The Role of the Project Manager in Collaborative Process Engineering
By Frederic Delrieu
The project manager role is to care about interfaces. All the problems always come from the interfaces. Basically you can rely on experts to manage their domain, care about each detail to solve issues and to build a product with quality following their engineering rules.
But the more complex the systems are, the more components are required, the more contributors are involved and the more complex is the communication between contributors. The project manager has to make sure the communication will be at the right level of understanding between all the contributors.
Only birds fly in the same direction. In a company, even with the best intentions, people will follow different ways and objectives. In the purchasing department, people want the lowest price. In the product department, people want the best performance. In the manufacturing department, people want the easiest assembly operations. In the engineering department, people want to use standard solutions from another project because they have other projects to manage at the same time… thus the project manager must adopt consistency in all these operations and carefully deploy the right communication:
- Communication about the project targets, the project organization
- Communication between experts in order to find the best solutions in decision committees where all the decisions are passed to each and every contributor.
Each contributor has a hierarchical manager to make sure the product is designed in the right way, with quality and safety standards. The role of the project manager is to animate this galaxy of contributors evolving sometimes in chaotic movements…
That’s why the main activity of the project manager should be : “Just care of the communication between people”
Another important thing is to care about the understanding of each other. Because each expert usually speaks his own language: mechanic engineering, electronic engineering, finance and economics, purchasing, administrative, contract managers in legal department, sales… have all their own words and processes.
A fundamental activity of project management is to coordinate all these processes, at the same phasis.
How many situations have been blocked because of misunderstanding between a company and its supplier? Not always because of opposite targets or interest conflict, but because of different processes that make the requirements of the cooperation misunderstood and apparently difficult or even impossible in the required schedule. A good practice is to understand what is behind each single “expert word” or behind each “milestone acronym”, what are the requirements, the necessary results for each contributor to achieve his own successful task, and hunt each single “area of shade” and misunderstood information.
That’s how you can implement a successful collaborative project and achieve your targets.
Frederic Delrieu has more than 10 years of experience in Automotive R&D. He’s an expert in Engineering Project Management, from the idea to the industrial application : Product road-map, product design, Systems Engineering, functional specification, supplier sourcing, development and implementation, quality assurance. Frederic’s can be contacted through his blog, or through his linkedin profile.
No comments yet.