Project Management Concepts

Project management involves directing resources (human and material) to achieve the goals of the project within engineering and other constraints.

Within the scope of the capstone courses, project management is a team responsibility with the aim of organizing the members in such a way as to create positive synergy. All members of the team have equal status and decisions are made with consensus. Since the planning and tracking of tasks is a major part of project management, a team member can be assigned the special reponsibility “Project planning responsible”; in some projects, a student from the Engineering Management department will take on this role with much broader responsibilities.

To achieve a successful outcome, each team member should play an appropriate role that brings complementary skills. Team members should have clearly-defined responsibilities and tasks that have been agreed upon at the beginning of the project.

A project life-cycle can be divided into the following steps:

Defining (goals and objectives) → Planning (forming a team and setting tasks) → Executing (materialization and testing) → Delivering (documenting and presenting)

Goals are broad statements about what you want to achieve by the end of the project. Objectives are actions and measurable steps that you will take to achieve the goals. During the Planning stage, the following tables and figures can be prepared to help the team, and other stakeholders, to understand the project plan: a work breakdown structure, a project network, a responsibility matrix and a Gantt chart. A risk analysis can also be conducted to maximize the success of the project; see these (simplified) examples. Delivery of the product to the stakeholders is very important; use documentation, presentations and demonstrations effectively to communicate your plan and execution to convince the stakeholders of your success.

Good communication is essential for a successful project. Teams should meet regularly both among themselves and with their advisers. Focus meetings on defining, planning, execution and delivering. The whole team should act in a way that maximizes the success of the project, not just the success of an individual or sub-system. Problem-solving should be done proactively rather than reactively.