Running any big project takes time, organisation, planning, communication and a whole host of other skills. Thus it is hard work running one large scale project, but running too many at the same time can often be a recipe for disaster.
Although projects can be undertaken with relative ease, in terms of the software and applications that are now available to assist with project management, it is still stretching capacity to undertake too many projects at the same time. Simply because of the complexity of project management, complexity of resource management and sheer breadth of business change required (coupled with the organizations ability to accept change).
Juggling Balls In The Air
Often project management is described as being the equivalent of juggling several balls in the air and ensuring that they do not crash to the ground in spectacular fashion.
However, the fundamental rule, when involved in project management or juggling is that you don’t take your eye off the ball, or else you can almost guarantee that it will crash.
This is simply down to logistics. If you have several projects that are running simultaneously then you are not able to devote time to each project, because each day is finite and you only have a specific amount of time to devote to each project.
If you spend most of a working week dealing with Project A, with a little time spent on Project B, but you ‘take your eye off the ball’ and ignore Project C for a few days, then you can almost guarantee that something will go awry in Project C. But you may think, Project C is ‘rectifiable’ in the sense that I can sort out Project C, then come back to Project A. Fine, but in the meantime, poor old Project B comes unstuck, simply because you were not around to deal with minor problems, which then escalated into huge problems, whilst you dealt with A and C. So it just doesn’t work.
Each project requires and needs attention and nurturing, so that whatever happens there is a firm and steady hand at the wheel, as opposed to someone who may be available later on in the week.
Planning and Problems
Project managers often feel as if they fire fight nearly all the time. Even the best laid plans can go adrift and in project management if something can go wrong then it will go wrong and when things go wrong, as demonstrated above, you have to be there to sort them out. Projects cannot ‘wait’ for a response, issues often have to be dealt with immediately and you simply cannot be in several different places (or replying to 7 different emails) all at the same time.
Planning any project properly will ensure that there are fewer risks of things going terribly wrong, but there will always be unforeseen within any project. Key personnel can go off sick, suppliers may go into liquidation, raw materials may suddenly become much more expensive, even inclement weather can hold up projects due to flights being delayed, goods not being transported or components not being shipped.
So anyone who thinks that planning will totally alleviate any problems throughout the whole life of a project is wrong; project management is about sorting things out when they do go wrong and ensuring that contingency plans are in place, but problems still do arise.
Projects are high maintenance and they seek constant attention, with larger scale projects being especially demanding, which is why running too many large projects at the same time is a real recipe for failure and disaster, so it really isn’t worth running the risk. Manage one or maybe 2 projects well, but don’t run several at any one time!