These are three tips to help you manage project overload
Every project manager has experienced times when one activity or project consumes all or most our time. It’s part and parcel of the PM way, Ai. It can be overwhelming to manage all of the other projects taking up our energy, time, resources, and effort. This includes managing other important projects, leading team members, and engaging customers that rely on us for direction and leadership. It would be wonderful if we could only focus on one project at a time that requires 110% our attention. This is impossible. Or we run the risk of failing at any one of the projects we have.
What can we do when a large project has so many issues that requires our full attention?
Depending on the situation and the overall status of the project, I usually use one of these steps.
1. Designate someone to be the point person for troubled projects.
It is better to let go of the problem project and to then assign a trusted resource from the current team to take over it for a few months while you focus on other projects to get them up-to-speed with customers. It is not a good idea for the project to be offloaded, even if it has very serious issues. This could send a negative message about the customer to offload the project. You could lose ground on the project if the project management is left to non-PMs who are only trying to solve current problems. In this situation, the next option is better.
2. For projects in good standing, assign temporary leaders.
This is the most likely decision, and it’s the one that I use most often when faced this type of situation. It is a good idea for each member of the project team to meet to discuss the best approach. To plan the temporary transfer of responsibilities, you might consider using mind mapping software. Next, take action and delegate weekly PM oversight duties for another member of your project team. It is often the business analyst. As much involvement as possible is necessary to ensure that the project’s day to day management takes place. Designating someone to be your primary contact for PM and point person for the next few week will allow you to focus on the most important issues facing the project. This will help you get out of the current valley.
3. For troubled projects, temporary outside assistance is available.
This is my least favorite, as it is very expensive. This can bring in a new person to the project, which can send a message about how things are not so bad. Anything that causes anxiety or unrest in customers is bad. This is the best thing to do if you don’t have other options. To request a temporary or additional PM, you can contact the senior leadership or director of the PMO (whichever is most appropriate for your organization). If the issues are so serious that you require a different position, such as a business analyst or technical lead, you should consider that resource. They will drain your project quickly, so don’t keep them around for too long.