Are you feeling overwhelmed because you have to manage multiple projects at the same time? This is a very legitimate feeling and nothing to be ashamed of. According to a Wellingtone survey, handling too many projects at once is a top three project management challenge.
For many project managers, the thought of taking on multiple important tasks can quickly breed anxiety. However, if you’re working for a small organization, you may have no choice but to find a way to tackle this challenge. Smaller organizations don’t have the luxury of hiring a new team for every project.
When you have to manage different projects, keeping a close eye on all the moving parts becomes challenging. Without a predetermined strategy that favors agile project management, it’ll be hard to know what to prioritize and how to manage your workload to get the best results.
Other issues you’ll have to figure out include scheduling, people management, and task delegation. Even the best project managers need help.
That help will include using the best productivity tools. In the meantime, here’s some more help in the form of a blog. Keep reading to discover proven steps to help you manage multiple projects simultaneously.
What It’s Like to Manage Multiple Projects
Essentially, managing multiple projects requires you to be a supercomputer. In addition to juggling mundane project activities, you’ll have to manage multiple client relationships, deadlines, deliverables, team members, and stakeholders.
There’s also the fact that each project has its own unique operating procedures, sales playbook, project risks, unique demands, and other administrative tasks. For each project, you’ll have to:
- Manage clients
- Pick a project team
- Create a project plan
- Be responsible for task prioritization
- Manage and monitor resources
- Monitor progress of project tasks
- Establish a command chain
- Delegate and schedule tasks
- Make sure all of this is updated on a project management system
Steps to Manage Multiple Projects at the Same Time
Now that you know how much work goes into managing multiple projects, here’s a roadmap to achieving success.
Start by Planning
When you have to manage multiple projects, there’s no room for chance. You should create a project plan that encompasses everything you need to do to achieve your set objectives. That’s not all.
Your project management plan for each project should also have contingencies to fix possible issues. It should also have reasonable expectations and milestones for your team.
When working on multiple projects, it’s impossible to go full-throttle all the time. As such, your plans for each project should include some downtime for you and your team. It doesn’t mean you have to stop working entirely during this period. Instead, look to minimize the workload.
Host All Projects on One Platform
One of the major issues that comes with managing multiple projects is a lack of visibility for each project. It means you’ll end up missing out on critical information that can impact project flow. The solution to this problem is to manage all of your projects on the same platform.
Excellent planning will lay the foundation for successful project management. However, if this plan is spread across different documents and spreadsheets, it can become complex to share with a team. Imagine trying to present a wholesale vs retail strategy via video conferencing and scrambling to find vital documents.
During the project management process, you may also miss out on crucial information if this issue isn’t fixed. Since the workflow is also scattered across different platforms, someone may end up duplicating work because there’s no way to tell who’s working on what.
When you host all of your projects on the same project management platform, you’ll be able to sidestep issues like those above. Even with virtual project management, team members will be able to see real-time progress indicators too. Using the same management tools for different projects will mean you don’t have to waste valuable time getting to grips with a new platform.
The only question here is how to find the best free project management software for the job. When making your choice, consider flexibility, collaboration potential, and ease of use.
Have a Single Source of Truth for Assets
Having your materials scattered all around brings disorganization and confusion to your team. Teammates waste valuable time going through emails, drives, local folders, and tools to find the right presentation, image or document. This then results in failures to meet deadlines and low productivity.
Choose Digital Asset Management to have a single source of truth for your assets. The app is specifically designed for managing and controlling assets. You don’t only keep the assets in one place, organizing them nice and neatly. DAM also grants easy access to files to everyone in the team without any extra steps of sharing, allows collaborating and discussing materials real-time, and reusing files in the future.
Prioritize Tasks that Offer the Most Impact
While working on multiple projects at the same time, choosing where to start can be difficult. The solution is to prioritize tasks that contribute the most to company goals.
It may be tempting to start with the most straightforward tasks, like segmenting your customers. If you go with this strategy, your team may struggle to make headway with goals.
Instead, prioritize tasks on a macro level by postponing low-impact activities in favor of high-impact tasks. It’s essential to follow this sentiment in your daily to-do list — always prioritize tasks according to how important they are.
Let’s use a situation where you have to work on four project launches simultaneously. Let’s assume all four product launches will require roughly the same effort. However, one of them will exert the most significant influence on revenue.
Say another product launch will boost LTV (Lifetime Value) and customer retention numbers. If your company’s focus is on LTV, your focus should be on the second product launch.
Use Regular Reviews to Adjust Project Plan
Flexibility is vital when handling multiple projects, and different variables can change the entire outlook of individual projects.
When something unexpected happens, there’s no point in sticking to a plan drawn up based on outdated variables. You should seek to pivot to fit your new reality to ensure success.
The way to achieve this is to hold regular review sessions for each of the projects. These review sessions will be for metrics analysis and the identification of areas of improvement. Using this information, you can update your project plans and boost team efficiency.
Provide Your Teams with Enough Flexibility to Take on Priority Changes
The last section described the need to review and update plans when the situation calls for it. Whether you have to manage a remote team or a physical one, they must be informed of these priority changes as soon as they happen. More importantly, they have to understand the new changes.
If you’re working on multiple projects using multiple spreadsheets and tools, it’ll be hard for your team to determine which to work on when. As such, when plans change, it’ll be harder for you — the project manager — to figure out how to reschedule, reassign and track work.
This is why it’s crucial to work with collaboration software that affords every team member a clear view of all tasks. This way, it’s easy to get a handle on what everyone’s working on. Therefore, when you need to assign new tasks, you’ll be able to do so without disrupting the workflow.
Part of offering your team the flexibility to handle plan changes is keeping communication lines open. Whether through your project management application or in person, your team members should be able to contact you easily. This way, they can double-check responsibilities and avoid mistakes. This brings us to the next point.
Communicate Effectively with Your Team
Effective communication is important for successful project management. When you have to handle multiple projects simultaneously, it’s necessary to upgrade your communication skills.
You want to master the art of providing your team with all the information they need to accomplish their tasks. More importantly, you want to be able to do it without having to waste valuable time repeating yourself. Effective communication allows your team to figure out potential problems and provide solutions without delay.
Communication issues will lead to poor work collaboration. It means you’ll have zero insight into the work your team is doing. Indeed you won’t have the context necessary to understand how the project is progressing or whether or not you need to change priorities and timelines.
The ultimate solution to communication problems is to work with project management software and free conferencing tools that allow for real-time progress and status updates. With the click of a button, you’ll be able to curate information for multiple projects and share it with the designated teams.
As a project manager, task delegation is a must. But, since it’s such an obvious requirement, most project managers fail to plan for it. If you’re managing multiple projects, this is a mistake you shouldn’t be making.
For effectiveness, your attempts to delegate tasks should adhere to these three pillars: authority, clarity, and accountability. As long as these qualities are upheld, your task delegation efforts will be more effective.
An example of a communication plan for delegating tasks will follow these steps:
- Be direct about the structure for work
- Communicate client expectations to team members
- Set deadlines for tasks
- Describe the workload in detail
- List any resources and tools needed to complete tasks
- Give team members the authority to make judgment calls
With the above steps, you’ll be able to delegate tasks in a way that enhances productivity. Finally, remember to hold assignees accountable by checking in on their progress periodically.
Handling Multiple Projects Just Got Easier
Handling multiple projects is not an effortless venture. However, you can make it easier by following the above steps. Deliberate planning and the right project management tools will get you half of the way to boosting team efficiency for your projects. Good luck!
Reorganizing your materials is a step forward to help you manage multiple projects at once. Start with adopting Digital Asset Management to do it quickly and easily.
Elea Andrea Almazora is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, a contact center services provider and the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.