Hi everybody, how about a new article giving you tips on how to manage an electrical engineering project?
Well your fellow electrical engineer Jesus Perez Diaz wants to tell you about it. If you want to write an essay for us, don’t be shy and contact us!
So you are about to set up an electrical engineering project but you don’t know anything about methodology to follow and how to proceed?
Just let me know that it’s common and the possibility to achieve success is remote, getting overcost, schedule delay, work out of scope and failure to meet objectives.
What is an Electrical Engineering project?
A project is a temporary effort applied to achieve planned objectives and produce a specific output or outcome. Each project is unique with a defined scope, start and end date (these made it Temporary), outputs are tangible and expressed as deliverables such as Document Reports, Drawings, Constructions, etc. A project has a specific schedule and budget that define indicators of performance.
Electrical engineering projects (in power systems) as any other kind must be scheduled according to the logical sequence of activities involved (calculation, equipment installation, raceways, wiring, grounding…); many of these need to be coordinated with other disciplines such as Civil Engineering (for construction underground raceway systems).
In addition and since Electricity is a service, coordination with other disciplines such as mechanical and process engineering is important, they establish equipment duty and power requirements, so continuous communication and interdisciplinary information revision should be established during project life.
What is project management?
Project management is recognized as a discipline that involves the application of knowledge, techniques, experiences, tools and skills to project activities in order to successfully accomplish all the project objectives and meet client requirements.
There is a lot of information about approaches and methodologies to run projects. Project Management Institute (PMI) developed a guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) that establishes the common processes and best practices applied to most of projects. These technique and indications should be adapted to each project since they are unique.
PMBOK is process-based, it means that objectives are achieved by executing processes, being concise with other recognize management standards such as ISO 9000. Each process interacts with others; has Inputs, Tools / Techniques to be applied, and of course Outputs. PMBOK establishes five process groups:
- Initiating: Involves all the processes applied for starting a new project or stage, taking authorization from organization and sponsor.
- Planning: these processes establish the scope of work, objectives to accomplish, Plans, schedule, budget, quality issues, among others.
- Executing: Processes to carry out for committing the defined scope and activities indicated in project plan.
- Monitoring and controlling: includes all the activities to review, check and track the project performance in order to determine any deviation of the Plan.
- Closing: All processes done to formally end the project.
These recommendations apply to any type of electrical engineering project.
Electrical Engineering: successful project management
There is no recipe for success in Electrical Engineering Projects but a balance of skills, experiences and knowledge can be the key to obtain positive results.
Regarding my experience, I identify some issues that I consider important:
Project scope must be detailed and specifically defined in the early stage. It should be written in a document and reviewed by all project team members. Out of scope activities should be mentioned in order to easily detect any deviation.
Any activity done out of the approved scope will affect schedule and budget.
Physical and Electrical Battery Limits of the Scope should be clear and mentioned, determining which panelboard, equipment, substation and area will be included as part of the project.
Making Real Plans
Plans should be made considering the defined scope and requirements, taking into account all the tasks, responsible and milestones.
Plans must be real, based on available resources (human, technological, financial), employee work schedule, and quality issues.
If the obtained plan does not meet project requirements such as end date, actions must be taken by the organization (hire more people, buy new equipment…) in order to commit them.
Risks are always present and can affect (positive or negative) project objectives. Identify possible risks at the beginning of the project is really important, determining real causes and how to avoid them by pre-event and post-event plan ensure that any action won’t be improvised.
Project manager shouldn’t be taken by surprise for risk.
Projects are carried out by people, so how employees feel about work influences project performance. A better environment will bring better results, adaptation to changes and commitments to the achievement of objectives.
Work environment can be improved by good and open communication, training, rewards, and flexibility.
Tracking and Monitoring
It consists of evaluating the work already done with the project plans. Deviation of plans must be studied and corrective actions should be taken. Tracking and monitoring establishes project performance, using key indicators such as efficiency, efficacy, earned value, etc.
These indicators are usually shown in a dashboard that makes work easier. This ensure that project will be completed on time and meeting the budget.
By Jesús Pérez Díaz,
Thanks for reading.
What’s your opinion and experience in Electrical Engineering project management? Share it in the comments area.