Prioritising projects? Think about the RETURN

PUBLISHED 23 Sep 2018 - UPDATED 17 Aug 2023

RETURN mnemonic for project management

So here's a useful mnemonic to help prioritise tasks or projects. Think about the RETURN:

R: Resource
E: Effort
T: Time
U: Urgency
N: Necessity

(OK, there should really be another 'R' in there but I'll let that slide. Perhaps it stands for 'Argh, I've forgotten one of the words...')

Only tasks with high urgency and/or necessity (UN) should justify a high level of resource, effort and time (RET). And urgency versus necessity (AKA importance) is a separate question, one that is more usually explored with the Eisenhower Matrix.

Anyway, I was introduced to the RETURN acronym at the analytics conference London MeasureCamp 13, in a session run by Andrew Gerhardt - but I don't know its origin. It sounds like it has perhaps come from a book on project management. I'd be happy to credit if anyone knows.

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James Clark
Hi! I'm James Clark and I'm a freelance web analyst from the UK. I'm here to help with your analytics, ad operations, and SEO issues.
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