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8 Strategies for Managing Multiple Projects

Learn how to manage multiple projects simultaneously to optimize your time and resources efficiently and improve productivity in your teams.

By Max Freedman  •   February 14, 2024  •   6 min read

Productivity. Efficiency. Workflows. These are all things you’re trying to maximize or optimize at work, and that’s especially challenging when you’re managing multiple projects. For example, you might find yourself achieving the best outcomes for one project while accidentally letting another fall behind. You might also find that you need to get more out of your project meetings in less time to keep things moving. These and all multi-project management problems have relatively simple solutions, as you’ll see below.

What is multi-project management? 

Multi-project management involves simultaneous planning, execution, and oversight of several projects. It’s greater in scope than coordinating multiple tasks and priorities—team members do that every day with their personal to-do lists. In multi-project management, you juggle project lists across projects and people. It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally doable.

When you manage multiple projects, you’ll likely create multi-project management programs that detail each project’s key tasks. This can help you pinpoint repetitive tasks and find ways to make them less burdensome. 

It’s also important to note how multi-project management differs from the very similar concept of portfolio management. Where multi-project management makes one team’s projects and tasks more efficient, portfolio management achieves this across all teams’ projects.

Stay synced with teams and multiple projects

Collaborate on meeting agendas, assign and sync action items with project management tools, and keep track of meeting decisions in one place, ensuring actionable outcomes in every meeting.

Who manages and tracks multiple projects? 

A multi-project manager who manages and tracks projects successfully should rank among the best communicators and most organized people you know. This person (who could be you) should have the following skills.

1Creative problem solving

Sometimes, the best way forward when juggling projects is something you have to make up on the spot. That’s why if you regularly take the initiative to try out new solutions to pressing problems, you’re probably ready to start tracking multiple projects.

2Top-notch multitasking

For managers and direct reports alike, multitasking is a must-have. However, only the very best multitaskers are cut out to learn how to prioritize multiple projects. If you can do great work for every item on your to-do list while still hitting deadlines, that’ll translate perfectly to balancing full-on projects.

3Savvy resource management

Time, people, equipment, money—they’re all resources with obvious limits. Knowing how to manage multiple projects means finding ways to get your people working toward your goals on reasonable timelines. It’s also about making sure everyone can access your key tools when needed and not overspending. If you’re confident you can allocate resources effectively, it’ll be a cakewalk for you to organize multiple projects and pull them off successfully. 

3 common challenges managers face when managing multiple projects 

Eager to start overseeing a bunch of projects at once? Plan for the below challenges—they’re basically inevitable.

1Similar deadlines

Chances are that, at some point, two tasks across two different projects will have the same (or nearly the same) deadline. Your job is to figure out how to make your team members and other resources available to complete all the necessary tasks on time. 

2Scope creep

Sometimes, a project’s requirements or scale change as you move along. This can add costs or constraints alongside more project tasks for your team to complete by the deadline, which might not change. You’ll feel the negative effects of this even more strongly if it’s happening on more than one of your projects. Going into projects with a contingency plan or change control process can help you keep things on the path you originally set.

3Shared resources

What happens when a team member needs to work on two project tasks at the same time? What if one team member needs certain equipment at the same time as another person? These instances of competition for shared resources can slow your projects down. The best multi-project management strategies, though, minimize these obstacles—and, when done well, entirely prevent them.

8 strategies for managing multiple projects 

You’ll use most or all of these strategies to oversee more than one project at once. 

1Use project management software

Project management tools help you and your team members know what’s due and when. You can use these tools to cover all your projects, break down tasks by person, and see who’s involved in which projects. They also help you manage your project meetings.

With Fellow, you can easily assign and track action items to your team, and any incomplete action items carry forward to the next. This way, as you chat about all your projects’ progress, you ensure no stone goes unturned.

2Plan ahead

One key to successful multi-project management is regularly sitting down with team members and stakeholders during a weekly project status meeting. These conversations are the perfect time to plan out your week for each of your projects. Review your deadlines, check in with your team about whether these goalposts are still realistic, and see how your stakeholders feel about everything. Use what you learn to set a path forward.

3Catch overlapping resources

Let’s say you’ve come up with a super thorough resource management plan that gives everyone equal access when they need it. That’s great! But you probably know from experience that projects rarely go exactly as planned. 

For example, team members might work at different paces than expected. As their planned schedules veer off-course, they might need the same resources at once. Great multi-project management means catching this overlap early on—or even before it happens—and figuring out a solution with the team members in question.

4Choose the right team members for each project

Which people in your orbit are best suited to tackle the tasks within each project? What room is there in each of these folks’ task lists to accommodate new assignments? Do these people work together well? Ask yourself these questions as you assemble project team roles and responsibilities, and you’ll set the stage for great multi-project management from the get-go.

5Find each project’s critical path 

Once you’ve laid out the sequence of tasks needed for each of your projects, you can find each project’s critical path. This path represents the longest amount of time the project and each of its tasks might take. With this number under your belt, you’ll have a much easier time plotting out project tasks and giving them to people with enough availability. 

6Make adjustments whenever you need

It’s one thing to set a project plan, and it’s another thing entirely for your team to stick to it perfectly. Chances are you’ll deviate, and when that happens, revisit the plan and change it as needed. 

Similarly, you might find while managing multiple projects that the processes involved in them aren’t getting you what you need. In that case, add an improvement project to your plate to reduce waste, maximize efficiency, and eliminate errors. All your projects will come out better afterward.

7Delegate work

You’re managing the projects, so delegating effectively is how you make sure they’re executed well. It’s also how you keep each of your team members’ workloads reasonable enough that nobody starts falling behind. By delegating, you’ll give yourself the capacity to oversee multiple projects while keeping the people around you on track.

8Prioritize great communication

Status updates, key data from recent reports, and adjustments to the project plan—are all things you should communicate to the team right away. Meetings, quick Slack messages, in-person drop-ins, reports shared team-wide, and comments in your project management software are great ways to get information out. After all, top-notch communication is the key to successful projects.

Master the art of juggling with Fellow 

Regularly sharing updates with your team and vice versa is a huge part of multi-project management. Use Fellow’s time-saving project meeting agenda templates to make the most of your key conversations. With Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot‘s meeting transcriptions, recordings, and summaries, you’ll always have records of the project improvements you discussed.

Fellow also offers native integrations with PM tools, allowing you to ensure information is always synced and up to date across your workflow. Ensures that everything is easily accessible to the whole organization. Plus, Fellow’s meeting guidelines ensure excellent conversations while giving you time back for what matters most: your projects.

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