Project Management

A project is defined as “An endeavor with a specific objective to be met within the proscribed time and dollar limitations and that has been assigned for definition or execution.” Project management is defined as “The use of skills and knowledge in coordinating the organizing, planning, scheduling, directing, controlling, monitoring, and evaluating of prescribed activities to ensure that the stated objectives of a project, manufactured good, or service are achieved.” It requires knowledge, and I took a graduate course in Project Management at the University of St. Thomas. I also have broad technical knowledge from my experiences as a Manufacturing Engineer, designing and building Manufacturing Systems. Combined with experience working as a Project Manager and Systems Integration Manager I am equipped to manage your systems integration project..

The Project Managers role begins with a contract, or assignment to an internal project. The first step is to recognize and reconcile differences between expectations of the parties involved. Often in the case of a contract there are different terms & conditions in which the parties largely ignore each others proposal or purchase order details and those need to be worked out. Also the scope of the project needs to be defined with clear boundaries so as not to suffer “scope creep” which has caused the demise of many projects. This is called the “Statement Of Work.”

Milestones are identified and defined, and they often coincide with progress payments or major accomplishments such as design layouts, purchasing major pieces of equipment, testing, shipping, and acceptance. The milestones are documented on a Work Breakdown Structure, which is a hierarchical description of a project in which each lower level is more detailed. It includes:

Review a Work Breakdown Structure by following this link.

Project management of medium to large scope and many tasks should use software to manage the tracking and aid in the generation of Gantt Charts. The software need not be complex and I’ve used a simple program called “OpenWorkbook” to manage several projects.

Review a Gantt Chart by following this link.

Since each project is a network of activities, there is one series of tasks that takes the longest and defines the length of time for a project, called the “critical path.” Those activities must be planned for and monitored diligently in order to avoid extending the duration of the project.

When managing several projects using the same resources it is essential that a “Master Schedule” be created to show the impact the different schedules have on resources, so decisions can be made in due time to reconcile the contention for resources.