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Tired of paperwork?
How can a business owner or a contractor organize multiple current and upcoming jobs?
Juggling between multiple projects is a problem that people genuinely have today. A small business owner on carpeting spoke up about finding it difficult to strike a balance between multiple jobs.
“I’ve always had a hard time predicting when these jobs will start,” the member who is a contractor for woodwork projects said in his post. “…I make it a point to stick on a job till we are done. But of course, each job has extras, so they usually run longer. So I end up constantly calling and pushing back clients. And since I don’t take deposits early, they can walk. I just don’t know how else to do this.”
He revealed he only has 2 full-time employees plus himself, making them only 3 workers in total on the job, and despite his willingness to take on more hands, it is difficult for him to find quality carpenters that are the right fit for the job.
Just like this contractor, a lot of business owners are struggling with the same issue and seeking out advice or suggestions that can help them efficiently manage numerous projects at the same time. In truth, to grow your business, you need to find ways to juggle more than one project at a time. Therefore, it is important to learn how to juggle projects, especially if - just like the woodwork contractor - you are the person in your business who has to split their time between business strategies, human resources, administrative, and fieldwork.
As complex as it can get to keep track of several projects, determine timeframes accurately, and even find the right assistance for the job, there is still hope.
Here’s how you can be successful when managing multiple projects at once.
Create a “Scale of Preference”
In economics, the term “scale of preference” denotes the importance that an individual places on certain needs and wants in terms of priority. Likewise, prioritization is also part of the process when creating a scale of preference with respect to your projects. What you should do is to create a serial listing of all your projects, both current and upcoming, in order of importance and the prospective value each project will bring to your business.
Not only will this give you a clear, documented idea of the list of things you have to do to accomplish the objectives set out by each project. Why you might ask?
In any big contract or even when working with a big recurring client, it is critical to capitalize on the relationship to retain the client and the business they bring in. As such, you certainly want to make room for those clients. Doing so may require you to pull the plug on smaller fish so that there is enough capacity dedicated to the big ones.
In the case that dropping a client or project is not an option then consider using the “scale of preference” model to sketch a path of the tasks that need to be completed first. In most cases, smaller jobs take less time to complete, especially if you have thoroughly honed your craft. This makes them the best places to start. Once the lower value workload is arranged, you can take your time with high-value projects.
Be careful with time management, employees can easily lose track of time and work on low-value projects for longer than necessary. Think of implementing a time tracking solution that will help you manage such cases.
The key here is to start with the very projects that take less time to complete, before giving your full attention to the longer and more valuable ones. The ultimate goal here is to render the best service possible to every one of your customers.
Standardize your processes
Honing your craft is crucial regardless of your trade as you strive to make your good better and your better best. However, improving the quality of your services will not be possible if all your doing is managing day-to-day work. Scale requires standardization and standardization requires dedication. For example, are you - as a manager or business owner - having to work on employee estimates? If you are managing a small business with a growing demand then the answer is most probably YES.
However, are you aware of the hours that you spend reading through those pesky timesheets trying to figure out what every employee has done throughout the day, week, or month? Most probably, NOT.
Where we are trying to get at is that standardizing as a process does not simply mean having employees follow strict rules and regulations. When standardizing processes, you need to measure the degree to which it saving time. If in the above case, you or somebody else is still running around and counting out timesheets then you have done the bare minimum standardizing.
Here is a hypothetical, imaging not having to run up to your employee asking for the timesheet. What if that timesheet gets delivered to you automatically on the 1st of every month? Wouldn’t that be great?
If you get to that point then you can say that the standardization of the process (i.e. timesheets) has been completed. Automation and standardization are best accomplished through digitalization. Modern time tracking solutions are proven mechanisms to help businesses save time, money, and stress. If you have never heard of timesheet automation, time tracking software, or location tracking services (mostly for field service businesses) then we recommend taking a look at Atto - a 7-day free trial is included.
Back to the original topic, by standardizing processes you aim for successive multitasking to accomplish successful multitasking. Organizing tasks when you know how long each task will take will help you prioritize and ensure the successful completion of all projects.
If budget allows, think of a good online task planner tool or project management software to amplify cost-savings and maximize profits.
Delegate and free yourself
Feeling like you have too much to do towards finalizing your projects? It is probably because you do. And delegating tasks to your subordinates is something you should give some serious thought to. You can delegate whole projects—if possible—or parts of them. The important thing is that you are only reviewing or following up on the work done by others.
Remember that oversight is important when you delegate. You must ensure the work is being done effectively and to the required standard in the end, but also make sure to do this in a way that is not overbearing and gives room for your subordinates to express their expertise and creativity.
The woodwork contractor - we mentioned in the beginning - stated in his post that he gets a steady stream of small jobs from his referrals, but he has little resources to keep up with those jobs. If you find that your business is short-staffed like in his case, you can put in a call to your local staffing agency. They will assess your specific needs and provide you with competent candidates that can fill in for however long the project requires. Alternatively, you can also hire professional freelance workers and get a single person or even a team that can take some of the burden off your shoulders.
Manage others’ expectations
Excellent communication is key whilst juggling multiple projects. Giving your clients sufficient notice of how the job they have hired you for is progressing is a good practice towards having happy and well-satisfied customers. There will be times when you cannot get everything done for everyone. Let your customers know when you are available and when you plan to have the job completed.
If, for any reason, you cannot keep those commitments, inform the people affected immediately, and to avoid total disaster, give them a revised estimate of when you will be able to finish their work. Provide evidence of the work completed, and communicate the problems that have arisen, and how they emerged. The client needs to understand and believe that the delay was not caused by your incompetence rather it was because of unexpected or uncontrollable circumstances.
This is how you manage others’ expectations, and you’d be surprised to find that a lot of people will not have a problem giving you some more time so you can deliver your best work to them. Planning intelligently also means communicating, so never neglect communication with your clients.
Having to juggle a few projects all at once can definitely be a difficult and tiresome task. But with the above-mentioned tips you will be successfully juggling multiple projects in no time. This way, you will become more organized and efficient, without losing the quality of your work. Your current clients will be more satisfied and future clients will be at your door in no time.