Technical Pathways
Tip Sheets

Enterprise Project
Management Videos

A Bridge to Enterprise Project Management, Part 1


Managing Multiple Projects

Managing multiple projects will always be a challenge; organization and consistency prevents it from being a chore.  This service organizes multiple project workloads by applying project management techniques, as needed, from the list that follows. 

      • Project Identification
        The first step is to identify the actual projects in the overall workload.  Goals, initiatives, on-going work and other elements are often misidentified as projects.  Actual projects respond well to project management; non-projects do not.
      • Project Inventory and Grouping
        The second step is to develop a project inventory and group similar projects together.  Coordinating similar projects offers a direct benefit to productivity.
      • Project Prioritization
        Prioritization is the on-going dynamic of managing multiple projects.  It is essential for multiple project managers to understand and communicate priorities as they evolve.  It is, after all, impossible for everything to be an "A" priority.
      • Project Phases
        Perceiving multiple projects as a formless mass of tasks precludes managing them much more than one day at a time.  Phases expedite projects by assembling tasks into groups that lead to specific intermediate deliverables.
      • Intermediate Deliverables
        Intermediate deliverables are work products that need to be developed during the course of a project.  They are tied to project phases and are important indicators of a project's progress.
      • Time Estimating
        Arbitrary deadlines are an open invitation to crisis management.  Time estimates based on scope, deliverables and resource availability increase productivity, decreasing crisis management and reflect reality.
      • Resource Allocation
        Allocation of resources, usually people, is the holy grail of managing multiple projects.  The "how and when" of allocating resources to projects can be efficiently managed through resource loading and multi-project scheduling.
      • Roles and Responsibilities
        Who does what when?  People perform best when they understand what is expected of them and writing it down advances this understanding.
      • Decision Making
        Projects can move no faster than the speed of their decisions, but who decides what and when.  PM decision charts highlight who decides, who advises, and other facets phase-by-phase, keeping decisions on pace with projects.
      • Project Interdependencies
        Managing multiple projects depends a great deal on knowing how one project can help or hinder another.  A closer look at project interdependencies leverages cross-project advantages and minimized cross-project competition.
      • Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)
        Schedules break projects down according to time.  Work breakdown structures break them down according to their components and are important for complex projects, such as large capital projects, and projects that draw from several parts of an organization, like new product development. 
      • Risk Management
        The best way to manage risk is to anticipate it.  Identifying risks, developing contingency plans and regression analysis counter risks with substance, anticipation and answers at the ready.
      • Cost Management
        Cost estimating, budgeting and cost tracking are at the heart of cost management.  They also open the way for the ultimate in project cost management, earned value management.
      • Earned Value Management (EVM)
        What is a project's status in terms of time and costs?  What is the project's time to completion, its cost to completion and what will be its total cost at completion?  Is the project ahead or behind schedule and is it getting further ahead, further behind or holding steady?  EVM answers these questions and more.
      • Policies and Procedures
        Procedures can be developed and standardized at middle levels of an orgainzation; policy needs to come from the top.   Procedures lead to standardizing best practices and policies determine what "best" means to the organization
      • Project Organizations
        Some projects can be organized along departmental lines; others benefit from cross-functional organization.  Some projects work well under a single line manager, others are better suited to management that changes and the project itself evolves.  Some organizations benefit from project organizations that exist only for the life of the project, while others need the permanence of a Project Management Office (PMO).  It isn't always a matter of choosing one project organization over another, but one of matching the right types of projects with the right management infrastructure.   

These 16 bullet points cover most of what PM for managing multiple projects can accomplish.  It is best to think of them as chapters in a book where one does not need to read every chapter to find benefits in the book's contents.  Anyone can begin at the beginning with the PM Tip Sheets on separating projects from non-projects and establishing strong project titles.

Scope is the key to implementing better management of multiple projects.  One needs to decide whether the points above are to apply to
an individual, a team, a group, a department or the entire organization.  The higher the level, the more items will apply.  Individuals and teams can obtain the support they need from project mentoring where departments or full organizations need to approach implementing multiple project management as a project itself.  In any case, the higher the level of sponsorship, the more consistent managing multiple projects will be throughout an organization.

See the Multiple Projects Workshop for hands-on multiple project management training, Project Mentoring for organizing the project workload of individuals or small groups, and Support for PM Applications Users for assistance with MS Project or any other PM application.

Technical Pathways for additional information about managing multiple projects.
Privacy policy: Use of e-mail addresses is limited to correspondence about the topic of inquiry.