Project ManagementProper project management on big engineering jobs is critical to ensure the job gets done on time and on budget. We take project management very seriously here at McNeil Engineering. It is one thing to put an engineer’s mindset to work on a project, but it is entirely another to properly manage it to ensure adequate results.

Whatever field of engineering you work in, the reputation of your company rests largely on your ability to get things done – on time, and within budget. The proper specs must be met. Keeping projects to schedule – particularly with inevitable changes, additions and delays – becomes a project manager’s biggest challenge. And it’s one we excel at meeting.

Whether one is an experienced engineer or project manager looking for ways to properly deliver on a successful project, these are the best ways to properly project manage a big job. The best project managers are great at setting, managing and exceeding expectations. And that’s exactly what we do here at McNeil Engineering.

Ensure Project Specifications are Clear from the Start

This may seem like an obvious observation, but the biggest reason projects run into problems is because they were not laid out properly in the beginning. Pre-project planning is critical to ensuring success. Even small changes along the way can derail a project. Before the team even gets started, it’s important to ensure the objectives, scope, timeline, materials, budget, specs and reporting are all in order.

Project expectations must be initially established between a client and senior management before the project gets off the ground. Project managers must ensure their involvement in the early planning process. All parties must have a realistic understanding of the job, objectives and deliverables. This is all done in the very beginning.

Focusing on a Strong Project Management Team

It’s of vital importance that you create a team with the right skills and attitudes to get the job done. The project manager’s job is to ensure the team involved has the proper skills and talents to see the job through to the end. Everyone must have a clear understanding of their roles and how they contribute to the overall development of the project. Before civil or structural engineers even get involved, the team must be properly selected.

You also want to make sure your project managers are empowered to make decisions on the fly. They must be motivated and ready to handle unforeseen circumstances. Working with an engaged and motivated team is critical to ensuring the success of a project. In many cases, the project manager’s role is not to do things themselves, but to understand the best way of getting things done by motivating and instructing the team.

Establish Benchmarks and Project Milestones

Project managers must also be able to gauge where they are at on a project at all times. They must be able to establish client sign-offs at various stages throughout the project. This way, all stakeholders will be engaged in the project and delivery will be kept on track. There are several ways this can be done. One way is to set up calendar reminders for milestones. This ensures transparency around deadlines and keeps timelines and budgets in order.

It is also important that project managers are more proactive than reactive. This will create an atmosphere where any unforeseen issues can be dealt with quickly and without the chaos of unplanned reactions. And finally, don’t hesitate to celebrate when key milestones and benchmarks are met. This will keep your team motivated and engaged in the project.

See the Big Picture and Expect the Unexpected

Part of being proactive involves expecting the unexpected. And seeing the big picture helps project managers ensure they have the information they need to expect the unexpected. They should be able to simplify complex problems and break them down into more manageable and measurable projects. While making the wider plan seem less daunting, it also allows for a more effective means of tracking progress and measuring success.

It’s important to remember that projects rarely go exactly to plan. Contingency plans must be established so that the team does not hit the panic button the moment something does not go according to plan. The project manager should work out risk factors at various stages and set up a plan on how to minimize their impact should they crop up. One should never plan for failure, but changes that could create failure should be expected and planned for.

Here at McNeil Engineering, we understand how important it is to ensure a project is properly managed by an experienced and professional project manager. We never go into a job without keeping all the factors we’ve discussed in this article in mind. If you’re looking for a project manager you can count on for your project, contact us today.