How To Manage Multiple Projects Across Various Business Functions

Here's a look at four ways to effectively manage multiple projects.

Planning to launch a new marketing campaign? That’s a project and would likely be handled by your marketing lead. Does internal research suggest users are not happy with your website’s UX? That’s another project and probably would be managed by your IT or product development team.

Similarly, every department, or business function, has at least one or more projects that it handles on an ongoing basis at any given point of time. Employees who work on these projects work in their little silos and rarely have anything to do with each other. As a result, resources are utilized haphazardly because no one really knows if someone else needs a particular resource or not; and if they do, then in what quantities?

 

Discover Operational Potential

How can a startup, or any organization, be expected to function to its fullest potential when it spends half its time entangled in mixed up schedules, poor planning and coordination nightmares?

Enterprise Project Management, or EPM for short, can solve this dilemma by bringing together various key projects, running simultaneously, under one project management role. The goal of EPM is to ensure all the resources of your business are allocated and managed in such a way that they fulfill project goals while simultaneously meeting organizational objectives.

 

Improve Productivity

We’ve all seen how regular project management can get overwhelming and messy. So you may ask: “Why complicate matters with an enterprise level project management system?”

More often than not, department based project management teams become too shortsighted and narrow in focus to help the organization in any substantial way. With multiple project management teams and project managers in the fray, the tug of war between team for the best resources becomes the new normal. The lack of coordination between teams for timely project deliveries or even prioritization of project goals over larger company goals becomes a daily reality.

An EPM tool that offers a real-time workspace where teams collaborate to get the job done will make your teams more effective. Essentially, it will cut across business functions and act as an overall control mechanism that manages and coordinates the efforts of individual projects. Best of all you can realign individual project goals if they are found to be in conflict with one another – something that would be impossible if project management happened only in departmental silos.

A recent study of 750+ large organizations showed that enterprise level project management offered a significantly higher ROI to the organization’s bottom line as compared to stand alone projects within departments, confirming the effectiveness of an EPM program.

In short, EPM enables:
 

  • Better allocation of resources between projects leading to cost controls.

  • Improved planning of individual projects that ties in to the larger organizational plans.

  • Informed scheduling when each project manager knows how long, or when, every other project is going to take.

  • On-time project deliveries with increased co-ordination and communication between departments and project managers.

 

4 Tips To Manage Multiple Projects

Here’s a look at four ways to effectively manage multiple projects with enterprise project management methods in mind.

 

  1. Assign an AOR.

    A common reason why stellar projects are often DOA (dead on arrival) is that there is little or no understanding of the thought processes that went into the plan. Another reason is, often project objectives clash with larger business objectives.

    Are you often torn between multiple project areas that scream out for attention? With the vast scope of work, there is a definite limit to the depth you can go with individual projects. Assigning a leader, or area of responsibility (AOR), to your EPM program makes sell through much easier. It also ensures projects stick to realistic objectives and expectations.

  2. Invest in the right collaboration tools.

    Project management requires a sound and effective tool to and get all team members on board. A single, robust EPM tool like Wrike, has the capabilities to straddle multiple projects and allow for communication and coordination. An EPM tool helps different project teams share data with each other directly.

    Data sharing between teams means each team does not have to reinvent the wheel. Planning and scheduling projects also becomes easier with real-time collaboration. A messaging service like Slack is another good way to handle multiple project teams. Instead of relying on clunky emails or face-to-face meetings, an instant messaging tool helps the entire team connect in a moment, across devices.

  3. Institute regular reporting.

    To begin with, EPM puts together the overall scope for each project. Once work on a project begins, the next anyone else hears of the project is only when it runs into some kind of trouble or is complete and delivered. Both scenarios are completely avoidable if project teams follow a system of regular reporting and communication.

    A regular report – pick your frequency – of key milestones achieved ensures everyone is on the same page.  If a roadblock or bottleneck is expected, raise a red flag in advance to reallocate resources and help the project chug along as planned.

  4. Develop a matrix reporting process.

    Projects are notorious for derailing business as usual in organizations. For example, a web designer who also works on a particular product development project can get completely sucked into the project, at the cost of his regular work if the right checks and balances are not maintained.

    A good way to ensure that tricky balance is by creating a matrix reporting structure where project members report to both their departmental heads and the project managers. This dual reporting helps to delineate each member’s exact duties while simultaneously helping him allocate his own time and resources in the best way possible.

 

An effective enterprise project management program can either be an asset or a horrible deadweight, entirely based on how the program is managed and rolled out. Besides the textbook rules of project management, keep these four tips in focus to discover the road to successful projects and satisfied team members.

 

This article has been edited and condensed.

Simon Horton is the founder of ShopIntegrator.com, a Hosted Shopping Cart Store Add-In. His years of experience has helped him setting up this platform. Connect with @shopintegrator on Twitter.

 

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