Planning and Managing Multiple Small Projects


Quick Summary
A compendium of techniques for managing a group of small related projects.


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What this is

This guideline is a compendium of techniques for planning and managing a group of small projects. It provides explanations and file formats for consolidating information from multiple small projects in common project documents and using those documents to efficiently plan and track the projects.


Why it's useful

To avoid creating a full set of individual deliverables for each project, when much of the information may be common to the group of projects. For instance, suppose that a group is executing 10 small projects for a particular client; or 10 small feature enhancement projects related to a particular product. Much of the information related to those projects might be similar: the team members and their roles, communication mechanisms, recipients of status reports etc. Rather than create all your standard project documents for each and every small project, the team may well be able to create one document of each type that covers all the projects. Such consolidation can therefore reduce the amount of project documentation work, and make planning, tracking, reporting, and distribution of information much more efficient.

The techniques in this guideline therefore show typical ways to consolidate information from multiple small projects in common project documents, such as project plans, communication plans, milestone lists, action item lists, etc.


How to use it

First, understand how your projects are related:

  • Are they making changes to the same product or software, such as a set of feature enhancements? Do the projects therefore need to "sync up" at some point- for example, at some point the software needs to be tested with all the feature enhancements included. In this case, you really have a program of inter-related projects.
  • Or, are your projects relatively un-related, in that they don't require specific synchronization between the project timelines, but they're related in another way. For example, they are a set of projects all for the same client.

In either case the projects can be planned, managed, and documented in a consolidated fashion. For the first case, this file will point to some other applicable resources on the ProjectConnections site.

Then, use one or more of the techniques in this file to plan and manage your projects. Techniques covered include:

  • Create a project list with priorities and assignments. Used for planning especially of resource assignments; and can also be used for communicating progress.
  • Create a consolidated version of key planning documents: For example, the communication plan, milestones list, action item list, iterative feature development list.
  • Create a consolidated schedule file. For instance, in Microsoft Project, all the projects can be included in one file, or each project can be created as a subproject file opened up together in a master project file. If the small projects are running in parallel and sharing team members, this makes it easier to see and correct resource overloads. And a consolidated status report can be generated out of the single project schedule file.
  • Create a consolidated status report format to allow easy reporting on all projects.
  • Create a small project deliverables "cheat sheet" to show what minimum deliverables a small-project team should do. When an organization has a documented project management process or development methodology that applies to large projects, teams on smaller projects often have trouble understanding which deliverables are necessary.

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