Tips for Managing Your Engineering Projects
During our work installing and maintaining natural gas generators in Canada we've consulted with a lot of engineers. With enough experience, it's not hard to pick up some ideas of what does and does not work when managing engineering projects.
For our money, these are the most important tips to keep in mind when trying to implement a successful project.
Top 5 Guidelines for Successful Engineering Management
1. Have Clear Goals from The Outset Which Don't Change (Much)
It's almost inevitable that when a project loses direction and turns into a "boondoggle," it's because it either began with unclear end goals or had those end goals repeatedly changed while the project was underway. Having a concrete goal and then sticking to it will vastly increase the chances of success for an engineering project.
2. Manage Morale and Foster Camaraderie
If there's another likely reason for an engineering project to fail, it's because of internal pressures, politics, or bickering. Sometimes all it takes is one actor working in bad faith to derail an entire project. Keeping everyone working as a team is critical.
3. Always Have Milestones
It might seem obvious, but one of the simplest paths to a well-managed project is to have it broken down into a series of logical step-by-step milestones which must each be accomplished for the next to become possible. This gives you achievable short term goals, and guarantees every step only occurs once the groundwork for it has been laid.
4. Follow The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, or the "Pareto Principle," states that 20% of the work done on a job will produce 80% of the results of that job. That's not to say the other 80% of work is worthless, but rather it relies upon the other 20% being done correctly to be effective. A good manager will discover what 20% of work is most important for their project and focus their attention accordingly.
5. Always Have Contingency Plans
No engineering project goes off perfectly. Successful managers are those who recognize where accidents or failures are most likely to occur, and have contingency plans in place should they happen.
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