The Ultimate Guide to Manage Ad-Hoc Projects
By Viraj MahajanJan 15, 2023
Imagine you're a busy accountant at a CA firm. You're knee-deep in tax season and just when you think you can finally take a breath, your boss drops a bombshell on you: "Oh, by the way, we just landed a new client and they need a full audit by next week."
Talk about a panic-inducing ad hoc project!
But don't worry, with a little bit of teamwork and a lot of caffeine, you and your colleagues will power through it and impress the client with your quick thinking and problem-solving skills.
But what if I told you that there's a way to make managing ad hoc projects a whole lot less stressful?
Enter project management software!
With the right tool, you can easily track deadlines, assign tasks, and communicate with your team all in one central location.
What are Ad-Hoc Projects?
An ad-hoc project is a sudden and unexpected response to a problem that requires immediate attention and has a tight deadline. These projects are typically unplanned and can come in the form of quick emails, unexpected tasks, or changes in employees or resources.
Effective management of ad-hoc projects requires proper planning and tracking to ensure that all team members understand the available resources and how they can be used efficiently to complete specific tasks. However, this can be challenging without the right tools and strong management skills.
SmartTask is a project management tool that can help project managers effectively tackle ad-hoc projects and requests. The advanced features of SmartTask enable team members to create tasks and subtasks, assign tasks to employees, track time, monitor project progress, and complete work before the deadline. With SmartTask, project managers can streamline the process of handling ad-hoc projects, saving time and increasing efficiency.
But how? Let’s find out in the step-by-step guide to managing ad hoc projects below.
4 Best Practices to Manage Ad-Hoc Projects
There are several steps that project managers can take to effectively manage ad-hoc projects:
1. Do a Thorough Risk Assessment
Unexpected risks can make things more complicated. The first step in managing an ad-hoc project is to conduct a thorough risk assessment. Project managers can proactively identify and address potential risks, and mitigate their impact on other ongoing projects.
This can include risks related to the project scope, budget, schedule, resources, and more.
Once potential risks have been identified, the next step is to prioritize which risks need to be addressed first. Communicate the identified risks and the risk response plan to the project team, so they are aware of the potential issues and how to address them.
2. Select Right Project Management Methodology
Agile is a suitable project management methodology for ad-hoc projects. As they are iterative, you can quickly pivot the project as per your need. In addition, this methodology helps you to work with smaller groups on smaller-scale sprints.
A typical Agile project management methodology includes breaking down large project milestones into shorter sprints, making it easy for teams to absorb the new requirement.
It is usually recommended to use either scrum or kanban workflows to manage ad hoc projects.
New to Scum Planning or Agile Systems? The below guides can help you get started in 3.2.1…
👉Scrum Boards: How to create a more efficient workflow
👉How to Be a Sprint Planning Ninja
👉A Comprehensive Guide to Agile Workflows
3. Draft a New Plan with Milestones, Dependencies, & Timeline
The next step is to draft a new plan with all due diligence so that nothing falls through the cracks. Not having a proper plan with milestones and timeframes can lead to mismanagement and the wastage of available resources.
At this stage, your job is to provide a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved and how it needs to be done by whom. Clearly define the project scope, dependencies, and milestones. Each team member should be aware of their roles and responsibilities throughout the project’s journey so they are able to accommodate additional workload into their routine work without feeling lost or overwhelmed.
4. Normalize Transparency Across Stakeholders
Transparent communication is essential in managing ad-hoc projects. It sets clear expectations, identifies issues, and promotes collaboration, which in turn improves teamwork, and allows team members to better understand their roles in the project.
By encouraging open and transparent communication between teams, clients, and other stakeholders, project managers can proactively address potential issues and ensure the success of the project.
How to Manage Ad-Hoc Requests using a Work Management Tool
Now that you've learned about best practices for managing ad-hoc projects better, it's time to give attention to ad-hoc requests. As you manage ad-hoc projects, here are the steps to handle ad-hoc requests with a work management tool.
First things first, don’t dilute your current project scheduling. Keep it intact for as long as possible and for as many people as possible. Avoid the “drop everything” mentality seeping into your team’s workflow. New Ad-Hoc requests have to be planned, assessed for risks, and tracked for them to seamlessly integrate into the everyday schedule of everybody involved in the project.
Here are a few ways by which you can utilize workflow management software and ease the process.
- Set Timelines - The timeline view helps project managers to visualize the long ad-hoc project with subtasks and dependencies.
- Shared Calendar - Share project information with the team and stakeholders using the shared calendar.
- Project Templates - Instead of starting ad-hoc task management from scratch, use the project templates to speed up the planning process.
Planning and identifying the right approach is critical to complete the tasks effectively and giving team members clarity on how and when to proceed.
Prioritize Ad-Hoc Requests
Follow the "Eat the live frog first" approach while prioritizing the task. Prioritize the tasks on the basis of how they impact the ongoing projects, the current performances of the teams, and the availability of other resources. Depending on the level of complexity, working out a Work Breakdown Structure can help you make the right assessment.
The Work Breakdown Structure created in Project Management Software can also help you leverage the power of automation to turn your WBS into a comprehensive Gantt Chart at the click of a button.
- Complete those ad-hoc requests first, which may consume more time and has the potential to delay the project outcome. For instance, certain documents need verification before the project kicks in.
- Follow-it-up tasks that may or may not have minor consequences but can’t be left unattended. For instance, kickoff meetings.
- Requests that can be postponed or avoided without affecting the overall project come at last.
Now comes the trickiest part — allocating resources to each task and subtask.
You can check the workload view in the SmartTask work management tool for resource allocation. In SmartTask, allocating and reallocating resources is simpler than choosing the toppings for ice cream.…
- Search for resources based on specific tags such as role and skills.
- Get a bird’s eye view of everyone’s availability and capacity
- Quickly drag-and-drop work to allocate, extend, shorten or split…
However, keep the timeline and budget in mind while assigning the resources to each task. A well-structured approach will help you to improve results and employee productivity.
💡SmartTask Tip: You can make use of SmartTask’s Kanban board views to assign tasks to necessary participants without disrupting the current workflows. Managers can set the priority and add descriptions for each task so the team can plan their sprints effectively. Commenting at the task level allows managers to identify bottlenecks in advance and reallocate resources.
Track Progress & Generate Reports
The last piece in ad-hoc request management is tracking the progress and simultaneously generating the reports.
SmartTask's advanced features, like task estimate, time log activity, and project summary, will help monitor the progress and make necessary changes if required. All reports can be filtered to show only the data you want to share with stakeholders and then passed on as a PDF or printed out. Here are a few features that will help you track progress and generate reports..
- Advanced Search - Filter data quickly and identify ad-hoc projects with a few clicks.
- Productivity Scoring - Analyze the performance of employees over time.
- Project Summary - Get insights about costing and billing amount and resource utilization.
- Custom Charts - With different customization options available, you can monitor progress and ensure every team member is working without feeling burnt out in an easy-to-understand format.
The Best Ad Hoc Project Management Tool
Last-minute projects can arise anytime and can negatively impact the workflow. The best thing you can do to handle ad-hoc requests is to have the right tools and detailed strategy in place.
If you want to choose a unified tool that helps you manage everything from start to finish like a pro, choose SmartTask. The project management tool has advanced features that give you complete visibility of the team's work status.
SmartTask is the #1 rated all-in-one productivity tool that helps teams organize and manage ad-hoc projects while improving productivity. Explore the advanced features of SmartTask project management software & make managing ad-hoc tasks a breeze.