Projects are the lifeblood for any growing organizations. As organizations grow bigger, they will need to handle multiple projects at a time or a portfolio of Projects. Faster project delivery can have a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line and help them gain serious competitive advantage. Multi-project management is particularly pertinent to engineering, complex manufacturing, Infrastructure and EPC companies, which do projects for their living. Managing the delivery of multiple projects which are running in parallel or in tandem can turn out to be a nightmare for organizations if they are not equipped with the right multi-project management delivery system/ software.
If even managing single projects was easier
So, what makes multi-project delivery so challenging? We all know the challenges associated with single projects. They are highly dynamic and involve a lot of uncertainties during the project execution. Projects are marred with uncertainties like scope changes, supply delay from vendors, delay in inputs from engineering, shortage of resources and materials, reworks and so on. In addition, involvement of numerous stakeholders working from multiple locations throws collaboration challenges. Multiply these uncertainties and challenges for a multi-project environment and you have a feat to achieve.
Additional difficulties which comes in multi-project delivery
In multi-project scenarios, individual projects are constantly vying for shared resources. Managing shared resources and aligning different functions between an organization and external partners towards a common goal, i.e. ensuring each project meets its due date comes with many challenges.
- Resource Levelling – Levelling multiple resources across multiple projects across the timeline is an exceedingly difficult problem to solve
- Delays cascade across projects – Now when you have multiple projects being managed in tandem, the uncertainties of one project starting to affect other projects. For instance, if for some reason a resource is stuck on a project the other subsequent projects waiting for that resource to start will start getting delayed.
- Continual re-planning – A change in plan in one project will change the resource management plan across projects. That means plans must be continually changed for not only a single project but adjustments in plans have to be done across projects.
- Constant resource conflicts in execution – Continual adjustments in plan means the project managers on individual projects are constantly contesting for the resources to get their project delivered on-time. This also leads to managers overstating the resource needs and start hoarding resources at their end.
Challenges with Schedule Management
A study published in the Harvard Business Review states that one in every six projects costs more than 200 percent of the estimated amount and almost 70 percent of IT projects face project delays. It is the job of project managers to prevent that but in doing so they face a lot of challenges.
The major issue with schedule management in projects is that it gets too difficult, because each project brings its own dynamicity to the table. The complexity expands when you have to share resources across various projects. Today, there’s no room for the traditional combination of static plans and schedules to work.
The types of scheduling problems companies are expected to face can vary, but some of them appear more frequently. A clear vision isn’t enough to complete a project. You also need properly defined requirements and outcomes. Sometimes, project managers have their reason for avoiding this strategy. However, specific requirements are necessary because without them, it’s difficult to manage scheduling.
Nothing is harder than creating and maintaining a fair, flexible, and functional schedule that keeps everyone satisfied. Usually, managers find themselves buried under heaps of calendars, timetables, and spreadsheets due to the same reason. Developing a good schedule is time-consuming – it can take days or even weeks to build one. Therefore, if a scheduling problem occurs, it can be extremely tough as managers are required to find the magic bullet that could cover the gaps at the last minute.
More importantly, the impact of schedule on the cost cannot be understated, which often turns out to be tough to handle.
Industry-specific conundrums can also emerge. For example, since manufacturing projects are related to both downstream and upstream pressures, scheduling issues can be detrimental to activities in both directions. You may have to revise materials procurement and storage practices to meet the new project changes that are going to be incorporated in the entire process. There can be a need to revisit the handling and transportation workflows for outgoing products too, causing timing concerns when delays happen at any phase of the logistics infrastructure. Any of these problems could go on to inflict considerable unbudgeted financial outlays, which cannot only affect the organization’s market position, but also hampers its capability to meet customer orders.
How to Address This Dilemma?
Traditional project management solutions were effective at one point, but they are well past their prime. Thus, you need to embrace a modern solution. In this modern age, there’s a need for a GPS-type system – one that can track the status and performance of projects. Such a smart project delivery would help you with the following:
- It rolls out smart the most effective course of actions, such as what tasks to work on next and where to assign resources.
- Informs the management about the list projects that are going to be late.
- Recommends alternative pathways to meet the project deadline.
- Introduces a metering process – describing the ideal workload at a time as well as indicating the right timing to release new projects into execution.
- Analyzes the data points and creates automatic schedules.
- Keep all the stakeholders aligned via a unified platform.
- Minimize idle time and the resources spent in optimizing schedules.
The use of a GPS-based system isn’t merely about getting visibility into real-time insights, it optimizes project delivery with smart algorithms.
Want to see first-hand how such a SMART Multi-Project Delivery System transforms project management? Here’s a case study to review.
Image Credits: Octavian Dan