Risk and available talent
The longer a project is active, the more likely there will be interference with the other projects the organization undertakes. We believe this is one of the attractions of scrum or the other agile project management methods, which are designed to offset the fallacious multitasking approaches. In these agile models, we find the project team with more focus on the tasks at hand as the team is not typically pulled in numerous directions as they try to adapt to multiple projects. This distraction often happens without the awareness of the project manager. Experience suggests that availability of talent is a major risk to a project. As organizations go through right-sizing initiatives (layoffs, mass firings) in the face of shrinking profit margins, we see the available talent spread over a larger area.
Projects that consume more resources than planned not only affect that particular project but the adjacent projects as well. The talent that was planned to start off the next project is now consumed by the most recent project. We see this happen when we developed our schedule while under the influence of opiate-like optimism. Our scheduling prowess–or lack of–will have consequences for our entire project portfolio. One solution is to quit pretending it is possible to predict several months into the future. Plan, execute and monitor the status of the project and adjust the schedule as the measurements from the execution tell you; that is, recalibrate. This recalibration may include the start and end time for the next project. React quickly and make the relevant stakeholders aware of the status rather than glad-hand them with half-truths, which only delude both you and them.