Project managers dream of the day when they don’t have dozens of balls up in the air. In an ideal setting, leaders would only have to focus on one assignment in a given period to ensure that their staff have sufficient time and resources to tackle every challenge with aplomb.
This rarely happens, if at all. Project managers are usually tasked with the difficult job of monitoring production for multiple initiatives, which is beneficial from a production perspective as it ensures that everything will be completed as soon as possible.
You have to learn how to manage a few projects simultaneously if you want to be successful at every endeavor. To that end, our tips below will help you multitask and keep anything from failing because your attention was divided.
Sort by deadline
Projects make your life easier by telling you which ones need to be completed sooner rather than later. The deadline is your friend, as it lets you know which assignment should receive the lion’s share of the attention for the time being.
By prioritizing projects based on their due dates, you won’t be surprised when you’re supposed to have finished one. Make a list of deadlines and then build your schedule around that.
However, you have to be careful with this approach because you don’t want to spend all of your time focusing on one initiative. You need to spread your and your staff’s attention around so that you won’t have to start from scratch once you start working on something new.
Minimizing multiple risks
We’ve gone over the clear and hidden risks that can delay production or cause other problems. When you’re working on multiple projects, these dangers are amplified and you won’t have enough time to address them all individually.
In a report for the Project Management Institute, Marian Haus recently wrote that you have to learn how to share risks between projects and account for them during the planning phase. This allows you to eliminate challenges instead of having to deal with them midstream.
The ideal way to achieve this end is by looking for similar risks between assignments. Find shared issues so you can negate them in one fell swoop, which will keep you from having to repeat the same process multiple times.
Furthermore, you need to identify how one project will affect others. Will one require too much attention from your staff? Is a single assignment eating up the majority of your budget? Figuring out these risks in the earliest stages ensures that you can develop strategies for them.
Hold a conference with your entire team and discuss possible solutions for every problem. The collaborative method ensures that you’ll hear a wide range of ideas instead of using cookie-cutter plans that haven’t been created for your specific circumstances.
Buy yourself time
According to an article Kiron D. Bondale wrote for PM Hut, you can ease some of your stress and buy some time by searching for flexibility within a project. In some instances, constraints and requirements aren’t set in stone so they can be adjusted if you know how to ask.
The key is to communicate with stakeholders and go over whether you think a project’s timetable should be extended. Emphasize how important it is to ensure that you have sufficient resourcing in place in order to deliver high quality deliverables.
You need to explain how the delay would benefit your clients because they want their projects completed as soon as possible. Put yourself in their shoes so you can make your case and receive additional time.
Keep talking to the staff
Bondale also wrote about how important it is to communicate with your staff when there are multiple projects due. The workforce understands that there’s a great deal going on but need guidance from the project manager to clarify any issues.
You can’t afford to leave your staff in the dark. If you don’t tell them about your strategies or keep them in the loop regarding deadlines and resourcing, everyone will become stressed and productivity will diminish. Regularly speak with your contributors and inform them about any updates that will affect their project. Even emails should be sufficient for enhancing communication during hectic periods.