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How to manage multiple projects effectively: 9 essential strategies

How to manage multiple projects effectively: 9 essential strategies
Bitrix24 Team
May 19, 2022
Last updated: May 19, 2022
When they stick to their remit and don’t dive into micromanagement, project managers are capable of taking on around five projects at the same time without skimping on quality.

However, it’s no walk in the park, and you’ll need to implement effective strategies for how to handle multiple deadlines and avoid burning your team and yourself out.

1. Keep all your projects in one place

When you’re thinking about how to manage multiple projects, the last thing you need is a range of different tools that all work in different ways. By sticking to the same tools across all your projects, using them becomes second nature. This helps to cut out a huge amount of frustration, wasted time, and mistakes that happen when you have to learn a new tool every time you open your computer. 

Another crucial advantage to using one platform is the added visibility you get. With everything within the same multi-project management tool, you can see the progress of each one at a glance. Therefore, instead of spending an hour in the morning flicking between reports, you can assess them all at once, identify urgent priorities, and take the stress out of your mornings. 

If you’re looking for the best tool for managing multiple projects, software like Bitrix24 allows you to link task management features with other tools. This way, you can get a visual, color-coded representation of all outstanding tasks in a team calendar. 

2. It’s all in the planning

When you’re feeling the pressure of how to manage multiple projects, it’s easy to want to cut corners and save yourself some time. That’s all well and good, but your planning should be reserved for meticulous, detailed work. 

Some of the areas you should cover include:

  • Setting realistic, clearly defined goals

  • Assigning tasks and responsibilities 

  • Writing up risk management reports

  • Creating contingency plans

  • Factoring in extra time for feedback unexpected circumstances

Workflows are perhaps the best way of planning your tasks. Detail isn’t too important right at the beginning, so just sort out a series of interconnected tasks that combine to achieve your goal. Next, you can add in more specific instructions and deadlines, and assign a responsible person, collaborator, and observers to each task. 

With everybody clear on what their tasks and deadlines are, you can start your project safe in the knowledge that expectations have been set and everyone’s schedules are manageable. Good planning increases the likelihood that all your projects will come in on time and on budget. 
  

3. Rank the importance of your tasks systematically

One of the first things to come to mind when wondering how to manage multiple projects is prioritization. As a manager, you won’t be able to keep everybody happy, and a key part of your job is to allocate your limited resources in a way that is most beneficial to the company.

Especially when managing multiple tasks, you need to avoid choosing the quick, easy projects first and get them done. While the larger juggernauts may seem to move so slow they’re barely noticeable, you’ll be thankful you started them once you get closer to deadlines.

One of the most obvious ways to prioritize your projects is to consider how much they contribute to the company’s overall goals. Yes, this could mean that projects sit on the backburner for quite some time, but until a case is made for the quality of their impact, that is where they should be. 

Make others aware of your prioritization policy. Being a transparent project manager puts everybody else at ease, and if your stakeholders are all aware of your approach, there will be no surprises when it comes to setting your priority list. 

4. Communicate your progress and expectations frequently

It’s no surprise that keeping your stakeholders in the dark about projects they have a vested interest in will lead to a fractured relationship at best. People want to know what’s going on, even if it’s bad news. For example, it’s always better to announce an extension to your project early, rather than letting the problem snowball and springing it on people who are expecting to finish. 

Communication is one of the cornerstones of how to manage multiple projects effectively. It starts at the very beginning of your projects with a level setting meeting and continues with updates to your stakeholders and major announcements throughout the project. If you’re all in the same office, great, you can hire out the meeting room for half an hour. It’s no problem if you’re a remote team either — a video call will do just fine. 

Make time for these sessions in your planning stage. It’s amazing how long you can spend in meetings, and that’s time you can ill-afford to lose. This also helps you stick to your timeframes and end ahead of deadlines rather than running over. 


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5. Prepare to be flexible — multiple projects are demanding!

Flexibility is one of the top strategies for how to manage multiple projects effectively and it covers two areas. Firstly, making sure your team is aware that changes could be made quickly. Secondly, having the tools in place to react quickly to changes without a drop in performance.

Preparing your team for a flexible working schedule

Transparency is crucial when you’re running a fast-paced organization. Therefore, be up-front with your team from the outset about why priorities might change and soften the blow for later.

As time goes by, check in with your team on an individual level to make sure they know how to handle multiple deadlines and working styles. While you might not be able to change their schedule entirely, you may be able to accommodate a few modifications that make life easier.

Flexibility through tools with calendars and Gantt charts

As a manager, you need to have easy access to what your team is working on. This is where team calendars come into their own. With just a click of a button, you can see what each member is working on and shift their tasks to suit new priorities.

Taking your calendars to the next level, Gantt charts give you a clear visualization of everybody’s daily schedule to the minute. Successful project managers often turn to Gantt charts as a technique for how to manage multiple projects effectively and clear up the quagmire of tasks that stack up. 

6. Automate, automate, automate

Running one project is hard enough, but when you’re planning on how to manage multiple projects, you need to use all the technology at your disposal. 

Automations are all the rage now, and if you’re not already using them, it’s high time you started. From automatically assigning tasks to setting recurring meetings, and pinging automatic emails and messages to your team and clients, you can save a huge amount of time with very little initial effort. 

Each automation begins with a trigger, such as a task passing its deadline. Then, you set an action as a response to the trigger, for example, a reminder to the task’s responsible person and an alert to the project manager. You can even customize your automations so that the actions described above happen as the task approaches its deadline.

By using automations to your advantage, you can cut out a huge amount of extra tasks as if you’re delegating work to technology. This frees up extra time for you to focus on what a manager should be doing — not chasing up missing work. 

7. Balance your team’s workload

When you’re managing multiple projects, it’s important not to get so caught up in tasks and deadlines that you stretch your team to breaking point. By running all of your projects from one tool, you can always be aware of every team member’s workload and make adjustments where necessary. 

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s great to have one-to-one meetings with your team to get their perspective, but a smart project manager will nip any potential issues in the bud before they get out of control. Part of learning how to manage multiple projects is getting into the habit of checking workloads. Look at everybody’s schedule once a week and reassign tasks when you see someone is overloaded.

The result is not just a happier, more productive workplace. You are far more likely to reach your deadlines on time if you eliminate time conflicts. However, you may have to adjust deadlines anyway — just make sure it’s sooner rather than later! 

8. Delegate tasks to reduce your workload

When beginners ask themselves how to manage multiple projects at the same time, they often get lost in ideas of a one-person show and let the responsibility get to their head. However, we are unfortunately limited by our brain capacity, and the idea that you can do it all yourself is simply fanciful. 

What we’re really talking about here is the feared micromanager. A boogey-man for team members and seemingly on a mission to burn themselves out, micromanagers never appear on a list of go-to project managers. 

So when thinking about how to manage multiple projects simultaneously, consider where you can delegate. Entrust a second-in-command to deal with sourcing materials, reviewing work, and resolving snags within tasks. This will give you more time and headspace to spend on your own responsibilities. 

If you think this is starting to sound like a project manager making themselves redundant, you’d be wrong. Good leaders are there to work on the macro level, analyzing reports and removing progress blockers. Knowing the limits of your role empowers others, reduces your stress, and produces a better working environment all-round. 

9. Analyze and improve on every project

When considering how to manage multiple projects effectively, it’s easy to focus on what’s in front of you and neglect a bit of self reflection on your performance. However, taking time to look back will improve how you approach your future projects.

  • Write down future improvements throughout your project

  • Check your performance with analytics

  • Implement new best practices to streamline your efforts

  • Save workflow templates for recurring projects

The last point here is especially important in saving time and ensuring quality. As you build your best practices, you’ll include extra little jobs or remove unnecessary steps. By using workflow templates, you can save every change, knowing that next time around you won’t have to rebuild your workflows and remember all the extra details. 

With most of your projects the same as last time and only a few improvements, your team will be able to get right to work without having to relearn processes each time. This flexibility will pay dividends in the future.

You’ve got the knowledge — now get the tools!

Now you’ve got a solid knowledge base for how to manage multiple projects effectively. Work on implementing each one into your management style and you’ll soon start seeing results.

But modern managers simply can’t work effectively without finding the best tool for managing multiple projects. Bitrix24 fits perfectly into this category, with project management software, communication tools, and detailed analytics on both desktop and mobile. From one app, you can launch a series of tasks, monitor your progress, and make adjustments to any or all of your projects. 

Over 10,000,000 leaders have already put their trust in Bitrix24 as their project management hub, so why not try it out for free today?

FAQ


How many projects can I manage at the same time?

Early project managers should hone their skills on one project at a time. However, with more experience, they can handle two to five projects at the same time. Any more than that and quality will start to suffer.

What is the best tool to manage projects?

Project management software is a must have when thinking about how to manage multiple projects simultaneously. However, the best tools, like Bitrix24, include extra features such as:
  • Communication channels.
  • Time tracking A customer relationship manager.
  • Website builders.
  • Analytics.


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