Engineering project managers take on the role of a team leader and have the ultimate responsibility for the successful performance of a project. Their key responsibilities include managing the project scope, deliverables, schedule, budget and quality. Read on to find out what it takes to be an engineering project manager.
The tasks of an engineering project manager depend on the objectives of the project. Key project activities, anticipated sequence and desired outcomes of the project have to be kept in mind. Engineering project managers often handle “scope creeps”, when unexpected tasks crop up that might increase the cost of the project or jeopardise time management.
Performance indicators, or “deliverables”, are usually defined at the beginning of a project. This might come in the form of one final major deliverable, such as a study report or a set of design plans. For large projects, performance indicators come in interim deliverables at several key milestones used to assess the progress and direction of the project. Engineering project managers are also responsible for routine deliverables which include regular progress reporting, updated schedules, meeting minutes, as well as project correspondence records.
Engineering project managers monitor the progress of a project by calculating major milestone schedules using specialised scheduling software. Detailed schedules set the start and completion dates for individual tasks and also the relation of a particular task on others.
One of the major roles of an engineering project manager is to establish the budget according to a “work breakdown structure” used to estimate the level of effort for individual work tasks. They then prepare “cost to complete” estimates used to determine if a project can be completed within the budget.
Engineering project managers have to assure all internal project quality assurance procedures are followed. Depending on the project, formal reviews or independent audits of the quality programme implementation are needed at key milestones of the project.
A deputy project manager may be assigned to assist engineering project managers on larger projects. A senior manager also assists with issues such as contracting, insurance, allocation of staff as well as other resources.
Prior to advancing to the role of an engineering project manager, engineers usually serve in staff positions or task leader positions. They would also need specialised training in project management functions either from external sources or in-house training programmes.
To be an engineering project manager, you need skills such as excellent organisational, planning, and time management skills. Logical thinking, attention to detail and good communication will also help you to achieve a successful and rewarding career.