Project Management

8 Tips for Handling Multiple Client Projects Effectively

Mindaugas Gluchovskis ·

2019 - Present Marketing specialist Innovative content marketeer with MSc in International Communication, Mindaugas brings fresh ideas and inspiration about project management and beyond.

managing multiple client projects

A whopping 59% of project managers manage at least two to five projects and sometimes go beyond managing six to 10 projects as per research conducted by Elizabeth Harrin, a renowned project manager and author of several project management books.  

Ask yourself, how many active projects are you handling currently? Having to manage multiple projects at once often leads you to be stressed and at times results in burnout. As Colin Bentley said, “Why do so many professionals say they are project managing when what they are actually doing is fire fighting?”

Being a project manager means you’re always putting out fires to keep everything on track. When you’re managing multiple projects, you have to deal with conflicting deadlines, different tasks, and tracking multiple clients, resources, budgets, and schedules.

All of this requires considerable effort, smart planning, and effective methods to keep your ball rolling. In this article, you’ll find valuable tips for handling clients efficiently and learn about different tools and techniques to manage multiple projects simultaneously.

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1. Plan well in advance for multiple client projects

As per the research done by Elizabeth, planning ranked among one of the top skills for handling multiple projects and clients.

Just like you plan for one project, you must plan well in advance for managing multiple projects. The last thing you’d want to do is begin your week unprepared to try and figure out as you go. Plan your week as per the tasks, and decide on the most important ones as per deadlines and deliverables for each client. 

Meet with your team and stakeholders to make sure everyone’s on the same page as you. It’ll likely change day-to-day, but at least you have a structure.

For example, if there is an important deployment scheduled in the coming week, determine the tasks and resources needed and if everything is on track for the deployment. If not, then will the team require additional time, and how do you communicate that to the client? All of these details will need to be put down in your plan in collaboration with your team.

Every project has its fair share of risks and challenges, and you must address them to ensure they do not affect the quality of deliverables or the project timelines. However, the risk multiplies in the case of multiple projects as they can have a tumbling effect.

Hence, it is imperative to make a plan and create provisions for such risks and contingencies well in advance. You must maintain a healthy buffer in defining the project’s scope and timelines to prepare a contingency plan for every project.

Preparing yourself as well as the team at such a level prevents small risks or contingencies from snowballing into bigger problems.

2. Get a bird’s eye view of the client projects

Another important trick to effectively manage multiple projects involves consolidating all into a single, comprehensive view. For example, having a centralized overview of all your deadlines, milestones, and task due dates proves invaluable in shaping your daily or weekly work plan.

While managing one or two projects might be feasible with separate spreadsheets for different project plans, it becomes impractical when tracking multiple clients. The inefficiency of switching between different records not only consumes time but also compromises focus, increasing the likelihood of overlooking critical details.

Kanban board
Kanban view

To enhance project management efficiency, seek a project management platform that allows you to get a birds-eye view of all projects in one place. Ideally, this tool should facilitate seamless toggling between a panoramic view of your workload and the intricate details of individual projects. 

It should be able to provide clarity of multiple projects’ status, and dependencies for complete transparency on your projects. Having a birds-eye view simplifies managing multiple projects and helps identify and address potential issues like resource conflicts or missed milestones before they escalate.

3. Utilize your project management tool

As humans, we tend to forget and err when multitasking or managing multiple projects. But if it happens frequently, it is wise to embrace technology and use it at your disposal to streamline your projects.

A recent study on project management stated that approximately 77% of high-performing teams rely on using project management platforms.You might consider using free tools to manage multiple clients, but choosing a proper project management platform will allow you to fully utilize its features and functionalities. The platform will help keep everything organized, consolidate your work in one place, and distinguish between various projects and the different phases.

The tool will help you create multiple project planning sheets, help assign the correct tasks within reasonable deadlines for your team, and ensure complete visibility on all your projects.

multiple board timelines
Teamhood timeline view

If you are already exploring options for the right project management platform for your team, consider checking out Teamhood.

Our tool provides flexibility in planning, offering features from Kanban to Gantt chart online, allowing a clear overview of multiple projects simultaneously. The platform enables you to give proper reporting for informed decision-making, including advanced Kanban boards for task tracking, workload monitoring, and effective management of multiple clients at one go.

4. Prioritize projects based on various factors

“The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven’t made up their minds.”

Casey Stengel

The quote above likely brought a smile to your face because it holds true, especially when dealing with requirements from multiple clients. Effectively managing multiple projects involves prioritizing them based on factors such as the overall project cost, client profile, project scope and complexity, and delivery timeline. 

Not all the projects will hold equal importance.

Certain projects will contribute more to your business, be it in financial terms, strategic alignment, or client satisfaction. It becomes impractical to distribute your time evenly among all your projects. Prioritizing is essential, focusing on projects based on the impact they bring.

Now, the question arises: how do you effectively prioritize multiple projects? Evaluating each project against the following criteria is highly recommended:

●       Higher financial value – The bigger the bottom-line benefit, the higher the priority

●       Better strategic fit – The better a project aligns with your strategic direction, the higher the priority.

●       Risk of delayed deliveries – The bigger the risk of delayed or not delivering (eg tough client, defaulting on payment or affecting your reputation), the higher the priority.

Once you’ve assigned a priority level, consider using a traffic light system in your project management approach to mark projects of high importance. Another way is to label your projects with tags and organize them based on priority.

This makes it easier to decide which tasks should come first and gives a clear structure to accept or reject any ad-hoc work.

portfolio overview
Teamhood portfolio overview

Consider informal methods like consulting seniors for project priorities, relying on their professional judgment. Trust your ability to determine priorities by understanding each project’s contribution towards the company’s progress.

5. Prioritize tasks as urgent vs important

“Time is the scarcest resource and, unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Peter Drucker

When managing multiple clients at hand, you have to get a multitude of tasks done in a day. It becomes crucial to recognize what can be accomplished in a given day and time. Maintaining a daily to-do list is essential, but differentiating those tasks through the urgent vs. important matrix will help you in the long run.

The urgent vs. important matrix, also known as the Eisenhower matrix, holds a prominent position, with 42% of project managers acknowledging its usefulness in considering task urgency and importance.

The matrix comprises four quadrants, each labelled as follows:

  1. [2] Urgent and important (tasks that require immediate attention)
  2. Important but not urgent (tasks that are important but can be scheduled for later)
  3. Urgent but not important (tasks that are time-sensitive but do not contribute to long-term goals)
  4. Not urgent and not important (tasks that can be eliminated or delegated)

To effectively use the Eisenhower matrix, start by compiling a comprehensive list of all tasks that need to be completed in a day. Subsequently, categorize each task into the relevant quadrant based on its urgency and importance.

Tasks in quadrant 1 demand the highest priority and immediate attention, such as the submission of any project-related deliverables to your clients. Those in quadrant 2 should be scheduled for a specific future time, like updating project plans with revised timelines. Tasks in quadrant 3 are suitable for delegation or outsourcing, such as picking up any ad-hoc requests leading to delay in your deliverable.

Lastly, tasks in quadrant 4 should either be eliminated or postponed, such as checking non-work-related emails or scrolling through social media.

By utilizing the Eisenhower matrix, you can concentrate on tasks that are both crucial and time-sensitive, ensuring you don’t overlook essential but non-urgent responsibilities. This approach enhances productivity, enabling you to manage clients and projects efficiently.

Pareto’s 80/20 principle for handling clients efficiently

Another valuable technique for prioritizing tasks is the Pareto 80/20 principle, which is regarded by project managers who consider working on tasks that drive significant results. According to this principle, for several outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.

In practical terms, focus on completing the crucial 20% of tasks from your list, which will yield 80% of the daily impact. To implement this, compile your daily tasks, pinpoint those with the highest impact, and assess factors like collaboration with teammates or tasks critical to project progression. These tasks may be simple in execution but will have a larger impact on the overall project.

6. Adequately plan your resources

Resource planning for multiple projects resembles solving a crossword puzzle; put one piece (your resource), in the wrong place and it will not match, eliminate it, and the puzzle remains incomplete. Yet, learning how to manage multiple projects with fewer resources is the new normal for businesses in 2024, a post-pandemic world where we aim to achieve more with limited resources. 

Effective resource planning involves assessing whether you have the number of resources required to work on a particular project and if they are available to work on a project.

For example, if a particular project requires two developers but you only have one available, then how do you fill the gap of another one? And, if you go ahead with just one resource, then will he/she be able to cover the workload of two people in a team?

timeline view
Workload tracker in Teamhood

A clear understanding of resource availability and workload will help you set realistic expectations regarding project timelines and delivery. Hence, consolidating project and resource data in one place allows you to analyze capacity and identify who is available, fully occupied, or at risk of burnout at any given time.

Opting for a resource planning tool is a smart move when managing multiple projects. A tool tailored to your project needs minimizes human error, enhances collaboration, saves time, and provides a better understanding of the resources allocated for your project’s success.

7. Transparent communication with the stakeholders

When you are in a position to manage multiple projects and clients means they have entrusted you and your team. To maintain trust and credibility, communication and transparency are the key. If you are going to run around the bush for longer, it can lead them to look elsewhere.

Regularly update stakeholders with status emails, outlining project progress, challenges, and dependencies. This keeps everyone on the same page and strengthens the relationship. Clear communication about each and everything related to your projects will build confidence in your ability to handle them effectively.

kanban overview
Kanban view on Teamhood

Additionally, be transparent with your internal team members, and communicate about updates, deliverable timelines, and expectations. This ensures a smooth workflow and successful project execution. Clear communication within your team not only helps in project management but also aids in handling multiple clients efficiently.

8. Set reasonable deadlines for your client projects

One common mistake project managers often make when handling multiple clients is agreeing to everything just to secure the client. However, it’s essential to realize that it’s not always feasible. Therefore, setting realistic deadlines for project tasks is crucial, taking into account the time each task requires.

If you need to prioritize quality delivery over tight deadlines, then you must choose the former to reduce unnecessary stress on the team and yourself.

timeline view

Be transparent with your client about the time required for each task and establish deadlines accordingly.

Include buffer time for unforeseen situations that may cause delays. This way, you can create a backup plan (plan B) if things don’t go as planned. You can also use the time-blocking method for your team to complete specific tasks within dedicated hours or days efficiently. Consider your team’s capacity and expertise in specific tasks and provide support as needed to ensure successful task completion.

Your success as a project manager, whether working independently or within a company, depends on how efficiently you handle multiple projects and clients. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and reacting as things happen, be a bit more proactive and use smart methods and technology tools to remain ahead of the curve.

Do you see yourself juggling multiple projects? Look no further than Teamhood, a professional project management tool built for managing client projects.

Start managing your client projects effectively

Automate repetative tasks and focus on the real work

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