Leading a company that offers project management software, I've had the opportunity to hear many project war stories from customers, investors, and mentors. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share them with you in the hopes that they help you improve your own management skills. This is part 2 in a series called the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Managing Multiple Projects.

Before you read this piece, please take a look at the first part on Micromanagement.

Mistake #2: Careless Project Planning

There is a great temptation to not think too deeply about your plan and just dive into the doing.

In a corporate setting where every project must contribute to the organization's bottom line however, this gung-ho attitude spells failure.

Remember that one of the most important reasons for project management failure is having project plans merely sitting on the shelf. A project plan that is non-existent, unused, out-of-date, incomplete, or poorly constructed leads to mistakes in project execution.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 your project plans updated, 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 be, and even blowing your budget. As a result, your team members end up with delays in the completion of their tasks. And this all directly influences your project delivery date.

Winning strategy #2: Keep Your Plans Realistic and Up-to-date

So how do you keep your project plan current and realistic? Let me lay out three specific ways:

Review, Review, Review

If you want all of your projects to be completed on time and on (or under) budget, it’s important to check the progress of each of your projects on a daily basis. Your project team must believe in their project's goals and schedule. For this to happen, you must review and update your plans regularly; otherwise, your plans will turn out to be useless.

Make Your Plan Flexible

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. Knowing how to manage multiple projects and handling their obstacles efficiently will save you the cost of errors in the initial scheduling.

Have All Information Ready

Have all the information at your fingertips to be able to react to changes on your projects, so that projects are completed successfully. Don’t let valuable information on updates be buried in disconnected files.

Consolidate your data and keep all 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 in Part 3: Mistakes in Project Scheduling.

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For more on project planning, read: