The IEEE 802.15.4 protocol offers great potential in several application fields, such as industrial Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). An industrial automation cell (field level) is characterized mostly by periodic traffic flows. Using the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol, it is necessary to manage Guaranteed Time Slots (GTSs) allocation and at the same time ensure adequate performance both to other periodic traffic flows and network management/control flows. For these reasons, this paper shows a flexible approach in order to improve GTSs assignment and medium access performance. Analytical results are shown in order to demonstrate benefits introduced by deadline-aware algorithm (for guaranteed access to reserved slots) and CSMA-CA-priority based (for latencies reduction during medium access attempts). Otherwise, obtained results show that the proposed technique improves the number of deadlines met and the probability to find the channel free for transmissions. 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.