Businesses who work with many brands and clients have mastered the art of juggling all too well. Project managers and team members have to hop from task to client while trying not to leave something behind.
As exciting as the challenge may get, managing multiple projects can easily turn into a hot mess. How can managers avoid that while keeping productivity (and sanity) up?
Tips for busy projects managers
A new client has just confirmed the job and your team starts working on the project. That’s great!
But then comes another, and another. And as projects pile up, it’s more and more difficult to keep up with the busy schedules. By organizing tasks and team members, and using the right tools, managers can bring all projects to success.
Given that every business has their own organization and processes, a few good general rules on planning, prioritization, and time management can help survive the busiest times.
#1 – Set up goals from the start
If you have too much stuff on your hands and know things are going to get tough, don’t sabotage yourself before even beginning. Every project, even the simplest ones, should have a clearly defined plan and goals. This will help establish requirements and timelines that will keep the projects on their tracks. And if for some reason a project gets sidetracked, you can refer to the original guidelines to regain control.
Be mindful, though, that sometimes projects can change their scope for many reasons.
Of course, accidents and unexpected requests can pop out any time. But that’s very different from sailing blindly with no clear destination to go to – or even a backup plan.
#2 – Assign clear priorities
By trying to keep all your clients happy, you might end up treating every task and project as “the Number One priority“. Sure, you have to dedicate every client the time and attention they deserve. What you shouldn’t do, though, is to move every task to the top of the list just because you want to keep peace and don’t give the impression of slacking.
You should always know what task is really urgent or important, or both (or neither!).
#3 – Appoint “lieutenants” to help you out
Depending on the size of the business, project managers can rely on other staff members to keep an eye on the more complex parts of the projects.
During the kickoff meeting with your team, identify someone who will deal with the most practical parts of organization and monitoring – like keeping an eye on the group’s progression, collecting feedback from employees, report setbacks, and raise a red flag whenever a problem arises.
It’s hard sometimes to let go of control but when schedules get crowded, being on top of everything every single time is not humanly possible.
By delegating part of the responsibilities to trusted team members without micromanaging them, project managers can catch a break while knowing the things are still under control, keep updated with the project’s progression, and maybe benefit from another person’s perspective, who might bring in a different point of view.
#4 – Let technology give you a hand
Tasks, deadlines, schedules, timesheets, meetings… Imagine them multiplied every time you bring in a new project. Thankfully, technology can help organize and manage the project better.
Time tracking tools will take away the tedious task of manually filling spreadsheets. Employees usually hate having to recall for how much time worked on what. Many of these tools, like Timeneye, offer employees a painless way to track time, and give managers a way of monitoring the projects’ status.
#5 – Automate what you can
With many projects going on at the same time, managers have to be careful about not only the team’s time, but also their own. By automating tasks with the helping hand of technology, you’ll save precious time, without leaving something crucial behind.
The image above, for example, is a weekly status overview email created with Timeneye. It’s basically an overview of what your team has tracked in the last week, delivered weekly to your inbox. Talk about convenient!
Don’t forget: be prepared for setbacks
Despite your best efforts, not all projects are bound to run smoothly and there will be some mistakes and tasks left behind.
How you’ll get out of the situation will depend on your ability to adjust the course of the project. Clear communication with your team and with the client, too, will ensure problems will be dealt with the least friction as possible, by making the process less stressful as possible for the parties involved.
And after most of the storm has passed, don’t neglect to give your team (and yourself!) a little buffer time to catch a break, by diluting the work that’s left and postponing big commitments for a couple of days. You’ll need it, and most importantly, you earned it!
Share in the comments your tips to manage many projects at the same time, we’d love to hear them. Also, make sure to check out this guide on how to use Timeneye to monitor projects.