Managing lots of projects at the same time is “a way of life” for most Project Managers. But it’s not easy! The following tips help you juggle lots of projects at once, without any of them falling on the floor!
Tip 1: Stagger Your Phases
There are various stages or phases that a project goes through to bring it to completion. These typically involve some form of Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control and Closure.
One trick for successfully running multiple projects at the same time is to stagger these phases as much as possible across your projects, so that they don’t all occur at the same time.
For example, you don’t want to have all 7 projects you may be managing, all have the Planning phase at the same time. This will consume an inordinate amount of our time as a planner and mistakes may be introduced to projects.
Instead, stagger the projects so you have some just starting and others just getting ready to finish up. You can do this by starting some projects earlier than necessary, or perhaps swapping projects that are in a different phase with someone else on your team.
Tip 2: Avoid Project Overload
Why are you managing lots of projects at the same time? It’s probably because you’re a good Project Manager! Everyone knows you are capable and competent and your projects end up being successful. So your name is at the top of the list when the question is asked “who should this project be assigned to?”
This is a compliment that can backfire in the long-run. There are only so many projects you can manage before you get overloaded. So know when to ask for help or say “no” to a new project if your plate is full.
Tip 3: Don’t Share Dedicated Resources
Managing multiple projects requires multiple resources. One of the worst things you can do is to share your dedicated resources with other Project Managers on other projects.
For the same reasons that you’re becoming overloaded as you’re great at your job, your staff will get pressured to take on more projects if they are good at their job as well. So try and limit that pressure by keeping them allocated to your projects and not “sharing them out” too others. Otherwise they will be spread too thinly and that won’t help your delivery. So protect them as much as possible.
Tip 4: Delegate the Details
If you only manage a few projects, then you probably know every task, contingency plan, risk, and detail for each project. But if you’re managing lots of projects, then those days are long gone. You will need to delegate these details to someone else on each project team, to keep track of.
To do this, find assign someone in your team who is detail-oriented, fact-conscious and has a very good memory. Assign them as your ‘go-to’ person if you need to dig into the details at any time. This will allow you to focus on the bigger picture of moving each project through it’s various phases to completion.
Tip 5: Manage Expectations
A common thing people forget when managing lots of projects is stakeholder expectation management. You need to keep everyone informed of the status of your projects and up-to-date with what’s happening at all times. It will make your job much easier.