As an engineer who has also taken on the role of project manager, it is easy to fall into the pattern of stagnant management styles. This is especially true for those who have received training in their places of work but have not received formal training to receive a project management certification. Project management is much more than what one may pick up from previous managers and trial and error. To be the best project manager possible, you have to understand there is a compatibility between your engineering role and leadership—things you learn from a formal project management study. The following are project management principles that will ultimately benefit any engineer.
1. Build a framework. The basics of project management are the same every time, therefore, you should have a “templated” idea in your head of how you are going to manage every project. For example, the tasks that seem to take place over and over during a project don’t necessarily need to be started from scratch each time. Because project management can seem a very repetitive task, having a set protocol in place will save you time and energy, as you won’t have to recreate steps as you go.
2. Remain consistent. While the framework gives you the structure, following it for each project will give you consistency. Over time, you will become consistent in the way you manage projects, making the people you work confident in you as a project manager and your ability to organize, execute, and deliver successfully.
3. Acknowledge your environment. Over time in the engineering field, you may begin to notice project managers vary widely in their professionalism. The benefits of a formalized project management study are sometimes not viewed as a necessity. Having a framework and remaining consistent can be a major career enhancer, as some project managers may not follow those principles. You will begin to stand out from other managers and engineers because your skills will help you remain an effective team leader.
4. Assess the risks. Risks come with every project, whether it’s with structural, mechanical, or electrical design. With a formal project management study, you will learn there is a formalized way to effectively assess risks. Developing the skill to assess risks, then determining mitigation steps is beneficial to helping you throughout your engineering career.
5. Continue to develop your skills. Continuously learning new technical material can help strengthen your engineering skills; enhancing those skills with a project management study and certification can make them even more relevant. You may hear from both sides of the spectrum whether it is worth it to get your project management certification, but in the end, think of it like pursuing your P.E. license. Do you want to state to the world that you are a professional, a dabbler, or an amateur?
Gausman & Moore encourages all engineers to partake in project management studies and earn certifications to better understand the role and constantly grow their skills. We also offer all employees various other certifications and leadership training to help build future leaders. Visit our Careers page to learn more about leadership training and possible career advancement opportunities. Be the professional you are capable of being in your engineering career.