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Engineering News

Thursday, 07 December 2017

Project management: latest trends and global standards

Project management: latest trends and global standards

A sound understanding of project management best practice will ensure an engineer can confidently contribute to a project’s success.

Project management has become a cornerstone of an engineer’s skillset in many industries and its application should reflect the latest trends in global best practice.

Dr Ross Yates, a project management expert and educator for Engineering Education Australia who has delivered a range of projects across the mining, not-for-profit, education and health care sectors says project management is a constantly evolving profession.

“Practitioners need to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date to ensure they are using best practice methodologies and tools to deliver projects successfully”, Dr Yates said.

“To reflect the evolving trends that have proven successful across the profession, the Project Management Institute has updated its global standard and released a sixth edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) in 2017.”

Some of the trends that have formed part of the revision include sharing project knowledge, differentiating communicating with stakeholders from communications, the inclusion of agile (adaptive) project management, and complete resource management.

Dr Yates also mentioned a change in project management thinking, such as a move away from 'time management' to 'monitoring time' in scheduling, recognising that the concept of time cannot actually be 'managed'.

Other shifts include a focus on engaging with stakeholders rather than stakeholder management, and recognition from organisations that project managers are key drivers of business goals and organisational change.

A trend Dr Yates has noticed is that the project management community is moving towards is the use of technology to improve the sharing of information and knowledge and for collaborative activities which underpin the contemporary project management landscape.

“Managing global projects and geographically dispersed teams has typically been difficult for the project manager, with challenges such as language and culture barriers as well as different time zones and methodologies”, Dr Yates said.

“Although it is not ground-breaking technology, the use of virtual meetings is a popular way to manage stakeholder engagement, make decisions in a timely manner, reduce miscommunication and to maintain standardised governance and documentation.

“Projects are also more likely to be successful when collaborative software and tools are used.”

This type of technology ensures documentation can be updated in real-time, helping to control project quality, mitigate risks and keep projects moving forward.

Much of an engineer’s work on a project involves dealing with schedules, assuring quality and identifying and mitigating risks.

“A sound understanding of and an ability to apply best practice project management principles will help engineers overcome these challenges and confidently contribute to a project’s success”, said Dr Yates.

Engineering Education Australia’s Project Management Essentials short course has been updated to reflect the changes to the Project Management Institute’s PMBoK 6. This course can be completed as a stand-alone short course or as part of a nationally-accredited Project Management qualification designed for engineers at a Certificate IV or Diploma level delivered by Engineering Education Australia's wholly owned subsidiary, The Moreland Group (RTO #6332).

Dr Ross Yates is a facilitator of Project Management Essentials and the project management qualifications.