5 Most Common Mistakes in Managing Multiple Projects: Learn to Avoid Them (Part 2)

Andrew Filev , Sunday, March 28, 2010
This is the second post in the series about 5 most common mistakes people make in managing multiple projects simultaneously. Before you read this piece, please take a look at 5 Most Common Mistakes in Managing Multiple Projects: Learn to Avoid Them (Part 1).

Mistake #2: Careless project planning

There is a great temptation to not think too much over your plan and just dive into the doing. Remember that one of the most important reasons for project management failures is having project plans sitting on the shelf. A project plan that is nonexistent, out of date, incomplete or poorly constructed leads to mistakes in project execution.
Most of the project management mistakes made are due to a lack of efficient and up-to-date project plans. Once you fail to keep you project plans up-to-date, you fail to monitor and influence the progress of any of your projects. You also end up being busy for longer than you need to and spending more money than you’re allowed to spend. Your team members will postpone and delay their completion of tasks. This will directly influence your project delivery date.

Winning strategy #2: Keep your plans realistic and up-to-date

If you want all of your projects to be completed on time and on budget, it’s important to check the progress of each of your projects on a daily basis. Review, Review, Review. Your project team must believe in their project's goals and schedule. For this to happen, you must update your plans regularly; otherwise, your plans will turn out to be useless. When you manage several projects at a time, you need to be ready to instantly react to unexpected changes within a project and adjust your plan for them. Make your plan flexible. This will save you the cost of errors in the initial scheduling. Have all the information at your fingertips to be able to react to changes on your projects, so that the projects are completed successfully. Don’t let valuable information on updates be buried in disconnected files. Consolidate your data and keep all the project-related files in one place. Make it easily accessible to the appropriate people. Having all the information at hand will allow you to know where each of your projects stands at any given moment.

To be continued. I'd like to thank those who commented on the first part of these short series. Your notes prove that I'm going in the right direction. Please do continue to share your thoughts.

Comments (8)

  • Pawan, Wednesday, 31 March, 2010
    1. Self organisation for a leader is not a personal decision, as his personal habits and self-discipline directly affects those he leads and those who await the outcome. Planning should be simple and easy to understand and implement.
    2. It is not necessary to have all the details in your mind at all times, however PM is expected to have committed to memory important events, schedules etc not as an additional effort but because he has been a part of creating and reviewing these.
  • Neal Jacobs, Tuesday, 06 April, 2010
    Valuable comment, Pawan. However, Andrew does not call us to keep all the project info in our heads. This would be a total nightmare! Instead, he offers to create or adopt a system where all the data will be stored and where team members can access it any time.
  • Kurt, Tuesday, 06 April, 2010
    Love the series. When will you go on?
  • c williams, Wednesday, 14 April, 2010
    Can anyone recommend a great Agile project management tool?
  • Andrew Filev, Wednesday, 21 April, 2010
    @ c williams: I try to keep the Project Management 2.0 blog free from promoting or recommending any technology solutions. But if you are interested, you can check out wrike.com. Our tool is used by many agile teams worldwide.
  • Inebi, Wednesday, 07 July, 2010
    Recently I was project manager were I had to manage and collaborate with 3 teams, (Nigeria, Spain & London). For a new project manager I found this challenging and I know it affected the quality of planning, as I had no previous planning LEAD experience. I think I did my best as the executive who were in Nigeria were not sure of what they wanted to really deliver from the project. The scope kept on growing bigger, bigger &just changing! I was left with making decisions that would move the project forward. Am not sure of my project plans but project was delivered and the board felt I had done a wonderful job. In conclusion I need to plan properly and keep to the plans. Stakeholders (executives) should know what they want. This is really an example of a project manager who is not so experienced working in an environment that does not have mature project method, systems and processes in place.
  • Bruce Lofland, Wednesday, 04 August, 2010
    When you talk about having all the project-related files in one place, are you talking about having a project repository for each project that the team and stakeholders can access? If so, i agree that it is very important. It is even more important to track against the plan and update it. If you don't do this, then you just degrade into creating action items every week without a plan.

    Bruce Lofland
  • Andrew Filev, Thursday, 05 August, 2010
    Inebi, it's a great story. A lot of the readers here are "accidental project manager" just like you, so I'm sure they'd appreciate to hear more tips and tricks from your experience. Your comments (as are others' comments) are very welcome in the future posts.
    By the way, several PM bloggers (including me) have just finished writing a book for accidental project managers. It's in the editing phase now. I'll blog about it and will even post some chapters a bit later.

    Bruce, absolutely! If we don't manager our projects, they manage us:-)
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Andrew Filev

Andrew Filev is an experienced project manager and a successful entrepreneur. He has been managing software teams since 2001 with the help of new-generation collaboration and management applications. The Project Management 2.0 blog reflects his views on changes going on in contemporary project management, thanks to the influence of collaborative web-based technologies. More >>

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