Engineering Project Planning and Leadership

Engineers involved in product development face many difficult challenges above and beyond solving technical problems. Engineering projects require skills such as leadership, planning, estimating, scheduling, collaboration and communication skills. All individual contributors need these skills, and for those who lead projects and teams of any size – these skills are critical. This workshop educates project leaders and individual contributors about the fundamentals and some advanced project leadership and planning topics, and enables them to complete projects more successfully.

The format of the two-day workshop is a series of brief lectures followed by discussion and hands-on exercises. Case studies and real-life examples are used to illustrate success and failure. Each participant leaves with an action plan that will benefit their organization. The workshop is intended for engineers, technical managers, project leaders, prospective managers, and others who can benefit from improving project planning and leadership skills. Workshop fee includes a comprehensive workbook and email/phone follow-up with the instructor after the workshop to assist with implementation. This course may be customized to meet your needs, and can be delivered at most locations internationally. The workshop covers the following topics.

1. Introduction to Project Leadership

  • What leadership is – and what it isn’t
  • Differences between leadership and management skills
  • Necessary skills for project leadership
  • Distributing project leadership and management responsibilities
  • Developing trust and respect

2. Influence Without Authority

  • Helping others to see your view
  • Building rapport with business associates
  • Influencing other leaders
  • Teamwork, and overcoming the typical team “dysfunctions”
  • Leadership self-assessment

3. Managing Many Priorities

  • The challenges inherent in several top priorities
  • Invisibility of the problem
  • Unpredictability and lack of control
  • The four “Productivity Pillagers” and how to keep them in check
  • Separating real priorities from everyday fire drills
  • Organizing skills: Eliminating your time-wasters
  • Prioritization exercises

4. Engineering Project Planning: Big Picture

  • Overview of project lifecycle
  • Pros and cons of standard lifecycle models
  • Which lifecycle model is best?
  • Project documentation
  • Examples of good planning and poor planning
  • How much planning is the right amount?
  • Dealing with ambiguity and uncertain resource availability

5. Project Culture

  • Creating a successful project environment vs. completing successful projects
  • Elements of project culture
  • Prioritization of company projects
  • Meeting culture: avoiding the traps that waste people’s time

6. Project Estimating

  • Estimation challenges
  • Prerequisites for estimation
  • Comparison of estimation methods
  • Estimation steps
  • Estimation exercise

7. Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

  • Flexibility matrix
  • Tailoring the QFD process to meet varying project objectives
  • Hands-on QFD practice

8. Scheduling Practices

  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Iterative estimating and scheduling
  • Scheduling tools
  • Gantt and PERT charts
  • Commitment based scheduling
  • Project status communication
  • Cost of delay

9. Detailed Design Plans

  • Planning steps
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • “Success” criteria
  • Project plan template
  • Planning exercise
  • Balancing planning with prototyping

10. Design Review Practices

  • Critical design reviews and milestones
  • Formal and informal design reviews
  • Preparation for reviews and accountability
  • Effective design review meetings
  • Making tough decisions related to design review findings
  • Engaging experts from outside the team
  • Third party reviewers
  • Injecting fun and urgency

11. Wrap-up

  • Summary of key points
  • Discussion of action steps
  • Follow-up plan