Best Practices for Managing Large Engineering Projects
29 July 2021
5 Best Practices for Managing Large Engineering Projects
Operational activity is cyclically repeated and does not have an explicit expiration date. For example, in serial production of specific car models, production will be stopped when the model becomes obsolete or the demand for it disappears. At the same time, there is a type of activity where the start and end dates are strictly defined, the actions of the participants are coordinated and the expected result is defined. Such an activity is called a project activity.
Although project management is a modern management discipline, projects have existed for a long time. For modern managers, awareness of best project management practices is a must if you want to succeed in any business.
Classic Project Management
The most obvious way to make your project more manageable is to break down the execution process into successive steps. It is on this linear structure that traditional project management is based. In this sense, a project resembles a computer game – you cannot go to the next level without completing the previous one.
Usually, there are 5 stages of classical project management, but additional stages can be added if the project requires it. These are:
Stage 1 – Initiation. The project manager and team define the requirements for the project. At this stage, meetings and “brainstorming” sessions are often held, at which it is determined what the product of the project should be.
Stage 2 – Planning. At this stage, the team decides how it will achieve the goal(s) set in the previous stage. At this stage, the team clarifies and details the goals and results of the project, as well as the scope of work on it.
Stage 3 – Development. This stage is not implemented for all projects – as a rule, it is part of the planning phase. In the development phase, typical for technological projects, the configuration of the future project and/or product and the technical ways of achieving it are determined. For example, in IT projects, a programming language is chosen at this stage.
Stage 4 – Implementation and testing. In this phase, the actual main work on the project takes place – writing code, erecting a building, and the like. Following the developed plans, the content of the project, determined earlier, begins to be created, control is carried out according to the selected metrics. In the second part of this phase, the product is tested, it is checked for compliance with the requirements of the customer and interested parties. In terms of testing, product flaws are identified and corrected.
Stage 5- Monitoring and completion of the project. Depending on the project, this phase can consist of a simple transfer of the project results to the customer or a lengthy process of interaction with clients to improve the project and increase their satisfaction and support the project results. The latter applies to projects in the field of customer service and software.
As mentioned earlier, not all projects can be structured in such a way as to be implemented according to the classical design approach. For example, consider how a chef goes about preparing a multi-course meal. This can be deemed to be a project given that it involves the balancing of time, quality and cost. However, although the preparation of each course may seem to follow the “waterfall” approach, it would be almost impossible to prepare and serve a four-course dinner on time, if each course had to wait for completion of a preceding dish before starting to cook another.
And that’s where Agile comes into play – a family of flexible, iterative-incremental methods for managing projects and products. According to this approach, the project is not divided into successive phases, but into small sub-projects, which are then “assembled” into a finished product.
Agile tells us to break down into small, manageable work packages, but it says nothing about how to manage the development of that package. Scrum offers us its processes and procedures. Lean, in turn, adds a workflow to the principles of Agile so that each iteration is performed equally well.
In Lean, just like in Scrum, work is broken down into small delivery packages that are implemented separately and independently. But in Lean, there is a workflow for the development of each delivery package with stages similar to those created for the Apollo project. As in classical project management, these can be the stages of planning, development, production, testing, and delivery – or any other stages necessary for the high-quality implementation of projects.
Lean phases and their flexibility allow you to be sure that every part of the project is being implemented as required. Lean does not contain clear boundaries for stages, as in Scrum Sprints limitations are spelt out. In addition, unlike classical project management, Lean allows you to simultaneously perform several tasks at different stages, which increases flexibility and increases the speed of project execution.
Another well-known trademark in the world of project management is Artemis. Traditionally, the Artemis family software has been used to manage large engineering projects which have been accomplished by professional companies, presented on many international engineering platforms such as Engre.co. And nowadays, the Artemis International Corporation distributes a series of programs.
The ArtemisViews family consists of a set of modules that automate various aspects of project management: ProjectView, ResourceView, TrackView, CostView. All modules are data compatible, work in a client-server architecture, support the ODBC standard, and easily integrate with the popular Oracle, SQLBase, SQLServer, Sybase DBMS. Each module can work both independently and in combination with other software. The price for this traditionally expensive software is calculated based on the ordered configuration.
According to Ares Prism, change management is a process of forecasting and planning future changes, recording all potential changes (in project content, specification, cost, plan, network, etc.) for detailed study, assessment of the consequences, approval or rejection, as well as the organization of monitoring and coordination of performers implementing changes in project.
The reasons for making changes are usually the impossibility of foreseeing new design solutions at the stage of project development, more effective materials, structures, and technologies, etc., as well as the lag in the course of the project from the planned dates, volumes due to unforeseen circumstances.
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