Mastering the subtle art of workload management is an important task for several project-focused roles in companies. Department heads or executives often tackle project allocation on a company-wide level, whereas project managers need to assign tasks to...
Managing one project can be tricky. Managing multiple projects is so much harder than that.
With several projects going on at once you need to juggle different business objectives, goals, schedules and deadlines. As your responsibilities and the number of tasks you need to manage grow, it’s easy to make costly mistakes.
Here are some ideas for responding to common challenges PMs face while managing multiple projects at a time.
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Create one plan for all your projects
Without a master plan covering all of your projects, you risk getting lost or mixing things up.
According to the PMI’s paper on key drivers to the effectiveness in managing multiple projects, you need to think about your projects as a portfolio, with components affecting one another:
“Manage all projects as a collection, by adjusting and linking their schedules to match available resources, and removing unnecessary variation in the workloads of multiple-project managers”
Create your own schedule consisting of of every project you run. This way you can have an overview of your own time and the projects you should take care of at a time.
Keep your plans up to date
Managing changes is inevitable for project managers’ job. One of the ways to succeed in this position is to learn how to respond to them once they occured.
Managing your projects, make sure that your plans are always up to date, so you won’t miss on anything. Once changes occur, decide how much they affect the scope and if you’re able to deliver the project with resources you have.
To learn about current state of your project, monitor the schedule in your resource scheduling tool or talk to your team during daily stand-ups. Ask them if there are any constraints or roadblocks, so you’re able to remove obstacles as soon as they appear.
It may be tempting to manage as many things as possible. Controlling the delivery of every task, having to approve even the smallest details, communicating with executives or clients on behalf of your team even if they could do that themselves – that’s all micromanagement.
Even though it might give you a sense of control, micromanaging will not only overwhelm you over time, but is actually bad for your team’s morale. Although it is great that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do the extra work, when managing multiple projects you have to learn to delegate.
Assigning people for the projects, clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities, so that everyone knows exactly what they are accountable for. Use a skill matrix or or resource scheduling tool to discover who’s best for certain tasks and let them do the job.
Learn to prioritize
The ability to prioritize assignments is an important skill for PMs. Running a couple of projects at the same time, it gets even more important for you to excel at it. Prioritizing helps you avoid making chaotic decisions under pressure and work more strategically.
As explained by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, a leading expert in project management and strategy implementation, in his HBR article on prioritization:
Prioritizing increases the success rates of strategic projects, increases the alignment and focus of senior management teams around strategic goals, clears all doubts for the operational teams when faced with decisions, and, most important, builds an execution mindset and culture.
So how do you prioritize projects to meet client expectations and company objectives? Using a Critical Path Method (CPM) is one way to do so. Originally developed in DuPont company in the late 50s, it still applies to many business models, including software or product development.
CPM uses an algorithm for scheduling based on a set of project activities, such as dependencies, time and deliverables. This way you can discover which activities are critical and focus your efforts there first.
Once you’ve prioritized work, communicate it clearly to your teams, so everyone knows what to focus on.
Make managing multiple projects easier
At Teamdeck, we believe that with the right tools and techniques, you can make it through every project, delivering high quality work and successfully managing your teams.
Though managing multiple projects may scare you off at first, you can overcome it. Learn how to run them as your one project, keep your plans up to date and delegate duties. Getting better at these will help you succeed.