How to Coordinate Assignments across Multiple Projects

By Stanley E. Portny

Working on overlapping tasks can place conflicting demands on a person, whether the tasks are on one project or several. Although successfully addressing these conflicts can be more difficult when more than one project manager is involved, the techniques for analyzing them are the same whether you’re the only project manager involved or you’re just one of many. You can use certain techniques and displays to resolve resource conflicts that arise from working on two or more projects at the same time.

In general, people on any of your project teams may also be assigned to other projects you’re managing or to other project managers’ projects. If summary person-loading charts are available for each project your people are assigned to, you can manage each person’s overall resource commitments by combining the information from the projects’ summary person-loading charts into an overall summary person-loading chart.

The chart below illustrates an overall summary person-loading chart that shows the commitments for each person on one or more of your project teams. This overall summary person-loading chart (titled “All Projects”) is derived from the summary person-loading charts for each of your team members’ projects.

person-loading chart
Using person-loading charts to plan your time on several projects.

This chart indicates that you’re currently scheduled to work on Projects A, B, and C in February for 40, 20, and 40 person-hours, respectively. Someone requests that you be assigned to work on Project D for 80 person-hours in February.

If you assume that you have a total of 160 person-hours available in February, you can devote 60 person-hours to Project D with no problem, because only 100 person-hours are currently committed. However, you don’t currently have available in February the other 20 person-hours the person is requesting. Therefore, you can consider doing one of the following:

  • Find someone to assume 20 person-hours of your commitments to Projects A, B, or C in February.
  • Shift your work on one or more of these projects from February to January or March.
  • Work overtime.