More often than not, your team will be working on multiple projects simultaneously, especially in the creative industry. Keeping track of everything can become overly complicated, and a lot can go wrong very fast.
Therefore, it's essential to develop a good process that will enable you to manage multiple projects simultaneously. Make sure your priorities are clear, the workload is effectively allocated, and you're not going into overtime.
Luckily for you, there's a way to achieve this balance. If you're struggling to plan, manage, and organize your work across multiple projects, these strategies will help you keep all of them on track.
Keep all your work in one place
One of the most common challenges when managing multiple projects is losing visibility across all different activities. Therefore, it's imperative to plan and manage all of your work under one roof.
When the time comes to start working, you'll have a headache if your meticulous plans are scattered across countless documents and spreadsheets. If your primary channel of communication is email, you're running the risk of missing or overlooking an essential piece of information. Even worse, your team might duplicate their work because they didn't know someone else is already working on it.
Goals, plans, expectations, and responsibilities must be defined right at the get-go
If your workflow is marred with inconsistencies when it comes to deliverables and processes, it's possible that you haven't given enough effort to define goals, plans, and accountability in advance. Without a standard project planning process, you’re likely to be running each project differently. As a result of not having a clear plan, you will encounter inconsistencies, time inefficiencies, and work will start slipping through the cracks.
Set priorities and always work on the most important thing
It sounds simple, but it's vital always to be working on the most important and urgent thing. If you lose sight of what tasks to prioritize for your team, have a closer look at what activities will produce the most significant impact, and provide the highest value. It's easy to succumb to the temptation of going for the easiest task and project first, but you should be advised to resist this convenience. Your top priorities should always align with business goals that are infused in your project plan.
Therefore, the project manager should know which task has the highest possible impact and prioritize effectively.
Balance the workload and timelines across multiple projects
It's essential to have an overview of how much work each team member has on their plate across all projects. And this is another potential danger of planning your projects in different documents or apps - you won't have the means to see every task for every member of your team across all your projects. If you're relying on your team to let you know when their workload is too much or too little, or you're wasting precious time going back to different sources of information, you'll have a big challenge of staying on top of your work. You'll miss deadlines, your projects might spiral out of control, and your team members will be over, or even worse, underutilized.
Having a single point of trust for all your projects is an excellent first step to staying clear of this issue.
Remain flexible when priorities change
Having a bird's eye overview of all your team's activities will ensure your team has an easy way to track all changes, assignments, discussions, and shifting priorities.
As much as it's crucial to set team priorities and align your team to work on the most important thing, being flexible to make changes and pivot is also an essential part of project management operations. But if you track your tasks and communicate in spreadsheets and to-do lists and across multiple collaboration tools, it can be hard to know what your team is working on at a given time. As a result, when you suddenly switch priorities, you won't have an overview of what they need to reschedule, how much they have on their plate, or how to track the work you're putting on hold.
Know when to delegate
Once again, we're back to the single point of trust. If you're looking to walk that fine line between micromanagement and being an absent manager, sharing a central source of information with your team is paramount. You should delegate work — but also retain visibility.
And yes, we all hate micromanagers. However, no project manager likes to lose sight of tasks and timelines. Being in the dark about your team's activities can make it almost impossible to be an effective leader.
When all of your work is organized in a centrally shared project management tool, you can get a real-time insight into what's on everyone's plate, how well your team is doing, and how well your projects are progressing. That way, you can check in on the tasks without micromanaging your team.
Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities Cheat Sheet
While you're balancing multiple projects at once, you are bound to give more attention to certain items. To become a good and effective project manager, you must remain focused on your work’s most crucial part. One neat trick to achieve this is to assign a specific time estimate to each task according to the priority, availability, and time limits. This way, you can ensure that your efforts are focused on the right thing, and every task fits within a planned timeline.
Communicate, coordinate, collaborate
Perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of project management is effective team communication. Many popular project management methodologies like Kanban or Scrum focus on maintaining a collaborative platform where every information and request is shared with the entire team. This becomes even more important when you're managing multiple projects. The team must be aware of any potential problems and discuss their solutions before any significant delays in the projects appear.
Fine-tune your plans through regular reviews
It makes no sense to cling to the original roadmap if the circumstances warrant a change of plans. We already mentioned flexibility as one of the most important project manager attributes. When managing multiple projects, there are many variables in play, and even one of them can sometimes change the entire flow of your projects. Your key player might get sick, your clients might give new guidelines, your budget calculation might be a bit off. Therefore, regular review sessions and retrospectives can lead to tweaks to the original plan that will help you drive across the finish line within your timeline and budget.
Use every tool at your disposal
Even the best project managers need a hand, and there's no way to keep everything in your head. Indeed, a project management software is a valuable ally to every project manager and their teams. Modern project management platforms such as ActiveCollab are equipped with all the necessary tools to successfully finish all your projects. From planning and organization all the way to getting paid for your work - choose a tool that will help you manage multiple projects at once without unnecessary headaches.
Working on multiple projects at the same time requires extreme dedication and skills. A powerful project management software will make your life easier.