Managing multiple projects simultaneously
For project managers who need to juggle multiple projects simultaneously it could seem like a daunting task, stuff of nightmares. Especially if you have been assigned many small projects to complete, each has their own governance, budgets, stakeholders to appease and more. Only because the projects are small doesn’t mean you should cut corners. As they still need to be kept on track, ensuring the right processes and strategies are still being maintained, stay within deadline, keep employees motivated, and be mindful of expenses.
Data even shows that on average, 88% of remote workers experience miscommunications and inconsistent leadership with team members, highlighting the importance of proper program and project management. For those experienced project managers who have been there before, there are five core tactics to best handle delivering multiple projects concurrently.
Regardless of how carefully a project is planned, everything can easily go off track if a schedule is not established that includes the team’s work for the month, quarter, or year.
For instance, without a clear schedule, team members might fail to prioritize tasks, overlook critical jobs, and miss deadlines, which can seriously hinder the project’s delivery and even impact the result’s quality.
Use reliable work scheduling software to ensure every project team member is on the same page, keep workflows moving seamlessly, and keep everything on track.
A robust scheduling tool helps ensure lines are no crossed, work gets done, and project deadlines met. This helps keep multiple projects on track and team members more productive. Project schedules will also be maximized for optimum efficiency, avoiding potential delays.
The ability to prioritise is a major skill; priority should be based on tasks that will have the most significant impact on the project and program goals. This helps the management of several priorities while working on multiple projects effectively.
Doing so allows the team to work strategically on both micro (i.e., organizing daily to-dos based on importance) and macro (i.e., moving low-impact projects to the following quarter) levels. For instance, if the project is working on four products launches simultaneously, and the overarching goal is to increase customer revenue.
While the four projects require about the same amount of time, effort, and resources to complete and roll out, assess which one has the potential to generate a bigger impact on the customer revenue than the other three.
Prioritize the project (or projects) that have the most significant contribution to achieving the goals.
This helps with managing resources and allocates time better while ensuring efforts align with project goals and deliver desired results.
Without establishing a standard project planning process or workflow, then each project is likely to be managed differently.
This can lead to issues down the line, such as inconsistencies in deliverables and precious time wasted on setting up new processes for each project.
Having a solid plan is a must, establish standard processes, and identify responsibilities from the start.
Outline everything from goals, each step, and task necessary for project completion, schedules and deadlines, and the persons and teams responsible for specific jobs at the project level.
At the program level, develop plans, processes, and clarify responsibilities. Establish team-level goals and communicate the projects crucial to achieving those objectives.
A sound start is by outlining goals using a Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) approach.
Optimize project management processes by setting team-wide standards. For instance, request project team leads to submit a brief before outlining a project plan for big projects.
Creating templates for projects saves precious time; this will also ensure consistency across projects for the team
Clear goals, plans, and responsibilities help teams avoid inconsistencies in processes and deliverables.
Tracking status and progress updates in a multi-project environment are critical to keeping stakeholders and key project players in the loop.
Establish smart, systematic status updates so that stakeholder expectations can be managed efficiently.
Some tips for doing strategic and systematic project status updates are;
- Define expectations. Layout the specific steps task owners or the team members in-charge of particular tasks are expected to follow. Identify a time frame for updating relevant stakeholders, whether every three days, weekly, monthly, etc.
- Include a high-level overview of key areas in the project. Add several bullet points that provide an update on the accomplishments, progress, and upcoming work for each key area of the project’s status. This ensures essential points are covered, and stakeholders get all the necessary updates they need.
- Schedule accountability. Have third-parties, such as staff in another department, the project sponsor, or other stakeholders, conduct reviews to ensure the resource person or task owner follows protocol and the specified updating time frame.
Implement a systematic status updating process to keep the project team motivated, ensure they understand the project plan, why it’s crucial to stay up to date, and clearly see the multiple demands the team must meet.
Exercise effective delegation in resource management by adopting clarity, authority, and accountability.
For instance, empowering the graphic designer to create a landing page for a new project means making sure he/she is absolutely clear about the task by providing a work breakdown structure.
A work breakdown structure outlines the phases of the project process clearly.
Additionally, to ensure the project process and phases are when delegating, be sure to:
- Clearly communicate the work breakdown structure
- Set a project deadline
- Relay specific client expectations
- List down the available resources the task owner has
- Describe the workload
- Provide him/her the authority to make and carry out decisions
Clarity ensures the team is clear on the direction. Team members avoid any guesswork and prioritize critical tasks and projects.
A clear work breakdown structure and project scope will also empower teamwork that boosts productivity while giving members a sense of fulfillment for meeting multiple demands. Leverage a reliable project management tool that can streamline the work breakdown structure’s workflows and processes.
Data can back up the effectiveness of using the right project management tool with 77% of high-performing projects using project management software.
Being able to handle multiple projects at the same time is inevitable in project management, while the tips mentioned here are in no way guaranteed formulas for success, they are good building blocks to help develop strategies for effective and strategic multiple project management. Try and leverage the tactics shared to stay on top of projects’ moving pieces, meet deadlines, and achieve goals. Let us know the tactics you use to keep delivering multiple projects simultaneously. All the very best on your project management journey.