How can you use technology to manage engineering projects?
- 2.1 Workflow automation
- 2.2 Scheduling software
- 2.3 Information-gathering tools
- 2.4 Project tracking
- 2.5 Agile project management methodology
- 2.6 Kanban
- 2.7 Extreme Programming (XP)
- 2.8 Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
- 2.9 Event chain methodology
- 2.10 Rational Unified Process (RUP)
- 2.11 Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
- 2.12 Interactive Media
Today’s world is driven by technology, and companies are prompted to use tools and modern technologies that support current demand. In the engineering field, lots of work and projects are taking place. Remember, this is a wide industry that encompasses software development and IT as well. You can still complete work without deploying advanced technology, but that will take ages. Incorporating various technologies and software will help in effectively forecasting, planning, and managing projects. Companies with a comprehensive management process are more likely to achieve success.
Currently, most project managers are moving away from spreadsheets to digital solutions. The use of computer programs is the new norm that allows stakeholders to build a well-organized and consistent platform. Through the software, you can view every task on a single page. There are calendar notifications integrated with the functions. Technology empowers structural engineers to compile data and estimate workloads based on the schedule and available resources. It boosts the user experience by merging and coordinating every step.
It is easier to manage a project from a single platform because you can derive informative data in real time and reduce administrative costs. An organized engineering project will always trigger conversations among workers, leading to informed decisions that are disseminated to all departments of the company and, most importantly, to the client.
How can you use technology to manage engineering projects?
Standardization and consistency
The successful delivery of an engineering project is anchored on the combination of standardization and consistency. The industry is full of daily challenges that prompt individuals to create personalized methods such as customized techniques and templates to assist them in achieving their objectives.
Unfortunately, you cannot join a personalized project where you have little knowledge of specific methods being applied. Therefore, it is very difficult to maintain consistency in an organization that has adopted personalized systems. The company should adopt a standardized model through a digital platform from which all team members can learn about the status of the project at a glance, from inception to completion.
You can use planning software to put the entire engineering project into one system so that you trace current and future time and resource allocations. In this way, the organization can plan the use of resources optimally within timelines. The system prevents scenarios where one engineer is underutilized at 30 hours a week while another one is overworked at 50 hours a week. Technology is the solution where a digital program will allocate equal hours for every engineer out of the cumulative 80 hours.
A computer program allows managers to design a project work plan, track work hours for employees, extract real-time data from employees’ timesheets and generate forecasts. By comparing the current and forecasted data, managers can establish whether their planning was effective. Forecasts are also benchmarks to identify mistakes and loopholes, especially where time and resources were not properly allocated for the sake of making amends.
Elevated technology leads to elevated performance
Technology is critical for both managers and engineers throughout the lifespan of a project. Team members can log into the system and check their schedule and work allocation. Based on their work hours, they can check if they are meeting their targets. Project engineers use technology to plan their workloads and predict whether they will be available for future assignments. Incorporating planning software means the system can update member schedules and either add or deduct some allocated time.
The Master’s in Engineering Management offered by the University of Ottawa provides insight into the advanced technology that can be used as a perfect resource. When you boost management with proper software, the outcome can be incredible. You can plan and execute functions through a centralized location. Technology helps you to avoid schedule mix-ups. Software designed for engineering tasks is critical in allocating resources and avoiding miscommunications. Many companies leverage technology to better manage projects and channel their efforts towards other aspects of the project. In the end, clients will be happy, and stakeholders will be satisfied with the work of managers.
Available technologies for engineering projects
There has been tremendous development in the engineering field in the last decade. More specifically there has been growth in the technologies to reorganize projects and inject aspects of synchronicity. Technology has made the work of managers easier and made them more adaptable to the dynamic engineering environment.
Below are technologies that have played a significant role in changing the game for engineering projects:
It is not easy to develop a workflow because the task is loaded with massive challenges. However, with automation tools, you will overcome this. You can automate the reporting function and workflow to allow team members to focus on duties outside their administrative roles. The system will become more flexible for them to respond to queries from clients and other stakeholders. While adopting automation tools, make sure they are not too rigid for you to cope with the shifting market conditions.
Engineering companies and organizations are working round the clock to achieve sensitive goals for clients. Some project engineers are located in different time zones, yet they have to work in collaboration and serve the same interests. For this reason, scheduling software has been developed to guarantee successful project management. For instance, the UK is witnessing massive decentralization of workforces in addition to many other countries. This technology enables team members to be on the same page while trying to meet deadlines and attending calls and meetings. There is no doubt that a decentralized organization without this software will be in a disastrous mess.
You can never underestimate the importance of information-gathering tools in project management. This includes sensors that managers use to gather specific types of information through market research. The tools are crucial because they generate data within a very short period. Sensors are, therefore, ideal if you are working on a research-based engineering project.
Another information tool is the cloud-based software which monitors the progress of every team member and passes this data to all team members in real-time. While choosing an information-gathering tool, make sure it can self-update so that all its features remain current. It is important that your data keeps changing so that you don’t fall for outdated or ineffective input.
Just like businesses, engineering programs are moving towards project management technology and cloud-based sharing. Managers of engineering projects are responsible for improving productivity, so they must use this technology to foster accountability among member engineers. Research has proved that project tracking through cloud-based technology improves focus among team members to increase productivity.
Agile project management methodology
Agile project management is a system of managing engineering work processes in an iterative, adaptive, and structured manner. Unlike traditional approaches, this technique allows you to complete tasks simultaneously without any dependencies. Since tasks can be completed in a parallel way, it is easy to detect issues and fix them. You can also introduce changes easily at any level of the project. Agile projects are built and executed through computer programs. You should therefore expect maximum quality, accuracy, and minimal rework. Teams here boast strong collaboration and communication skills.
This is a technology that helps managers and supervisors to move work from the ‘Doing’ status to ‘Done’. The approach also helps in visualizing work and reducing the work in progress. Managers use Kanban boards to organize various items of the project. After completing one stage, you also record this development on the boards. Fortunately, you can customize the names and numbers of every stage so that they suit the engineering industry and appeal to the needs of your workflow. Kanban allows any team member to manage the process because it is easy to use. It motivates every member to complete their tasks on time.
Extreme Programming (XP)
XP is a specific methodology used in software engineering. It is used in short development cycles and is designed to enhance the quality of the software and improve team productivity. The core of extreme programming consists of four development processes: designing, listening, testing, and coding. There are more software development practices in the software engineering sector, and management practices can either be done in isolation or in conjunction. XP perfectly suits small enterprises working on engineering projects with highly changing environments.
Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
APF is an upgrade of traditional project management strategies. It was initially used by IT experts, but it has spread to other industries, including engineering. APF is a technology that is adaptive, iterative and client focused. Due to its flexibility, managers can use it to address unexpected changes. APF goes through five steps. First is the project scope, where the engineering company involves the client in identifying the project goals, assumptions, risks, and success criteria. The second step is the cycle plan, where project managers put together objectives, resources, and schedules.
The cycle build is the third step. Here, the main tasks are executed with managers adjusting the scope of work as they implement improvement ideas. In the fourth stage, clients are asked to review the results and make recommendations before moving to a new APF cycle. Lastly is the post-version review, which is the sole responsibility of project managers who appraise the entire process, collect best practices, and recognize areas for improvement.
Event chain methodology
Project managers use the event chain methodology as an uncertainty modeling strategy to establish the link between project schedules and events. It is a very effective approach for engineering managers who use it to manage expected and unexpected events that may influence project planning. This methodology is part of modern technologies and is built upon various principles like chain of events, risk time and status and Monte Carlo simulation, among others.
Rational Unified Process (RUP)
Although RUP has been around for some time, it is one of the most used technologies. It is a process framework applicable in the engineering environment, although software developers designed it. This approach provides iterative measures for managing projects and relies on user feedback to establish ways of planning the future. RUP goes through a series of phases.
The first phase is inception, where managers evaluate the possible risks of the project and the resources needed to facilitate its success. Secondly is the elaboration phase, which mainly involves the estimation of costs. Thirdly is construction, where resources are utilized to develop the project. The last phase is a transition, where the project is delivered to the user for feedback and then adjusted in the case of any recommendations.
Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
PERT is a modern way through which project engineers identify the likely time they will spend to accomplish a certain task. The strategy assists in coordinating and scheduling as well as creating budget estimates. The PERT model is available in various computer software, and managers can develop charts to represent events and sequences within the project. In a PERT flowchart, arrows show sequence while nodes depict events. Managers can then compute various aspects of time, including expected, most likely, pessimistic and optimistic time. The PERT method also includes crucial engineering metrics, task-level delay time, critical path, and more.
Media is critical in the management of engineering projects. In this context, interactive media refers to a network of software, hardware and protocols that combine to form the internet. More interactive media components include the World Wide Web, which informs users of ways to connect to the internet and send or receive information. This technology is effective in engineering because managers can use interactive media to conduct research.
The internet has updated information about the latest inputs and features in the engineering industry. It is through interactive media that some technologies can be accessed. For instance, you must download updated software that appeals to the modern client.
The internet also helps in system administration, where project managers can use various communication channels to coordinate the workforce. In decentralized organizations, interactive media allows engineers to attend meetings despite their time differences. Finally, the internet helps engineering managers to install information security systems and combat cybercrime.
Engineering is a noble profession because it churns out individuals who develop and manage our infrastructure. The field is wide, including structural, mechanical, software, and electrical engineers and more. While performing their duties, they work under project managers who facilitate their coordination and planning. Luckily, multiple technological aspects help managers execute their functions. Today, management roles are easier because of the available tools.