All projects have their challenges and that will never change, but the sense of dread and déjà vu when a carefully executed plan goes off the rails can (and should) be avoided. If you find your team facing the same hurdles repeatedly, it might be because you have inefficiencies baked into your engineering workflow and that there’s a problem that needs to be solved.
Fortunately, with the right tools, people and processes in place, you can overcome these problems.
Here’s a look at six common project management challenges that tend to crop up in engineering firms and how you can tackle them:
- Complex collaboration
The engineering phase is a living, interdependent ecosystem of contractors and consultants who all need to prepare a path to success across multiple disciplines. One late drawing or overlooked amendment can cause major delays and have unexpected consequences.
Solution: Gain visibility into these dependencies early and communicate them to all stakeholders by deploying a single system that shares regular progress reports with all parties.
- Non-standard documents
Contractors all have their own unique processes and cultures, often operating on incompatible systems. Shared administrative culture can resolve many problems, and simply creating document templates can reduce the need for rework. They can be re-used across multiple projects and will improve the consistency of reporting.
Solution: Establish a database of document templates and distribute them to all contractors or firms working on the project.
- Poor auditing
Does your firm perform a thorough delay analysis every time a project is bottlenecked? If not, this might be part of the problem. A comprehensive document history and audit trail creates a culture of accountability and transparency. These audit trails can also be reviewed to streamline the project management process in future.
Solution: Establish a consistent paper trail for every decision and progress update. Project management software allows you to capture these paper trails digitally with a detailed timeline that cannot be tampered with.
- Missed cost savings opportunities
Open communication allows for the exchange of ideas that could unlock potential cost-saving opportunities. If everyone has the same overview of the project, then they can use their experience to suggest alternative methods or materials to complete a task more efficiently. A key component of this communication is having a team that is working from the same, correct information in real time.
Solution: A central, digital project plan (with the relevant details for each stakeholder) gives everyone an up-to-date view of the latest project details and progress, making it easier to spot cost saving opportunities.
- Poor relationship management
Establishing a clear communication strategy for each stage of the project is crucial to creating an efficient working relationship with project collaborators and, importantly, with your clients. That communications strategy is in place to serve relevant information to the intended recipient when they need it.
Solution: Give your client an overview of the project status and regular updates on any possible opportunities. A system that allows you to create a custom dashboard can speed up client approvals by giving them a space to submit job requests and view the project status.
- Unproductive conflict
The occasional dose of workplace tension often proves that those involved are passionate about doing the best job possible. Having a central open communications channel where stakeholders and collaborators can share ideas and voice their grievances enables you to channel that passion into a constructive debate or discourse, having a positive effect on the project.
Solution: Establish a project-specific communications channel alongside the project management process that is hierarchy free and allows the exchange of ideas.
The above challenges are nearly universal across engineering projects and can even manifest within well-functioning teams. A digital project management platform like Deltek Vantagepoint is a valuable resource to help keep the project management train on the rails.
Download this free guide to see all the ways that Deltek Vantagepoint can unlock productivity in your workflow.