Engineering Project Management

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Revision as of 09:02, 9 September 2019 by Charlie.Nitschelm (talk | contribs)
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Introduction and Importance

While there are a plenitude of project management techniques such as Waterfall, Agile and Critical Chain Technique. The essential themes to these are Building a Strong Team, Creating Milestones, Establishing Project Parameters, Encouraging Self- Motivation, Establishing a Contingency and using Management Tools. It is also important to note: we are not professionals by any means. We are students that have had successful experiences managing engineering projects, and the tactics could be different based on the size of your team, and of course, the people on it. Project management is essentially influencing and manipulating your team to be organized, structured and efficient in completing goals laid out by and for the team. Read that sentence one more time: goals laid out by and for the team. That is an important note. People want to work on something that they also follow with their mind and hearts. Remember that.

Establishing Project Parameters

Planning the project and outlining the expected deliverable. Minor changes through the course of the project can build up and cause scope creep. In order to mitigate this, establishing an accurate outline of project parameters is advised. These include but are not limited to, the project objectives, scope, time, materials, budgets, reporting and deadlines. These help the involved parties gain a clear and realistic understanding of objectives and deliverables.

Building a Strong Team

Creating a team with the right skills to match the project and the right outlook can further eliminate defects in the end product. Confirming the right attitude also includes making sure team members have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities, making sure they understand the end product and their contribution the the project.

Creating Milestones

At each key stage of the project make clear milestones to keep the scope of the project on track. These milestones can be tracked by setting up calendar reminders and scheduling regular meetings or phone calls.

Encouraging Self-Motivation

Keeping your team engaged is critical to success. This comes down to the approach, expectations, attitude and behavior towards those you are working with. Your role is no longer to do things yourself, but to understand the best way of getting things done through others. If you are looking to be a project manager that maximizes the success your engineering project obtains, it is crucial to create an environemnt that motivates your team to work.

Establishing a Contingency

Project may sometimes not go according to plan. Establishing various contingencies can help keep the project on scope. Discuss possible risk factors and develop solutions and mitigation to prevent these risks from occurring.

Management Tools

People inherently want to succeed, but the amount of time they can put into something is very defined. Some will work their ass off to complete a goal, while others have other priorities that is not club-related. When it comes to the tools you can use for managing people and the project, it is CRUCIAL to remember the concept that everyone is different. It is not your job to change anyone, it is only your job to do as much as you can do to enable them to push themselves. Nobody wants to be pushed. With that thought, let's get into some of the tools I personally have used that have helped A LOT. These tools play with organization, transparency of high and low performers, and metrics how well the team is doing as a whole.

On a previous page on the wiki called "Recommended Team Software and Tools", it introduced Slack, Trello, OneDrive, Github and Google Drive. These are also used heavily for engineering project management. Slack for team/group communication, Trello for organizing tasks, due dates, etc, OneDrive for storing media and possibly collaborating live on Word, Excel etc, GitHub for all engineering files (Solidworks, MATLAB, etc) and Google Drive for convenient live work and trackers. Because I already explained these applications and their importance to any management, I am going to focus on specific examples that have been used these tools for great outcomes.

Tracking with Transparency

This is CRUCIAL. Actually, let me bold This is CRUCIAL. It is known that college students are some of the hardest people to manage, they always have other stuff going on and sometimes can't put 100% into an organization. It is also known that engineers are hard to manage. Hmmmmmm, we are college students and engineers. Tough luck, we got a double edge sword. What to do about it? The above software helps a lot, and Trello is self-explanatory, but the biggest thing I have struggled with is finance. How to get people to help with obtaining donations from their school or surrounding companies is difficult. But, the adoption of a simple google sheet that tracks how each team member is doing on finance initiatives shows who is doing well, who is lacking, and how the team is doing as a whole.

Tracking specific companies and our current relationship status with them for Sponsorship