I provided some links about multi-tasking in a previous post. I’ve worked in project management and planning for nearly 10 years now. Just about every project in this time has relied on multi-tasking as a way of doing business. If evidence supports that pitfalls of multi-tasking, why is it done so often?
I think the main reason is the illusion of progress. The perception is that the more parts of a project that are underway, that more of the project is getting done faster.
I believe multi-tasking has its place and could lead to faster results–if executed properly. If one project resource attempts to tackle many task simultaneously—this is bad and will likely cause delays for all the tasks. The “trick” is to have a cross-functional team and multiple resources. Tasks should be assigned by function. Multiple functions can do multiple projectÂ tasks at the same time. Maybe this interpretation does not fit the multi-tasking definition. The caveat remains, though, that each function should only tackle one task at a time.
This suggested parallelism could work very well for all project resources–all except the project manager. But maybe that’s okay. The life of a project manager should be somewhat hectic, right? Beware: it will be easy to overload the project manager and force multi-tasking by this resource. An ineffective project manager does not bode well for project progress either!
Another “trick” could be to split the project into several mini-projects and to use outsourcing to help manage this smaller efforts. But again, the overall project manager needs to be ready to handle a new set of challenges with this type of arrangement.