Being a Project management consultant for years I have heard several questions from project managers regarding managing multiple projects, So I thought it would be a good idea to post it on my blog.
Following are some of the actual questions I have heard.
“How to manage multiple projects at same time”
“What is the standard in the industry for managing multiple projects”
“How do I find that I am not overwhelmed by multiple projects”
To me management is a trait and everyone could not be as good as someone born with this trait. It is same like, some are born musician and someone else could learn it but its hard to beat one who are born with it. Its hard to say how much projects you could manage at same time or whats the threshold. Its totally upto you. You could increase your productivity by avoiding these mistakes for sure.
The most common mistakes of managing multiple projects are :-
Mistake 1.) Do everything yourself attitude – Many project managers try to keep a close eye on tasks assigned to team members. They will often ask for the status report during the course of the task despite having preset dates for reports. This is micromanaging and reduces your ability to manage multiple projects at the same time.
Solution – Learn to delegate the task
You should learn to delegate the task and then trust the team members ability to perform that task perfectly and on time. Thats the reason you chose the team member to be on the project. Proper delegation will reduce lot of your workload and help you focus on other thing like another project. And at the same time you will be mentoring other team members by providing them opportunity to finish the task without supervision and inspiring them by your leadership skills.
Mistake 2.) Never changing project plans – This in my case one of the biggest mistakes. The project starts with a project plan but keeps on sitting in project server and never get updated. The project seems to be on time but actually no changes or activity progress ever changed in project plan.
Solution – Always up-date the project plan
Project Plan is not designed to be static, it should be updated frequently with all the latest information. Any data not provided in the project management plan could land the project in a pitfall. Having all up-to-date information from the projects will help you manage more projects efficiently.
Mistake 3.) Having all project plans separate
No doubt that if you are managing multiple projects you will have multiple projects plans and schedules. Jumping from one plan to another plan or all open at once will not give you a full picture of all the projects.
Solution – Having a Master Plan
Have a master plan for all the projects. The master plan should include the schedules and a timeline for all the projects. This single master plan is like the silver bullet. This will give you an exact overview of which projects needs more attentions and which are going smooth.
Mistake 4.) Being OLD SCHOOL. Microsoft Project is a tool that is used by I guess all the project managers. Its very smart and makes your life simple. But how effective is it for all your other project related tasks. All other tasks like managing clients, communications, feedbacks etc are to be managed by yourself. Thats takes a big toll on your duties and you feel like AM I PROJECT MANAGER OR A SECRETARY.
Solution – Automation and New tools
This is now web 3.0 there are tons of tools available to help project managers. Try to automate your tasks as much as possible. I prefer ZAPIER it a tool that could help you automate many of your tasks. It could work with your email, dropbox, calendar and stuff. Its like a simple IF THIS THEN THAT. There is another service called IFTT you could also give it a try and plethora of other automation tools.
Mistake 5.) Communication
PMBOK states communication planning is one of the most critical tasks during project planning and indeed it is. Having multiple projects increases the number of communications channels by several folds. One missed communication or keeping someone out of the loop could add significant delays to the project.
Solution- Strong communication platform
In very rare case all the stakeholders will be co-located. Keeping all stakeholders on same page and being in different geographical regions and even separted by several time zones will add grief to you. Its your job to have a strong communication plan. The ultimate goal being “Keeping everyone on the same page”. You have to makre sure all stakeholders are satisfied by the outcomes as ultimately they will be the judge deciding the success or failure of the project.
These were my thoughts if you have any other common mistake that I have missed here. Post it in comments and I will add it here.