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What makes managing multiple projects so hard?

It’s hard enough to manage one project. But managing multiple projects brings a level of complexity that's hard to rein in. The thing is, most businesses – even solopreneurs – have to balance several projects at once to do their work.

So what makes juggling all those projects so challenging? There are endless ways that obstacles and blockers can show up in project management, but in our experience, most companies experience the same holdups. Here are the most common ways that we see organizations and teams struggling with wrangling their projects:

  1. Resource Constraints: Every project requires resources, so when you're managing multiple projects at once, it's easy to run into constraints on those resources. Whether its a tight budget, low team capacity, a quick deadline, or a need for equipment, teams of all sizes can struggle with allocating and managing resources effectively across projects. And if project needs aren't aggregated into an organized, rolled-up perspective, it's possible for projects to have competing priorities. Regardless of the how, one thing is clear: resource constraints can have serious impact on project execution and delivery.

  2. Lack of Visibility and Coordination: Visibility is one of the most common pain points we see from companies and teams trying to manage multiple projects at once. When we say visibility, we mean having a birds eye perspective on project needs and an organized way to access the detailed information of the project. If details and overall project health aren't easy to view and process, it can quickly become challenging to track progress, manage risks and issues, and synchronize expectations with the project realities. A key solution to this problem is to roll up project data into one centralized hub – at Echo, we like to use a CRAID log to get clients going in this direction.

  3. Complexity and Scale: This one might seem obvious, but it's important to address; managing multiple projects gets complicated. Each project involves a lot of moving parts, and making sure key stakeholders are getting the information they need for each project can feel daunting. The complexity can result in challenges in aligning project goals, managing dependencies, and coordinating activities across projects, making it harder to ensure smooth execution and timely delivery.

  4. Limited Project Management Maturity: We believe that companies of all sizes can manage their projects at a high level. But most of the time, the process of evolving to a mature PMO begins with the basics. One of the best recommendations we can give to any team or organization looking to streamline project workflow is to build in processes and tools that help automate and standardize your project pipeline. Without established project management processes, tools, and frameworks, companies may face difficulties in prioritizing projects, assigning responsibilities, and tracking progress, leading to project delays, scope creep, and quality issues.

  5. Conflicting Priorities and Decision-making: When managing multiple projects, conflicting priorities and decision-making can arise, especially when resources, budget, and timelines are limited. Companies may face challenges in making tough decisions on project priorities, resource allocation, and trade-offs, resulting in delays, scope changes, and compromised project outcomes.

  6. Change Management Challenges: Repeat after us: change happens. Every individual project is going to involve some change management, so building in processes for acknowledging and enacting changes is key to managing multiple projects at once. Change management challenges, including resistance to change, lack of communication, and inadequate change planning, can make it difficult to effectively manage projects and ensure smooth transitions.

  7. Project Dependencies and Risks: Projects may have dependencies on each other, and risks from one project can impact other projects. Managing and mitigating project dependencies and risks across several projects can be complex, requiring proactive risk management, contingency planning, and effective communication and coordination.

If any of these obstacles to managing multiple projects hit home with you, rest assured: you’re not alone! We’ve worked with clients of every size and across many industries, and we hear the same pain points over and over again.


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