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Engineering Project Management

Neil G. Siegel

ISBN: 978-1-119-52579-0 August 2019 408 Pages


A hands-on guide for creating a winning engineering project

Engineering Project Management is a practical, step-by-step guide to project management for engineers. The author – a successful, long-time practicing engineering project manager – describes the techniques and strategies for creating a successful engineering project. The book introduces engineering projects and their management, and then proceeds stage-by-stage through the engineering life-cycle project, from requirements, implementation, to phase-out. The book offers information for understanding the needs of the end user of a product and other stakeholders associated with a project, and is full of techniques based on real, hands-on management of engineering projects.

The book starts by explaining how we perform the actual engineering on projects; the techniques for project management contained in the rest of the book use those engineering methods to create superior management techniques. Every topic – from developing a work-breakdown structure and an effective project plan, to creating credible predictions for schedules and costs, through monitoring the progress of your engineering project – is infused with actual engineering techniques, thereby vastly increasing the effectivity and credibility of those management techniques.

The book also teaches you how to draw the right conclusions from numeric data and calculations, avoiding the mistakes that often cause managers to make incorrect decisions. The book also provides valuable insight about what the author calls the social aspects of engineering project management: aligning and motivating people, interacting successfully with your stakeholders, and many other important people-oriented topics. The book ends with a section on ethics in engineering.

This important book:

  • Offers a hands-on guide for developing and implementing a project management plan
  • Includes background information, strategies, and techniques on project management designed for engineers
  • Takes an easy-to-understand, step-by-step approach to project management
  • Contains ideas for launching a project, managing large amount of software, and tips for ending a project

Structured to support both undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering project management, Engineering Project Management is an essential guide for managing a successful project from the idea phase to the completion of the project.



1 The role and the challenge

1.1 Introduction

1.1.2 Why do we care about engineering project management?

1.1.3 The opportunity for you

1.2 The project

1.2.1 Where do projects come from?

1.2.2 Customers

1.2.3 Attributes of projects

1.2.4 The project life-cycle

1.2.5 Goals of the project / factors that are in tension with each other

1.3 The project manager

1.3.1 The role

1.3.2 You as the manager of an engineering project

1.4 Engineering processes can help you

1.5 The engineering project manager mind-set

1.6 Next

1.7 About facilitated lab sessions and practical exercises

1.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

1.8.1 Exemplars

1.8.2 Points for discussion

2 Performing engineering on projects, part I

2.1 The systems method

2.1.1 Motivation and description

2.1.2 Life-cycle shapes

2.1.3 Progress through the stages

2.2 Requirements

2.3 Design

2.3.1 The design and its process

2.3.2 The design hierarchy is not the same as the requirements hierarchy

2.3.3 Modeling

2.3.4 Design patterns

2.3.5 Do the hard parts first

2.3.6 Designs and your team

2.3.7 Summary for design

2.4 Interaction of the requirements and design processes with project-management processes

2.5 Your role in all this

2.6 Next

2.7 This week’s facilitated lab session

3 Performing engineering on projects, part II

3.1 The remaining stages of the project life-cycle

3.1.1 Implementation

3.1.2 Integration

3.1.3 Testing verification and validation

3.1.4 Testing planning, procedures, test levels, other hints about testing

3.1.5 Production

3.1.6 Deployment. Use in actual mission operations.

3.1.7 The non-project life-cycles stages.

3.2 Next

3.3 This week’s facilitated lab session

4 Understanding your users and your other stakeholders

4.1 The four steps to understanding your users and the other stakeholders

4.2 Case study about the value of using the customer’s coordinate system of value

4.3 Special topic: designing the user experience

4.4 Summary for understanding your users

4.5 Next

4.6 This week’s facilitated lab session

5 How do engineering projects get created?

5.1 Engineering projects are created in response to a need, or a vision

5.2 How to win

5.2.1 Approach #1: the Heilmeier questions

5.2.2 Approach #2: Neil’s approach: achieve positive competitive differentiation

5.3 Your role in all this

5.4 Summary for how to win

5.5 Next

5.6 This week’s facilitated lab session

6 Organizing and planning

6.1 The work-breakdown structure

6.2 The statement of work

6.3 The organization chart

6.4 The project plan

6.5 Your role in all this

6.6 Summary for organizing and planning

6.7 Next

6.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

7 creating credible predictions for schedule and cost

7.1 Setting the stage

7.2 Estimating the schedule for your project

7.2.1 Step 1: Define the tasks

7.2.2 Step 2: Identify the inter-dependencies between the tasks

7.2.3 Step 3: Estimate, in a statistical fashion, the duration of each task

7.2.4 Step 4: Fixed dates versus derived dates

7.2.5 Examples

7.3 Estimating the cost for your project

7.4 Injecting realism into your estimates

7.4.1 The S-curve

7.4.2 Another aspect of realism in schedules: margin and slack

7.4.3 Calibrate against top-down estimation methods

7.4.4 Resource leveling

7.5 Cost versus price

7.6 Your role in all this

7.7 The intersection with engineering

7.8 Next

7.9 This week’s facilitated lab session

8 Drawing valid conclusions from numbers

8.1 In engineering, we must make measurements

8.2 The data and/or the conclusions often are wrong

8.2.1 The fallacy of the silent evidence

8.2.2 Logical flaws in the organization of system testing

8.2.3 The problem of scale

8.2.4 Signal and noise

8.2.5 A special type of measurement: the test

8.2.6 The decision tree: a method that properly accounts for conditional probabilities

8.3 What engineering project managers need to measure

8.4 Implications for the design and management processes

8.4.1 We need measurements in order to create good designs

8.4.2 Projects provide an opportunity for time-series

8.4.3 Interpreting the data

8.4.4 How projects fail

8.4.5 Avoid “explaining away” the data

8.4.6 Keep a tally of predictions

8.4.7 Social aspects of measurement

8.4.8 Non-linear effects

8.4.9 Sensitivity analysis

8.4.10 Keep it simple

8.4.11 Modeling

8.4.12 Ground your estimates and predictions in the past

8.5 Your role in all this

8.6 Summary for drawing valid conclusions from numbers

8.7 Next

8.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

9 Risk and opportunity management

9.1 Things can go wrong with our project. How do we cope?

9.2 The steps of risk management

9.2.1 Step a: Identify the potential risks

9.2.2 Step b: Identify the symptoms

9.2.3 Step c: Select the item to be measured, and the measurement methods

9.2.4 Step d: Score each risk for both likelihood and impact

9.2.5 Step e: Create mitigation and exploitation plans

9.2.6 Step f: Create triggers and timing requirements for those mitigation plans

9.2.7 Step g: Create a method to aggregate all risk assessments into a periodic overall project impact prediction

9.2.8 Step h: Create and use some sort of periodic “management rhythm”, wherein you periodically make decisions about risk mitigation and opportunity exploitation actions, based on the periodic assessment

9.2.9 Step i: When risks actually occur (and therefore, transition from risks to issues), perform a root-cause analysis

9.3 The two special types of risks

9.3.1 The low-likelihood but high-impact event

9.3.2 The risks that we have not yet identified

9.4 Lessons learned from risk management

9.5 Your role in all this

9.6 Summary for risk and opportunity management

9.7 Next

9.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

10 Monitoring the progress of your project, part I

10.1 Monitoring progress via updated predictions to schedule and cost

10.2 Making the updated predictions

10.2.1 Creating the updated prediction for schedule

10.2.2 Preview: variance analysis

10.2.3 Creating the updated prediction for cost

10.2.4 Taking earned value

10.2.5 The rolling wave

10.3 Using those updated predictions

10.3.1 Calculating the schedule and cost variances

10.3.2 The time variance

10.3.3 The variance analysis

10.4 Financial measures about which your company will care

10.4.1 Sales

10.4.2 Profit

10.4.3 Cash-flow

10.4.4 Day-sales receivables

10.5 Your role in all this

10.6 Summary for monitoring the progress of your project, part I

10.7 Next

10.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

11 Monitoring the progress of your project, part II

11.1 How the manager of an engineering project ought to allocate his/her time

11.2 A big claim on our time: the periodic management rhythm

11.3 The steps in detail

11.3.1 Updating the predictions of operational and technical performance

11.3.2 Updating the predictions for the schedule

11.3.3 Updating the predictions for the cost

11.3.4 Updating the risk assessment, and initiating risk-mitigation activities

11.3.5 The monthly calendar

11.3.6 The accounting calendar

11.3.7 Management reserve funding

11.4 The social benefits of the periodic management rhythm

11.5 Your role in all this

11.6 Summary for monitoring the progress of your project, part II

11.7 Next

11.8 This week’s facilitated lab session

12 Four special topics

12.1 Launching your project

12.1.1 The project start-up process

12.1.2 The earned-value baseline a special project start-up task

12.1.3 Preparing to operate at a large scale

12.1.4 Summary for starting a project

12.2 Systems and projects with large amounts of software

12.2.1 The benefits

12.2.2 The problems

12.2.3 Lessons learned for the project manager about software

12.3 The agile software-development methodology

12.4 Ending a project

12.5 Your role in all this

12.6 Next

12.7 This week’s facilitated lab session

13 The social aspects of engineering project management

13.1 Dealing with people, becoming a leader

13.2 Alignment

13.3 The sine qua non of leadership

13.4 Motivating your team

13.5 Recognizing and resolving conflict

13.6 Siegel’s mechanics of project management

13.7 Special people with whom you must interact

13.7.1 Dealing with your management

13.7.2 Dealing with your customers

13.7.3 The human resources department an important partner

13.8 Your career as an engineer

13.9 Change on your project

13.10 Coping with career change

13.10.1 Foundational knowledge

13.10.2 Life-long learning

13.10.3 On-the-job learning

13.10.4 Know and grow

13.10.5 Summary for how to cope with career change

13.10.6 Examples of mid-career changes I have known

13.11 Getting ahead

13.11.1 Preparing yourself for leadership

13.11.2 Getting ahead: understanding your boss

13.11.3 Enablers

13.11.4 Leadership versus management

13.11.5 Disablers and pitfalls: how to fail at getting ahead

13.11.6 Summary for getting ahead

13.12 Two special topics

13.12.1 Special topic 1: Projects whose work is geographically distributed across more than one work site

13.12.2 Special topic 2: Projects that include teams located in multiple countries

13.13 Summary for the social aspects of engineering project management

13.14 Next

13.15 This week’s facilitated lab session

14 Achieving quality

14.1 Defining the term quality

14.2 One motivation for quality: a good reputation

14.2.1 Quality control and audits

14.3 Quality initiatives

14.3.1 6-sigma

14.3.2 ISO-9000

14.3.3 Capability Maturity Model

14.4 Processes for engineering and for project management

14.5 Procurement and subcontracting

14.5.1 Vendor partnerships

14.6 The effects of quality

14.7 The bill of materials

14.8 Your role in all this

14.9 Next

14.10 This week’s facilitated lab session

14 Appendix 1. What distributions actually look like in the real world of engineering projects

15 Applying these ideas in the real world. Ethics in engineering

15.1 Applying these ideas in the real world

15.2 Ethics in engineering

15.2.1 When does bad engineering become bad ethics?

15.2.2 Corrective actions

15.2.3 Conclusions about ethics in engineering

15.3 Thank you