximize project progress and completion” (Brenner, 1994, n.p.). Within this process for prioritization, decision makers select and weigh various criteria using structured framework that is based upon the hierarchy process. Project leads are then required to propose their specified projects within this specified framework, enhancing clarity and increasing understanding. Strengths and weaknesses of each project are then able to be clearly identified through the use of profiles based on ratings for each of the criteria. Projects that are identified as being strong will then be fully funded, weak projects receive no funding, and moderate projects are funded to the extent needed to resolve weaknesses and transform the project into a strong one (Brenner, 1994).


Both of these articles share similar approaches to project prioritization. In the article written by Swallow (2019), planners take into consideration data that has been gathered in order to determine potential infrastructure that is at a high risk for failure and prioritize according to this data. In the article by Brenner (1994), decision makers identify and select specific criteria (data), and aggregate them into a logical framework and prioritize projects based on the strength of the project. Additionally, both articles share the idea of maximizing available resources as a means of maximizing project progress and overall success. Brenner (1994) explains that after projects criteria is weighed and considered, primary resources are allocated to those projects that are strong and most likely to be successful, with no resources going to weak project, and moderate projects receive the resources necessary to turn them into strong ones. In the article by Swallow (2019), planners can look to maximize the use of available resources through utilizing the available land and natural resources surrounding the aging infrastructure. Improved land use and planning according to the surrounding natural environment can reduce costs, lower carbon footprint, and better prepare infrastructure for future environmental impacts.


Prioritization of projects enables organizations to appropriately allocate resources across selected projects and allows these resources to go farther. In the long run, this allows an organization to complete more projects. When prioritizing projects, decision makers must consider the urgency of each project, the costs of delaying the expected benefits of a particular project, and the practical details concerning timing of a project. Prioritization provides the structure and framework required to deal with limited resources, maximize time, prepare and plan for the future, learn from past successes and failures, and to ultimately choose the right projects to accomplish at the right time.


Brenner, M. S. (1994). Practical R&D project prioritization. Research Technology Management37(5), 38.

Kloppenborg, T. J. (2015). Contemporary project management (3rd ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Swallow, K. (2019). Future-proofing infrastructure often means going back to basics: In the effort to tackle the backlog of infrastructure maintenance in the United States, five steps can help prioritize projects to not only meet the greatest needs but also build resilience. McKinsey Insights, 1. Retrieved from