If you’re managing multiple projects at once, it can be easy to give all your attention to the most difficult projects. It’s easy to stay focused on the riskiest, or the one with the loudest customer, or the most complex.
There are times when you may need to manage multiple projects at once.
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to devote all their attention to just one project.
I’ve managed as many as twelve projects at one time. And I’ve heard of project managers who lead even more than that.
It can be difficult to ensure they all continue to move forward.
Especially if you’re waiting on others to complete the list of outstanding action items and dependencies.
But even if this is the case, don’t just sit back and wait for others to let you know they’ve completed their work and hope that it’s all being addressed.
You run the risk of letting things slip and fall behind.
You can still take action to keep forward momentum. There’s one thing you can do each day to keep your projects moving forward.
By doing this one thing, you can continue to move those projects toward meeting your target milestones.
To do so, ask yourself this one question each day:
What can I do today to move my project forward?
This question will help you identify areas in your projects that need attention.
Here are a few suggestions of what action you can take to identify areas you may need to address to keep the momentum going:
- Pull out that Action Item log and see who is getting close to their delivery deadline.
- Review your project schedule to see what’s coming up soon.
- See where you may have dependencies on another team that may impact your schedule.
- Consider what communications may need to be developed or sent around your project.
- Anticipate questions or requests for information about your project, and compile data or metrics needed for reporting.
And reach out to team members or customers who also may have responsibility for any of these items to see how it’s going.
There may be something big you can do. Or it may be something small, that if not addressed, could turn into something big.
It may be that you can schedule a meeting for an important discussion. Or send a reminder of an upcoming project activity.Ask yourself each day what you can do to move your projects forward. Especially if you manage many projects simultaneously, don't let them be forgotten and fall behind. Click To Tweet
I once had a customer team who was scheduled to test software we developed for them. We built the testing schedule around their requested dates. I trusted all was well and as we got closer to the testing dates, I reached out to talk about meeting them at their site to test.
They sounded surprised and said that most everyone had decided to take vacations that week. There would be no one to test the software. They asked to change the schedule and move the dates out.
This shifted our delivery milestone date later, and we would not hit our original target.
The team was disappointed but we worked around it.
If I had reached out earlier to remind the customer of testing, we may have been able to stick to our original schedule. I was juggling eight other projects at the time, and it was easier to assume the schedule would stay as planned. I assumed since they had picked the testing dates all would be fine.
But had I simply looked at each project each day to question what I could do to move it forward, I may have avoided the delays.
I’ve had other situations where people simply got sidetracked and didn’t complete deliverables they were responsible for. By touching base in advance of the due date, a gentle reminder helped keep them on track.
Make a practice of asking yourself each day what you can do to move your projects forward, even if your schedule is well planned, team members are working on it, and all action items are assigned.
As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure you keep things going forward.