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It’s an easy trap to fall into. We all want to do more, make more, provide more for our clients, and show more to our bosses. But at some point, more very quickly becomes less, especially in terms of project management.

There’s a good chance that at some point (or maybe every point) of your project management career, your project portfolio was bigger than you could keep up with. To help you overcome this all too common enterprise project and portfolio management pitfall, we put together this guide to managing work-in-progress overload.

How to Deal with a Bloated Project Portfolio

Step 1: Recognize the problem.

If you or your team members have ever wished for more hours in the day, there’s a good chance you have an enterprise project and portfolio management issue. The solution to a project overload problem should never be “work more hours.” If that’s how your team is operating, there’s a big problem.

Another surefire sign of project portfolio overload is animosity between the project management team and clients. When project managers are overloaded, they’re less likely to deliver as quickly and effectively, which frustrates clients and turns them into micro-managers. An upset client is just one more distraction in your project managers’ already overloaded schedule.

Step 2: Organize projects by size, not priority.

While general intuition says to organize projects by priority, when your portfolio is overflowing and clients are asking questions, everything becomes high-priority. One of the best ways to relieve this tension is by attacking the smallest projects first. This will allow you to move parts faster and help mitigate the often debilitating feeling of being overwhelmed or “in the weeds.”

Step 3: Communicate.

One of the biggest reasons project managers become overloaded in the first place is because they keep saying “Yes” –– to clients, bosses, stakeholders, etc.

If you’re a project manager or lead a team of project managers, you need to embrace the power of open, honest dialogue. It’s especially important to communicate when you’re at a tipping point. This may spur a new hire that can take work off your plate and pave the way to more growth for the company.

Communication is also critical with clients when you’re in a state of overload. If deliverables are coming late, make sure the client knows well in advance. It can help to stand by the “under-promise, over-deliver” philosophy.

Step 4: Take a look at your processes.

If all the project managers across your business are experiencing project portfolio issues, then there may be a few bottlenecks in your processes. Is your sales team overselling? Is your hiring team not bringing on new people fast enough? Is your project management team prioritizing poorly?

Establishing KPIs for everything that could be creating enterprise project and portfolio management overflow will help you identify what is causing the problem, so you can overcome it.

Step 5: Embrace a quality-over-quantity mindset.

A company culture that is founded on quantity over quality can be very toxic. It’s a surefire way to guarantee employees are overworked, client turnover is high, and overall morale surrounding the business is low. Company culture begins at the top, so if you’re leading a project management team, it’s up to you to establish a quality-driven mindset.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

Don’t let poor portfolio management cost you employees, clients, or the success of your business. An effective project management solution like Clarizen can help you streamline your company’s processes so you can avoid these common pitfalls. If you’re interested in developing a more effective project management structure across your company, Clarizen can help you create scalable project plans and keep your team on track. Get in touch for a live demo of our cloud-based software.


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