Best ways a project manager can manage multiple projects?

Perhaps the most daunting task is to manage multiple projects at the same time. With a cup of steaming coffee, cracked my brains to get the answers..

Salient points:

  • Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize; take assistance of your bosses and get their confidence
  • Learn to say “No”
  • Be honest to the internal or external client and set the right expectations
  • Make yourself smarter, and encourage the team to be smarter as well
  • Learn new skills and upgrade constantly
  • Use standard effort based on experience, while calculating effort and schedule, adding a buffer of 15% for exigencies
  • Have your leadership team to respect the boundaries of teams, based on capabilities

They may not be perfect; nevertheless, worked for me. By layering things together, it gives a better control, for the project manager (PM) to scan through issues and bring about fixes.  It always helps to have a top view. Try to have dedicated teams for projects, the PM getting and learning new skills, and let the team also learn new skills, not to drown. Sometimes, it becomes difficult, to have too many masters, asking for things on top priority, no magic wand – grounding in the rules, tweaks but not to break processes, try to get more – by managing your own time, and helping team members to manage, managing the questions of other people, trusted relationship with clients and being honest to them, to say “no, can’t do that or deliver it, this week”, keeping the team updated (client/internal team), not to lie to the client and being thoroughly honest and ethical, and keeping all the stakeholders aware, carry out the project scheduling, instill confidence in it, the team should not drop the ball on your timelines, how do you switch context switching/multi-tasking – time block your week, schedule meetings, by activities, managing your environments, creating checklists, any specific tools to use ? use transcription type tool – export it to an MoM (minutes of the meeting) to list down the action items.

Biggest challenge buster is – have your manager protect your boundaries, only this much a person can do, if you want to get things done, give it to a busy person, being aware of one’s limits, anything where you should be good at as a PM?

Use notes – what are the things to do, prioritize things, how to stop anxiety while managing multiple projects – need to find out creative strategies, which will work, plan the week ahead, not too much time on meetings, so that as a PM you can do your actual work… certain synergies – working smartly, not all projects take the same amount of time to manage, note taking and sharing MoM, it is sometimes, an overhead, transform all the action logs and decisions, how do you tell your client, your project is less important than another ?

You can’t but setting the correct expectations, good working relationship, having a faith with the client always helps, how do you manage other third party teams? Talk to their leadership, well in advance, and let them know the urgency as required. Internal projects are always less important than the commercial projects. Which projects can be delivered earlier, escalation to get the job done. Anything that works particularly for a project manager? I am good at seeing the bigger picture, and see the dots joining, only accommodate when you are confident.

How do you manage virtual teams? Get to know your team members, the history and culture that has shaped them. Dynamic environment perhaps has helped me to be quick witted… cutting the time of meetings, take breaks, and come back to work, how do we prioritize? projects and tasks have to have an importance to take smart decisions. They say if everything is priority, then nothing is important. Take the help of top management to guide you, which is important.  Use a rating scale… there will be a red-line, anything below this is not important, so the PM can prioritize. Always inform your boss, of what you are doing…be honest and having a good rapport so that he/she understands.

Use free scheduling tools; using project dashboards, to see the forests and not the trees. Also protecting each other, soak all up, get a support network, always ask questions at the right time, how does the business goes, how you can push all these into the ecosystem of project management.

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