When was the last time you were managing only one project? Was there ever a time like that? To be completely frank about it, project managers are almost always overloaded with work – and if not overloaded, they’re at least toeing the line. Duncan Haughey, PMP, writes this post providing some of the lessons he’s learned in the trenches of project management. One of the biggest lessons he learned was how having too many projects in flight could lead to some sleepless nights when something unexpected happens:
The more balls a project manager has in the air at any one time, the more likely it is he or she will drop one. Recently this happened to me. At the time I was managing several small and medium-size projects, and failed to notice that one was heading for problems. The project was in the execution phase, with a strict delivery deadline. Unfortunately, I’d failed to realise there was extra testing needed, to guarantee the software applications security on the Internet before it could go live. I’d not planned for this work, and had to scramble days before go live to get a third-party to do the security testing. Luckily they had people available and we met the deadline, but it caused some sleepless nights and didn’t improve my reputation as a project manager.
Haughey then goes on to list some of the quick ways project managers can better handle multiple projects. He says that learning to say “no” is important, especially when you’ve got enough projects already. He also suggests making sure not to take shortcuts to get to other projects more quickly, delegating parts of projects to others, and setting priorities correctly.
All of the tips Haughey suggests come from his experience and not from a textbook - making them invaluable to the new and experienced project manager alike. While there isn’t a way to limit yourself to one project at a time, you do have methods for more effectively managing the multiple projects you face as a project manager.