Managing Multiple Projects Simultaneously: 6 Strategies
For small and mid-size companies, managing multiple projects can be a huge challenge. You’ve got clients to keep happy, customers to serve and a reputation to keep intact. If you fall behind with projects and cracks start to appear, it can have a hugely damaging effect on your brand, as well as your overall team morale.
Indeed, small and mid-size businesses know that the best way to reach their goals and grow as a company is to deliver on their promises. This means getting on top of your projects, and staying on top of them.
In this article, we’ll be showing you how to manage multiple projects so that you can put in place processes and structures that allow you to get things right while at the same time ensuring that your team never feels overburdened. We’ll also be looking at the best types of tools for managing multiple projects that will help you streamline your processes.
This is How to Manage Multiple Projects in 6 Simple Steps
1. Set clear goals & responsibilities
Managing multiple projects starts with goals. Unless you create a standardized workflow where goals and responsibilities are clearly defined, deliverables may remain inconsistent.
Worse still, you’ll need to create new processes each time you start a new project.
As such, it’s a smart idea to get off on the right foot by setting and sharing goals, plans and responsibilities from the start so that everyone always knows what’s expected of them.
You need to:
- Clearly outline goals for each project
- Identify who is responsible for each piece of work
- Create schedules and deadlines
When you plan your workload like this, don’t forget to add time for approvals and feedback, too.
Why prioritize your projects?
When you prioritize your projects, you’re able to boost the success rate of your projects by working on those that will have the most impact first. You’ll also sharpen the focus of your team, while at the same time making clear what your most important goals and objectives are.
Prioritization is also about creating the right mindset that allows you to complete the most urgent tasks first so that your team doesn’t start to feel overwhelmed by impending deadlines.
To help you prioritize your projects, first take a look at your company goals and consider which current projects will have the biggest impact on these goals. It should be your priority to first focus on projects that will bring those goals closer.
For example, let’s imagine that your team is currently working on three product launches. In terms of overall effort, time and man/woman power, they’re pretty much the same. What you should then do in this scenario is examine which launch is going to have the most impact on customer revenue and retention. Then, you can make this particular launch a priority.
That said, there will be times when your priorities change. When this is the case, you need to make sure that your team is flexible enough to quickly shift priorities and reassign work.
Also, it’s really important that you keep communicating with your team to ensure that prioritized tasks are on track.
3. Always communicate
Following on from the above point, it’s impossible to over-stress the importance of good communication when it comes to managing multiple projects.
Communication is the foundation of success because it allows everyone to understand what’s happening, when it’s happening and where it’s happening.
It also ensures that, whenever a timeline has shifted or a priority has shifted, everyone is kept in the loop. Good communication also lets everyone know how a project is progressing and it keeps morale high.
There are a number of ways you can improve communication. You can schedule and hold regular team meetings, either in-person or online using a video conference software such as Zoom, where everyone has the chance to share ideas, updates, challenges and small and large details.
You can also invest in a communication tool, such as Slack, and even a live chat. Such an app is ideal for shorter, instant messages whenever quick updates are needed, while tools like Slack are useful for sharing projects, ideas, updates, assigning tasks, commenting on tasks and more.
Whichever communication tools for managing multiple projects you invest in, it’s really important that you choose ones that act as a centralized hub. This way, it’s much easier for everyone to track conversations, join in conversations, tag others, share files and more. It also means that no time is wasted tracking multiple projects and important information down.
4. Delegate wisely
Knowing how to organize multiple projects as a team leader of a small or mid-sized business is understanding that you can’t be an overbearing micromanager. At the same time, no one wants to lose sight of what’s going on so that they feel as though they’re fumbling around in the darkness.
Delegation is key to successfully managing multiple projects. Yet, like many things centered around project management, it’s both an art and a science. For some managers and team leaders, delegation is tricky because they often think they can do it better, or they assign the wrong tasks to the wrong people, or they just don’t want to waste too much time delegating.
But delegation, when done correctly, can be the secret weapon to managing multiple projects. Here’s a quick breakdown of key principles of delegation in project management:
It’s important that you always choose the right person for the right job. This requires intuition, but it also requires you to listen to others and what and who they recommend. Once you’ve chosen the right person, you need to communicate the instructions clearly so that nothing is lost in translation, or missed altogether. You also need to convey your company’s goals and objectives here, too.
To make sure that projects are completed on time and that you’re able to stay organized, you should also provide adequate resources and training to each member you’ve delegated a task to. Among other things, this will reduce the risk of delays.
And while it’s important that you hand over responsibility and authority, you still need to monitor the progress and provide regular feedback to ensure team members and the projects themselves stay on track.
5. Monitor expenses
Naturally, small and mid-size companies have smaller budgets than larger businesses. So while it’s important to take on more clients and tackle more projects, it’s essential that you track expenses so that you don’t spend more than you can afford.
After all, projects cost money. Sometimes, they cost a lot of money. And while it’s easy to simply focus on time and organization when it comes to learning how to manage multiple projects, the price needs to be a consideration, too.
You can start by identifying items that are going to cost you money (in other words, your budget items). These may include any tools and software used by your team, as well as equipment, travel expenses and any other resources you can think of.
You can then create a budget built around your variable and fixed expenses and costs. You need to figure these out before you go ahead with a project because your budget is going to form the umbrella that covers all your project expenses. It’s also at this point that you will learn whether or not you can even afford to take on a particular project.
Then, it’s important that you assign someone the role of tracking your finances. When costs are getting out of hand and going over the allotted budget amount, this individual can ring the alarm bell. At the same time, they also need to monitor and control all expenses in real time.
6. Tools for managing multiple projects
Managing multiple projects is a lot easier when you’re using the right tools. And because companies on average claim to change their subscription stack by 43% each year, it’s important that you choose your tools correctly so that resources aren’t wasted searching for another.
Here are the types of tools for managing multiple projects that we recommend:
1. To Do list tools
To do list tools are excellent ways of organizing information and helping your team prioritize tasks.
2. Workflow tools
Workflow tools are essential for managing multiple projects because they let you track tasks as you and your team move through different stages. You can see progress at a glance and what needs to be done next, and by what time.
3. Communication tools
As we mentioned earlier, communication tools aren’t simply methods of opening up the lines of communication between team members. They wear various hats. They make it easy to share content, ideas, updates and feedback, they improve morale and they ultimately ensure that everyone stays on the same page on multiple projects.
4. Time tracking tools
When we fall behind with a task or project, it becomes much harder to manage numerous ones at the same time. This is where a time tracking tool like Everhour comes in. They increase productivity and efficiency, improve transparency among your team members, and show you how long and how much it costs to complete specific tasks and projects. This alone can improve the way you manage projects.
Managing Multiple Projects: Final Thoughts
Managing multiple projects as a small or midsize business is essential if you want to keep clients, sponsors and stakeholders happy.
Following the advice in this article will help you stay on track, but it’s also a smart idea to never bite off more than you can chew. In other words, if you simply can’t afford to take on more projects right now, make this known as soon as possible. Only do what you and your team can manage, don’t overburden your team, but keep communicating!