As the name suggests, project management is the discipline of implementing the 6 management principles — planning, organizing, staffing, leading, directing, and controlling — into a project. This is often challenging, especially when you’re dealing with multiple projects. Managing several projects at once can be truly chaotic without the right processes, strategies, and knowledge in place.
In this piece, we’ll share advice on how to manage multiple projects effectively, including challenges, strategies, and tools. We’ll also explore a variety of monday.com features that help optimize multiple project management.
4 common challenges managers face when managing multiple projects
Before diving into the strategies, let’s take a look at the different challenges you may face when you need to manage multiple projects.
1. Unclear or conflicting priorities
Have you ever heard of Murphy’s law? It states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. This simply means that we can’t control everything. No matter how solid your project plan is, things won’t always work as expected. When you’re managing a single client project, handling chaos, solving problems, and facing challenges aren’t that hard. It gets much more problematic when you’re juggling more than one individual project.
For example, let’s imagine that you’re managing 3 different projects. Let’s also assume that all of the projects should be completed by the same date. For some reason, you’re delayed and won’t be able to complete all projects on time. For the next couple of weeks, you’ll only be able to focus most of your attention on one client’s project. How can you choose which project deserves your attention? That’s one of the most common questions you’ll face when dealing with multiple projects.
That’s where project prioritization comes into play. By prioritizing projects, you create a “true north” for your team, which helps them make higher-quality and faster decisions when conflict arises. At the same time, prioritization must be based on project value. You should perform a value assessment on your project portfolio to understand the value of each project and prioritize accordingly.
A project value assessment should measure:
- Project risk: how risky is the project?
- Alignment: is the project aligned with your strategic objectives?
- Financial: is the project financially worthy?
This step, of course, should be done during the initiation phase.
2. Overlapping resources
Another common challenge of multi-project management is the overlap of resources. That is, not being able to handle all the work due to lack of time, capital, talent, etc. For example, let’s say that you’re managing 2 projects which have been assigned to the same person. Each project requires 40 hours per week’s worth of work of a critical resource. In total, they need to work 80 hours each week. The problem? They only work 40 hours a week.
There are a few ways to combat this issue. Some include:
- Hiring more talent
- Paying for extra time
- Rescheduling one of the projects
That’s why resource management and allocation are extremely important, especially when dealing with multiple projects. An organized Work OS is one of the most effective ways to organize your resources and make sure that you don’t end up in trouble with clients.
With monday.com, managing your resources is pretty straightforward. From workload to time spent and even physical resources, monday.com’s visual features help you track, allocate, and reallocate your resources in a single place. This will make it easier for you to organize resources across multiple projects and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
To better understand how monday.com can improve your resource management processes, we suggest you read this comprehensive resource management guide.
3. Competing deadlines
When you’re dealing with multiple projects due on the same date, you may struggle to meet deadlines. To avoid that problem, you should focus on 2 key activities:
- Project planning: developing a clear and solid multi-project plan that helps you understand the big picture.
- Resource allocation: allocating resources for each one of your projects to make sure you can deliver on time.
You should also create a central timeline that helps you oversee your entire portfolio at a glance. This timeline should include milestones, deadlines, project scope, activities, and team members involved. This way, you’ll be better able to block out your entire week and plan your work instead of just reacting to unexpected events.
With monday.com’s advanced project management template, you can manage multiple projects simultaneously under the same board and keep on track of changes. And thanks to monday.com’s multiple data views, you can monitor all your projects from different perspectives and angles, including Kanban board, project timeline, workload, Gantt chart, calendar, and more. This gives you the level of visibility and control you need to coordinate your team and resources across different projects, making sure you complete them effectively and in a timely manner.
4. Information overload
Most projects come with too much information. There are plans, contracts, schedules, client data, and processes, to name a few. Keeping all this information straight in your head and remembering all the details of each project is virtually impossible for anyone. For that reason, it’s important to document all the relevant details of your projects.
To do it, we suggest you use robust project management software that helps you organize all this data in a single repository. For example, with monday.com, you can store up to 1,000 GB worth of data depending on the plan you select.
But storing data is just the first step. You can also organize and categorize that information, as well as manage the entire lifecycle of your projects. That way, you can always come to your account to remember things, oversee your project team, and monitor project progress.
5 strategies to manage multiple projects effectively
Once you’ve understood the challenges involved in project management, let’s take a look at the strategies you can implement to overcome them. The truth is that there’s no specific methodology for tackling several projects at once. That’s the reason some people consider it more an art than a science. That said, here are some ideas you can use.
1. Understand the time cycle and fluctuation of your projects
Not all projects are created equal. Some projects hardly change from month to month, whereas other projects change daily. Some others seem to change every 10 minutes.It’s important to carefully analyze and recognize these patterns to know how you should oversee specific projects. After all, you can’t always give the same amount of time to your entire project portfolio.
The right Work OS can help you identify these fluctuations more easily. With monday.com, you get access to fully customizable dashboards that help you visualize how your projects are progressing. You can track changes, performance, deadlines, activities, and any other critical element of your projects. This way, you’re able to better understand which projects need your immediate attention and which can wait a bit.
You can also create customizable reports to explore the past performance of your projects and optimize your strategy moving forward.
2. Centralize your workspace
Centralizing all your projects into a single place is one of the best ways to overcome the challenges of managing multiple projects.
Centralizing your workspace means:
- Building a single source of truth by migrating all your project information into a single place
- Bringing your entire team to work under the same platform
- Defining a single communication channel
- Integrating your tools and apps
- Managing all your projects in one place
When you can manage all your projects in a single place, you can:
- Spot conflicting deadlines and avoid resource overlapping: visualizing all your projects together on the same platform can help you identify conflicting deadlines and overlapping resources much faster.
- Define better priorities: understanding the overall picture will help you define priorities with more ease.
- Get rid of information overload: handling all your information in a central repository simplifies the project management process.
A solid Work OS is the easiest and most practical way to centralize your project management. With monday.com, you can manage unlimited projects, invite up to 200 team members, integrate over 40 of your favorite tools and apps, communicate in context, and track everything from a single place. monday.com is also fully customizable, so you can easily adapt the platform to any type of project, regardless of its complexity.
3. Delegate with confidence
Delegation is one of the most critical aspects in a multi-project environment. If you can’t delegate activities to your team members, you won’t be able to manage the increasing volume of work involved with juggling more than one project.
That’s where the military term “commander’s intent” comes in handy. In the army, the word “intent” represents the desired outcome of a specific military operation, helping soldiers make better decisions throughout moments of uncertainty. They understand the most important fundamentals of the mission and can act based on judgment or common sense instead of just following orders.
When you manage multiple projects, you need to make sure your team understands your “intent,” those high-level objectives that direct your efforts. This way, you empower them to make decisions on their own and complete their mission more effectively instead of micromanaging every action.
When you trust that your team knows what to do, you’re able to turn your attention from project to project without feeling overwhelmed. In other words, delegate all the tasks that you can so you can focus on the activities where you need to provide a higher level of contribution such as:
- Mission-critical decision making
- Stakeholder management
- Team training and coaching
4. Standardize processes
Even though your projects are all different in some way, many of them likely follow similar patterns. Some of them may use the same documentation or procedures. Some of them might follow the same structure. Others may require the same tasks. By standardizing these processes and operations, you’re able to save time while working on multiple projects. Instead of tackling each project from scratch, you can use templates and checklists.
5. Use the right technology
Trying to manage multiple projects with spreadsheets or pen and paper alone is hard, if not impossible. With so many variables at hand, manual work can lead to many errors, inconsistencies, and problems along the way. That’s why you should look for a system that’s specially built for multiple project management. For example, monday.com can help you make your projects more controllable while managing huge amounts of information.
To do it, monday.com offers a wide variety of features, including:
- Visuals: different data visualizations and a user-friendly interface.
- Customization: a fully customizable platform you can adapt to your exact business needs.
- Scalability: the opportunity to bring your entire team and manage unlimited projects.
- Reporting: powerful reporting dashboards to oversee your projects throughout the entire project life cycle.
- Integrations: seamlessly integrate over 40 of your favorite tools in a few clicks.
- Task management: manage tasks in a multi-project environment with efficiency.
- Context switching: switch between different projects in seconds.
To get a complete overview of everything you can do with monday.com, we suggest you watch this short video:
Frequently asked questions
How to manage multiple projects?
There are several things you can do to help you manage multiple projects at the same time. Begin by analyzing work data to assess the different time requirements of each project. Then, consolidate all of your workflows into one place with a single Work OS. Delegate as many tasks as you can to team members. Standardize processes and operations whenever possible to save time. And last but not least, use the right technology built to optimize multiple project management.
How do you manage multiple projects with competing deadlines?
Competing deadlines are a common problem with multiple project management. You can deal with this by developing a clear multi-project plan and allocating resources for each project to make sure you’ll be able to meet each deadline. A central timeline that allows you to see your entire process and workflow portfolio in a single place is an invaluable tool in helping you plan work in advance.
How do you manage multiple projects in monday.com?
monday.com is designed to help you manage multiple projects with ease. The visual features allow you to track and allocate all of your resources in a single place. The advanced project management template lets you manage multiple projects on a single board and track any changes. Multiple data views enable project monitoring from a variety of angles, with fully customizable dashboards helping you visualize how projects are progressing.
The right process + the right platform = multi-project success
Managing multiple projects simultaneously comes down to using the right technology and implementing the right strategies. Today, you learned 4 of these strategies. You also got 7 essential features and tools to look for when choosing a project management software for your business.
At monday.com, we provide you with all these features and more. To see for yourself, take a look at our project management template. It’s fully customizable and can help you manage unlimited projects under one roof.
Check out our relevant resources around the execution phase of the project lifecycle: