How to Manage Multiple Projects — Ultimate Workflow Hub
Managing multiple projects across different teams is tough. To make the task even more challenging, poor project management can often result in a huge loss for the business. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place that works for managing various projects. Effective project management drives company growth and encourages people to deliver outstanding results.
Whether you're at the beginning of your project management journey or are already juggling a myriad of tasks, we’ve got tips for you!
Here you will learn:
- Best practices for managing multiple projects
- Tips & tricks to automate your work
- Best tools for project management
What is project management?
Project management is about planning, organizing, and streamlining a particular task (project) delivery process in a given timeframe. Project managers are responsible for task decomposition, time estimation, assigning people to tasks, controlling the delivery process, and solving for hiccups along the way.
In short, project management is about making things happen at the right time and ensuring high team productivity.
And yes, we think project managers are superheroes! 🦸♂️
Why is project management important?
Project management is the engine of your business that determines how fast you move. It involves people management, setting the right objectives, seeing the big picture, and aligning all three of these things.
Excellent project management allows your team to:
Get more done in less time
With proper planning, you can estimate the exact number of hours to get the job done. Once you know the timing, you will get an idea of how many people you need to involve as well as any extra costs necessary for automating relevant parts of the process.
As a result, you will find the most efficient way to get more done in less time.
Project management isn't just about organizing tasks and motivating people to ensure high productivity. It is also about locating friction points and bottlenecks in current workflows and addressing them before they become problems.
That saves a company a lot of time and money.
Communicate better with stakeholders and within teams
Communicating all the hows and whys beyond the project in full transparency takes internal communication to the next level. With project management tools, everyone can access projects at any time to get updates and ensure that things are going well.
Easy access to updates eliminates unnecessary meetings and micromanagement.
In turn, when things aren’t going well, you know when it’s time to get teams together, investigate what is causing the problem, and devise a solution.
Being visible and transparent also empowers accountability and every team member feels their contribution to the company’s goals.
Make informed decisions
Whenever a project is about to go off track, you can instantly notice this trend and investigate the reasons.
Whether you've mistaken time estimation or haven't accounted for the influence of external factors, with solid project management you can quickly pinpoint the problem and fix it.
Project management helps you zoom in and out of the process and spot negative and positive tendencies. For instance, you can notice that your team performs tasks X and Z faster than Y. Digging deeper, you may find a common "successful" pattern you can replicate for task Y.
Now that you know how vital good project management is for business let's see how you can effectively juggle multiple projects.
How to manage multiple projects in 6 easy steps
Managing one project with a lot of subtasks can be painful. But when you need to keep an eye on 3, 5, or 10 projects all at once, it can be excruciating.
But we believe in you! There are ways to manage multiple projects effectively and keep the team on track.
Let’s learn how.
Outline high-level goals
Sometimes stakeholders, execs, or VPs can approach you with tasks like, "We need to launch a PR campaign for the product X next month. Get everything ready." Although the task may seem logical, without understanding and agreeing on the purpose, the project can quickly go off the rails.
Let's say you see the purpose as boosting awareness about the product and, therefore, gaining prospects. Is that what your execs see as the purpose? You never know unless you specify. (Spoiler alert: it's wrong. Keep reading👇).
Every time you get a new project, make an informed effort to understand what's involved before beginning. Ask stakeholders why this project is essential, what they want to achieve, how this will influence the company's growth in the long run, etc.
Once you get answers, you now have essential information that will inform further actions.
For example, you may discover that the prime goal of your new project (a PR campaign launch) is to lay the foundation for the next big move (aka an extensive PR campaign). Knowing this will enable you to document every step of the PR campaign and prepare templates beforehand.
Bottom line: high-level goals affect project management decisions and the overall process. Outline and agree on them with key stakeholders before kicking off a project.
Create a project
Once you understand the company's high-level goal, map out the key steps to complete the project and pick the right toolkit for project management.
1. Outline all the subtasks required to complete the project
Projects consist of small tasks (subtasks). This step aims to outline every subtask to understand what resources you need to secure to accomplish the project successfully. This process is called decomposition.
Decomposition refers to breaking down a complex, laborious task/project into small, easy-to-achieve subtasks. It helps project managers estimate project delivery dates and workload more accurately.
Here's how to perform project decomposition:
- Start with your primary goal (i.e. launch a PR campaign).
- Determine the significant tasks/directions required to launch that campaign (e.g., creating visuals, content, communication with journalists, etc.).
- Break down each big task into smaller steps. For example, collect relevant media outlets and journalists' contacts and prepare a pitch.
- Discuss the time it will take to complete each step with a specialist assigned to the tasks.
- Set up deadlines.
- Choose a project management toolkit.
With project management tools, you can streamline your project management process at every stage — from decomposition to project delivery.
You might want to start with mind mapping tools like MindMeister, Miro, or Xmind. They are best for decomposition and understanding the critical elements of project management. Important things to keep in mind include:
- What type of project you need to create (e.g., deadline-driven or ongoing processes)
- How many people need to be assigned
- What additional resources you need
- How you can visualize the project, keep a bird's eye on every step involved, etc.
In a nutshell, mind mapping tools are like paper notebooks for brainstorming and organizing the initial steps of a project. You can share access to the dashboard and work on the initial phase together with your team.
2. Choose your project management tool
Once you’ve answered the questions above, pick a project management tool. There are dozens of solutions on the market, so consider the following when choosing a platform to use:
- What workflow views do they offer?
- Can you create templates?
- Can you build projects with different nesting levels?
- Do you like the progress tracking feature and reporting?
- Can you access the necessary information in one click to understand whether the project is on track?
- What integrations are available?
- Can you set up rules to automate workflows (e.g., repeated tasks, set blockers, etc.)?
For instance, if we were to choose a project management tool for a PR campaign, we’d opt for Asana. It has a list view (block view) of tasks making it easier to track the progress of complex projects.
The list view would also work great for onboarding (check out the example below).
Now, let’s imagine you’ve created a project in Asana and are ready for the next step.
Define project milestones or epics
Project milestones are small but critical intermediate goals (aka key phases) that you want to show your stakeholders during a long, complex project. They indicate how far the project has progressed. Think of it as small wins toward a big goal.
In turn, epics are major independent parts of ongoing projects that must be kept under control.
For example, you can use the epic system when working on your blog. Each epic represents a blog's category (topic). You must create topics and briefs upfront to deliver new blogs on schedule. Hence, you will populate each epic (category) with blog topics and assign different authors to be in charge of each epic.
The same system can be applied in product development.
This way, you can monitor the progress of multiple smaller projects within a big one (the progress within each epic).
This is the last step of project decomposition. This is where you define and create tasks and subtasks to run the project smoothly.
For each task it’s important to:
- Add a comprehensive description.
- Set due dates.
- Assign responsible teammates.
- Nest task/subtasks under the right project.
- Determine the definition of done (DOD) for every task to clarify responsibilities and set the right expectations for assignees.
- Add custom fields to provide or collect additional information. For instance, you can add time boxes so that the assignee estimates their time to deliver the task and specifies the actual time the task took.
- Define the priority (this is crucial!).
When reviewing your tasks, ensure they communicate the objective and are easy to understand.
More detailed tasks are easier and faster to accomplish.
Organize your projects
At this point, you will want to organize and create a format for visualizing projects to make them easier to access and monitor progress.
For example, you can group tasks by sections and display due dates, assignees, progress, custom fields, etc.
Alternatively, you can opt for the Timeline view. It's easier for some people to track the project's progress and spot hiccups when they see the progress bar of all tasks in one place.
Document your journey
Every project consists of various steps. Some of them are repetitive. And some you will need to explain to newcomers. In the end, you may end up repeating and duplicating the same work (there’s nothing fun about this…).
But there is a way to save time by leveraging SOPs (standard operating procedures) and templates.
SOPs help you establish basic rules for how projects work and they are great for onboarding newcomers.
Tango can help you automatically create and share step-by-step tutorials and SOPs that will improve your project management process.
Once you implement these 7 steps, you will see how easy it is to manage multiple projects simultaneously. Each step ensures you’re building a transparent, easy-to-track, and agile system.
The final task is to find the best project management tools you can use to run multiple projects effectively. And we’ve got you covered there too!
4 best tools for project management
There are dozens of project management tools on the market, each with pros and cons. Although they all aim to facilitate project management, different tools can be better for different use cases. Some tools are better for product development teams. Some fit marketing and customer success teams.
Here we’ve put together a list of 4 versatile project management tools that should work for any team in your company.
If you were to ask someone to name popular project management tools, you’d likely hear Asana first on the list. Asana is used by companies of all sizes, including big names like Amazon, Google, Spotify, PayPal, and more.
Why do people love Asana?
- It's super agile. You can build workflows for developers, remote teams, marketing, and CS teams. It works for teams of all sizes, whether it’s an enterprise or team of one.
- It has 200+ integrations that allow you to create outstanding reports and stay on top of everything that's going on.
- You can build projects with different nesting levels and display the progress of each.
- Various features for workflow views — Board, Calendar, Timeline, and List.
- The ability to control your team workload.
- Set up rules to automate your workflows
Asana is a versatile tool for making any team and any project efficient.
It has both free and paid plans. A free plan is best for teams of up to 15 people. Paid plans start at 16 people and $13.49 per user per month when billed monthly (~$216 for 16 people per month.).
Like Asana, Monday has hundreds of integrations, project spaces for different teams, and big-name companies on board. And it’s super agile.
The main differences come from the interface design (which seems more minimalistic) and pricing. You can buy Monday for $10.50 per seat (or ~$8.30) if billed annually , which is slightly cheaper.
Unlike Asana, Monday has tools for inventory tracking and sales CRM.
Think of Airtable as a mix of advanced Google Spreadsheets and classic project management software.
With Airtable, you can track the financial side of your business, create SOPs, manage any team across the company, and combine performance metrics of all teams in one dashboard.
- Grid view. For sorting and grouping your tasks by any criteria.
- Gallery view. Display your data with imagery for visual recognition.
- Content operation system. For mastering the content pipeline, creating an editorial calendar, and generating reports and status readouts.
Airtable offers a free plan for up to 5 seats. Paid plans with advanced features start at $12 per seat (billed monthly).
When projects are organized and transparent, it’s easier to detect and fix issues, manage multiple projects, and deliver results on time and at scale. Implementing these tips will help keep your projects on track and deliver better results for your business.