How do I manage three projects efficiently
9 Strategies for Successfully Managing Multiple Projects
If you're leading a team or a program, you're likely working on multiple projects at the same time. Keeping an eye on all ongoing processes can quickly become overwhelming. Without a functioning multi-project management process, you will find it difficult to prioritize, manage your team's workload efficiently, and control that everything is done on time.
Fortunately, there is a solution for this. Regardless of whether you have to manage the organization and management of several projects at the same time or you want to guarantee your team a manageable workload - these ten strategies will help you to keep everything under control.
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1. Give a home to all of your projects
- problem: Insufficient insight into all of your projects
- solution: Plan and manage all of the team's projects in one place
After weeks of planning and persuasion for your projects, your team is finally ready to go. However, when all of your plans are scattered across documents and spreadsheets, and the actual work is coordinated via email and in meetings, managing your projects can become very time consuming. You are missing important information because you do not have access to files or you have not been CCed in an email. Or your team does the work twice because it wasn't clear who else was working on it.
For example, if you're managing a product roadmap with multiple launches, you want to know exactly how many launches are happening, what each one involves, and when each one takes place. By planning and managing all of your launches in one place, you get a quick overview of all current processes and the status of your entire product roadmap. Which tool should you use for managing multiple projects? If you are new to a tool, the best solution for this task is a project or work management platform. Ideally one that is flexible, easy to use and can be used collaboratively. At Asana, we naturally believe that Asana is an excellent option to consider.
[Download our e-book: Work Management - What It Is and Why Your Team Needs It]
2. Define your goals, plans, responsibilities and expectations right from the start
- problem: Deviations in results and processes
- solution: Clear definition of goals, plans and responsibilities
Without a standard process for planning workflows and projects, each project is likely to be managed differently. As a result, the results are inconsistent. A new process is set up for each new task and a lot of time is lost as a result. At the same time, the likelihood that something will be overlooked increases.
To resolve this issue, make sure that the plans, processes, and responsibilities on your team are clearly established from the start. At the project level, this means clearly defining all goals, every step and every task, including due dates and who is responsible. Make sure you allow enough time for feedback and approvals, as these steps are too easily skipped under time pressure and without clear planning.
Next, plans, processes and responsibilities need to be defined at the program level. Set the goals for your team and communicate the projects with which you can achieve your team goals. Your project goals will help your team achieve them. Team goals, in turn, will help your company achieve its goals.
[Worth reading: The ultimate guide to program management]
To take full advantage of project management, you should establish a few rules for the entire team. In the case of large projects, it is advisable to appoint project managers who write a project description before the project is planned. For projects that your team does frequently, you can create templates so that they are done the same way every time. This saves you from having to reinvent the wheel every time.
3. Prioritize your projects with the greatest impact
- problem: You do not know which tasks have priority.
- solution: Think about how your projects contribute to larger business goals. Which of your projects has the greatest impact? That's where you start.
While the temptation to start with the simplest of projects is great, resist them. Instead, set your priorities based on the contribution your projects make to realizing your business goals. “Your top priorities should be based on these goals and help you get one step closer to them,” says writer Kasey Fleisher Hickey. So, strategically set your priorities, both at the macro level (i.e., by moving a low-cost project to the next quarter) and at the micro level (by sorting your daily to-do list by importance).
For example, let's say your team is working on five product launches at the same time. Although all projects are about the same size in terms of effort and scope of work, one of the products has the potential to influence new customer sales significantly more than the other four. The second, however, would have the greatest impact on customer loyalty and LTV. Since you know that the LTV has a higher priority for your company, you will do everything in your power to ensure that there is sufficient staff available to work on the second product. Only then do you start thinking about the employees who are dealing with projects that have a lower priority.
[Worth reading: How to coordinate multiple projects at the same time in Asana]
This strategy not only allows you to distribute time more efficiently and manage resources better, it also gives you the confidence that your projects are making an important contribution to corporate goals.
4. Make sure that your team can react flexibly to changing priorities
- Problem: Your team has no easy way to capture changing priorities and reassign tasks.
- Solution: An overview of all your team's tasks.
Setting priorities for your team and coordinating with each other are crucial factors. Being able to react flexibly when required is just as essential for success. However, if you record your work in tables and to-do lists of various tools, it becomes more difficult to understand what your team is currently working on. This also means that when changes are made, you do not know what has to be rescheduled, what the workload of each team member looks like or how to record the work that you have put on hold for the time being.
By using a single source of information with your team, you can manage multiple projects and not have to worry about changing priorities. Thanks to the prevailing transparency, you can see at a glance the workload of your team and which tasks it is currently working on. Then, when you need to re-prioritize tasks, you can easily do it without losing any tasks.
[Worth reading: manage multiple projects with Asana portfolios]
Last but not least, remember to always keep the flow of communication open - offline and online. Whether in your project management tool or in your regular one-on-one meetings - find out about their workload from your teammates and make sure that everything goes as planned.
5. Coordinate and clearly communicate expectations
- Problem: There is a lack of clarity between you and those involved about which work will be done and when.
- Solution: Communicate where the work takes place.
Teams have communication problems because they lack an overview: in their own work and that of colleagues, as well as in the work of cross-departmental participants. If you don't know what others are working on, you don't have the context to understand why schedules change, whether priorities stay the same, and how a project is progressing.
But if you communicate where your work takes place, you give both your team and cross-divisional stakeholders comprehensive information about your tasks. And thanks to real-time updates, everyone stays up to date on the progress of the tasks.
[Worth reading: How to write an effective status report on your project]
The best way to ensure consistency in your status reports is to use a work management tool that allows you to communicate updates on status and progress right where the work is taking place. Instead of collecting data and updates in many different tables, documents and other tools, you can collect all information with just one click - and share it with everyone involved with just one more click.
6. Consider the total workload of all projects to ensure balanced schedules
- problem: You don't know how much (or little) work each individual teammate has on the table.
- solution: Find a way to see employee workload across projects.
If the planning of the projects is managed in different locations, another problem arises: You have no overview of what each individual employee is doing overall and across projects. That means you have to rely more or less on your team to notify you if the workload gets too big or too light. As a result, you have little chance of potential problems, such as B. to identify missed deadlines in good time and avoid them before they get out of control, or (on the other hand) to identify unused capacities.
A good first step in solving these problems is to have all of your projects in the same place. In the next step, you would like to see all the tasks in each project including the processing period and to whom they are assigned. This gives you the opportunity to identify overworked employees and conflicts in the project timeline in good time. In these cases, you can move, remove, or re-delegate tasks to keep your projects on track. Not all tools have filters that allow this. Pay attention to this important function when making your selection.
[Worth reading: How to effectively coordinate your team's workload]
For example, you have a designer who is responsible for a small task - editing some photos for your next product launch. In addition, he also has to design, print and deliver the brochures, business cards and posters for a conference next month - and all by himself! At the same time, another designer has free capacity. If you have an overview of the workload of all employees, you can quickly identify this discrepancy and reassign the work accordingly.
7. Maximize your team's productivity by adjusting project schedules
- problem: The start dates of your projects were not coordinated and as a result your employees are overloaded, tasks are blocked and projects are delayed.
- solution: Schedule each project taking into account your entire portfolio.
Even if your project has been planned with the greatest care, it can fail when it is executed because it was not scheduled for the respective month, quarter or year with a view to the entire scope of the team's work. For example, if you want to start three different web updates at the same time, they may collide with each other or be delayed longer than expected because your team is trying to do too many tasks at once.
Instead, you should plan and coordinate the work of your team in such a way that the full scope of your workload is taken into account. These tips will help you:
- Postpone start dates for similar projects: Especially if a group is working on several projects at the same time, you should move the start and completion dates. Then the individual employees do not have to try to do their work for five different projects at the same time. Instead, they can focus on one project before moving on to the next.
- Watch out for dependencies: Does the infrastructure review need to be completed before a new website is created? If so, schedule the dependent project to a date after the planned completion date of the first project.
- Mark duplicate tasks: If the same task is to be created for two different projects, it makes sense to bundle them together. Make sure that this task is completed on time so that both projects are carried out according to plan - whether it is the involvement of a new supplier or the purchase of video equipment for the marketing department.
Timing it right can be critical to keeping multiple projects running to plan at the same time and ensuring your team is truly productive.
8. Delegate tasks without losing track of things
- Problem: The line between micromanagement and an absent executive is a very fine line. How do you find the right balance?
- Solution: Use one source of information with your team. This gives you an insight into the work if necessary.
No manager wants to be a micromanager. But when you lose sight of work and feel like you're in the dark and unaware of your team's work, it is virtually impossible to be an effective leader. But the good news is that there is a way out.
By having a single source of information with your team, you can keep track of all the work. When all of your team's tasks are recorded in a central, joint project, you can see at a glance who is working on what, when these tasks are due and how your employees are progressing. This allows you to check the progress of tasks without becoming a micromanager.
[Worth reading: 3 ways to improve your project overview]
9. Capture and save your workflows - you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time
- Problem: At the beginning of each project you create all workflows from scratch.
- Solution: Use templates and simplify the planning process for your projects.
Imagine the following scenario: you have just completed your quarterly marketing campaign and are preparing for the next one. Unfortunately, you don't remember exactly how you arranged the work for the last campaign. Also, so much has changed since then and you are also responsible for coordinating several other projects. You are unsure how you initially planned the campaign. How can you repeat the campaign while making sure you don't miss any important tasks?
You don't have to reinvent the wheel for every project. Instead, you can simply create templates and make it easy to start new projects. In this way, workflows can be used again and again as templates. So when you start a new project, you can easily fall back on custom templates. So the real work starts faster and more efficiently.
Be sure to regularly update your template with new tasks or steps added to the process, as well as new workflows. Think of your template as an evolving document: to make the process as effective and efficient as possible, keep it up to date with best practices and new knowledge. Save your template in your team's central information source so that everyone has access to it and can use it for new projects.
Successfully manage multiple projects at the same time - every time!
For a team leader, managing several projects at the same time is part of everyday job. We hope the following tips will help you keep track of all the components of your project, stay organized, meet all deadlines and achieve your goals - anytime, anywhere.
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