Handling Multiple Projects II

I put a link of my Blog Handling Multiple Projects to Linked In and it certainly caused a stir. There were some 16 comments and I thought I would share a flavour of some of them with you.

Nico was keen on the use of Managing Successful Programmes model (MSP) however the groups I was referring to were immature in project terms so MSP was not really appropriate. When I explained this in a further posting he agreed and suggested strong leadership as the key

Bev talked about the need to protect people “As a manager, it is up to us to recognize the bandwidth of our team members and protect them from assigning them too many projects as we risk their emotional health as well as the success of our projects”

Chrystall said: “I frequently manage 4-5 projects concurrently and find that you have to be prepared for them from the beginning. You need to be organized from the start, prioritize daily and maintain follow-up. If you do not, it becomes very difficult to play catch up on one project that could start to fail. The experience comes into play when you have this happen once; you do everything in your power to assure it does not happen again!”

Roberts comments were very interesting and practical …. I was tasked with bringing 8 new PMs up to speed. This was on a Monday. The previous Friday they had been technical team leads (programmers). The outcome of this was to create for myself and for distribution to this group my Project Manager’s Notebook. One notebook per project. I put a cover page on the notebook with the title of the project. I created tabs for the notebook to include, among other things, TEAM, SCHEDULE, ISSUES/RISKS, AGENDA/STATUS, WORKING DOCS, etc. Where appropriate I might also use PCRs (project change requests), SOW (stmt of work or mission), BUDGET, MINUTES, PROJECT PLAN, REQUIREMENTS. I use a 1 inch notebook and ONLY have in it the information I need for day-to-day activities. The rest I store in my desk. I created templates for most of these inserts. This helps me to “compartmentalize” my projects and stay organized. This is the information I need and an empty tab tells me I better get the info together. This is how I help myself manage multiple projects and stay focused and organized.”

Cyril added “I would add to reserve weekly time for specific projects, i.e. Monday morning for project #1, Tuesday morning for project #2 etc… so that you know you will only be dedicated to such project on such day, for meetings and others PM related activities. Be sure to leave free time in your agenda though for your own work and to get room for unexpected events, meetings preparation etc”

Perry said: “I managed 11 projects at one point. The only way it worked was to:
1 – organize = whatever tool you want to use (I used a whiteboard) make sure you not only have your meetings scheduled but also desk time and between meeting time – you can’t afford to squeeze your tasks into spare time
2 – prioritize. It was rare that more than one project at a time had a high need for me to step in – it is important that everyone understand the priorities don’t just apply priorities, publish them too so the sponsors and stakeholders know what’s going on
3 – delegate – trust your team members and allow them to make some decisions. Let them know what is in their authority and what isn’t. Set up a way for them to clearly and quickly provide you with updates.
Don worked with staff who were offshore and there were 6 time zones between them and he said that you need COMMUNICATION, TRUST and RESPECT.

Dianna suggested one note

Mark wrote a long posting which can be summed up as:
“I think the key element from the blog and linked information in there is priority and milestones. I am going to stop using the word project and replace with tasks and time management…The key piece is that people generally can not multitask, it is not efficient I think what everyone is saying here is valid, but what I think the blog and piece is really about is how to work efficiently for non Project Managers and how to utilize a few project management paradigms to multi task in an efficient manner. In all do honesty there is no such thing as true multi task, it is just to what level do you chunk out the single thread, the key to this piece is to create a smaller, logical chunk, and to put some thought into what that chunk entails rather than just going at multiple things with out regard to that.”

For me the key is this:

*people need to be organized. If they are not then how will they deliver key business projects or anything on time?
*people need to understand which projects are priority – often they do not and one wonders whether their sponsors know
*breaking down milestones into bit sized chunks will really help people deliver
*use what is appropriate for you; for some it may be MSP, others a white board, others trust, respect and communications. Each person will use what suits them. This is fine provided people are organized.

I end this blog with the same ending from my last one; if you are one of those that is well organized great, if not…you will struggle with delivering a project let alone multiple projects. If you are one of those that is well organized, please, explain to those that do not have your skill how you do it! It could save a lot of time and heartbreak!

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2 Responses to Handling Multiple Projects II

  1. Emma Jones says:

    Very nice article on time management. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Pingback: The Perils of Project Multitasking | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead

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