Multiple Project Management: 22 Tips for Capacity and Competing Deadlines
The Unequivocal Guide to Help You Succeed in a Multiple Project Management Role
Have you ever been faced with an insurmountable list of tasks and priorities? Do you wish you could get on with your work week without the need to sleep? Or that you could grow an extra pair of hands? If so, what you may need is to expand your team. If that is not the case then, perhaps, learning about how to apply multiple project management best practices may be just the thing. In this week’s blog post, we will:
- Define Multiple Project Management or Multi-Project Management (MPM)
- Give you practical tips and tricks to effectively manage multiple teams and projects
- Guide you through all the above when faced with tight and competing deadlines
What Is Multiple Project Management?
Multiple Project Management (MPM), also known as Multi-Project Management, is defined as how a project manager selects, plans, and has a comprehensive overview of an organization’s entire project landscape. In executing a successful MPM initiative, the project manager needs to account for all variables that affect it. Such variables include changing priorities, varying team capacity and availability, and clashing deadlines. You must find the style that fits you to deal with them properly. Doing so is half the battle won! Now that we have defined MPM, let us move on to the most pertinent questions.
What Is the Best Way for Project Managers to Organize Multiple Projects?
We hate to be the bearers of bad news – there is no one-size-fits-all in MPM. The strategies and tactics you need to use entirely depend on your circumstances. While there is no straightforward answer to this, it helps to ask yourself the following:
1. What objectives do you want to accomplish?
At this stage, you need to think big and brave. Imagine yourself at a time when the project has been completed – what outcomes would you like it to produce? What results would make you and your stakeholders feel satisfied? A project whose outcomes exceed the resources and time it takes to complete it is a successful one.
2. Who are your main stakeholders?
Next, make a thorough list of all stakeholders involved, together with their dependencies. This is the simplest and most straightforward task, yet crucial to your project’s smooth execution and eventual success. When you think about stakeholders, it helps to think in terms of the skill sets needed to carry out the project.
3. Which departments or individuals do you have to involve in it?
Continuing from the above, make another sub-list of your dream team project participants. Be uncompromising in wanting to bring together the best people that will make the project flourish. Think about the members of your organization that always deliver the best. Now that you have your lists together, move on to step 4.
4. What will their roles and responsibilities be?
Your project team members are your puzzle pieces. Where does each one fit, and what is the reasoning behind it? Once you have allocated all roles and responsibilities, examine your project plan for any omissions or repetitions. See if there is a skill set missing or if you have added one too many chefs in the kitchen. Finally, make note of people whose help you can enlist in place of your dream team. We live in an imperfect project management world. Having a people plan B always comes in handy.
5. What is everyone’s availability like?
Before jumping into project specifics, it is paramount that you have a clear picture of everyone’s availability. Reach out to them and their managers to present the project. Ask them what the next few weeks or months look like for them. Find out if they have any other work-related priorities that they are preoccupied with. What about their upcoming time off? Can you agree on a rough timeline that suits all parties?
6. What timelines are the most realistic?
You are now equipped with all you need to know to set out your project’s timelines. By factoring everything in, this should be a pretty effortless process. Data is your best friend here. By consulting it for past successful projects, you should get a great idea for how long it will take your organization to execute your current project. Then, add all other project deadlines and blockers to your timeline. The final time frame will reveal itself to you.
7. Identify and define project budget
A project with no budget is like a body without a soul. By defining the budget available for each project, you can adjust its scope and activities involved. After all, no one wants to set up campaigns, ads, and webinars for something that may end up costing too much. Follow this simple step to avoid wasting human and monetary resources.
8. Know your tools
What project management tools are at your disposal? It is especially useful to know each tool’s capabilities and how you can use it to reach your goals the quickest. At this stage, you may want to request access to tools you have no access to yet, or request that your organization subscribes to additional ones.
9. What checks will you put in place to track progress?
Think in terms of using a creative operations solution that tracks progress, time and effort needed. Such software allows you to set project priorities and add blockers and participants. Everything operations-related in one place, automated so you can focus on the creative side of things. Set it and forget it.
This is where Lytho’s Creative Operations platform can automate everything for you.
10. Now that you have all the necessary information, it is time to reach out.
Now is the right time to reach out to your dream team members and get them pumped about the project. Make sure to involve their direct reports in the conversation, too. Lay out the project objectives, where each member’s contribution lies, and the time frames associated with it. Be prepared for questions and possible rejections.
11. Rinse and repeat
Now that you have gone through the trials and tribulations of the planning stage of your project, you need to do the same for every other project you will manage. Repeat the process until you are happy with the results.
How Do You Manage a Team that Has Multiple Projects Assigned to It?
1. Exercise decisive prioritization
The single most important thing you can do to help your team navigate through a multitude of competing projects is decisive prioritization. Assign a priority level to each one of your projects and have your team work on what is more pertinent and pressing. At this stage, you need to organize and optimize how you distribute work. Which project items need to be finished by EOD today? Is there anything that can wait until tomorrow or next week?
2. Be assertive
Next to that, you must communicate all project-related updates to your stakeholders. Do so in an assertive way and let them know that your teams are working on deliverables as fast as they can. Make sure to convey understanding for where your stakeholders come from and exert your influence where necessary when things get tight or unrealistic. YOU know how to carry out these projects the best! Struggling with imposter syndrome? Then, read about the 15 ways to overcome it in the workplace.
3. Manage expectations
By managing expectations effectively, you will give yourself and your team(s) the necessary bandwidth to deliver while keeping your stakeholders aligned. This is arguably the trickiest part of (multiple) project management. A constant balancing act that you need to perform with care and consideration for all parties involved. It helps to have sound reasoning behind every change that you communicate.
4. Know when it is time to delegate
A successful project leader knows when it is time to call for reinforcements. If your teams have reached their maximum capacity and there is still work to be done, ask for help. Go to the relevant department leads and ask if they have any resources to offer. Alternatively, you may want to put certain non-essential tasks on hold until someone can take them on. Or perhaps you may want to give the team a hand yourself?
5. Recalibrate and communicate
Projects change like the seasons. You should evolve your strategy with the projects you manage, not against them. If your priorities change, your timelines are altered, or your team’s capacity unexpectedly changes, then go with it. Recalculate your timelines and resources and communicate all changes to your stakeholders. Done!
How Do You Manage Multiple Projects with Competing Deadlines?
1. Prioritize each project and task by urgency
Start your multiple project management efforts on the right foot. Create a master view of all your planned, ongoing, and upcoming projects. Place them side by side and identify scheduling conflicts, competing deadlines, and capacity shortcomings.
2. Create a single timeline for all your projects
Now that you know what your master timeline’s shortcomings are, you can get to work on fixing them. Make sure that you assign each of your parallel projects a priority level, so you know which ones to prioritize when the going gets tough.
3. Explore all potential options for flexibility in advance
Flexibility is the savior of every business situation where multiple people and priorities compete for the same resources. Knowing which team members and departments can offer an extra pair of hands, when necessary, will help you create a buffer. Such buffers will act as a safety net that shields your projects from failure by preventing things from getting out of hand.
4. Block time on your calendar to focus
Project management, like all other responsibilities, takes a lot of time. And time is not the only thing of the essence here – what you need next to it, is focus. With the proliferation of remote and laptop-related work, marketing and creative professionals are now expected to perform multiple tasks at the same time. And yet, our brains have not caught on to that. The best thing you can do is to block off time on your calendar so you can focus as needed. No meetings, calls, messages, or any communication of any sort allowed. Be sure to communicate such focus time blocks in advance, though. The last thing you need is to return to a dumpster fire of a workplace after a few hours of absence.
5. Be honest with yourself and your stakeholders
Pride is a vice you are better off leaving at the door if you wish to be a successful project manager. There is no shame in deliverables getting delayed, people calling off sick, and projects generally taking longer to complete than initially thought. So, be kind to yourself. Admit when it is time to ask for help and do so in an open and honest way. You will be positively surprised by the willingness of people to lend a helping hand. Take all the help you can get and see the situation for what it truly is. A wonder of collaboration!
Final Thoughts on Multiple Project Management
Managing multiple projects is quite the beast to take on, but nothing some assertiveness and a ton of organization cannot help you deal with. Follow our tips laid out above, and you will soon find yourself thriving and growing in this demanding environment. Managing multiple projects at the same time is a battle best won before it even starts. So, put all the necessary work in, and it will pay dividends later. Feel free to reference this article multiple times during your project planning journey and ask us any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any other multiple project management tips that we may have missed? If so, let us know!
The Creative Management Series
Explore our extensive series on creative leadership and creative management to prepare yourself for every challenge ahead:
- 10 Creative Leadership Challenges and Solutions in 2023 and Beyond
- Multiple Project Management: 22 Tips for Capacity and Competing Deadlines
- Creative Feedback: Here Are 5 Ways to Give It More Effectively
- Creative Stimulation: How a Simple ‘Ha-Ha’ Can Make You ‘A-Ha’!
- Agile Project Management â The Robert De Niro Way
- Creative Conflicts in Group Projects? Use These 5 Principles to Navigate Them
- Creative Flow: What Is It and How to Get Into It
- How Can You Promote Innovation and Creativity in Your Organization?
- Burnout: How to Prevent It and Keep Your Creative Team Motivated
Looking for tools that will help you address current multiple project management conflicts and provide you with the support needed for future initiatives? Lytho helps you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!