Project Management Spotlight - Manufacturing Electrical Connectors
Contributed by Bruce Nadeau, PMP, LSSGB
(reprinted with permission - originally published April 2018)
As a Project Management Professional employee for Burndy, a company that manufactures electrical connectors, I've been working with their customer service team for the past two years. My work includes process improvement planning, coordinating training of new personnel, developing and tracking sales leads generation, and leading Burndy’s Strategic Objective Action Project to update newly hired sales staff. I have also worked as a project manager in the medical manufacturing industry where I worked on design, development, manufacture, and implementation of new medical product launches.
Although I am familiar with all five phases of the Project Management process (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing), at Burndy my focus is on executing projects. In my experience, companies look for the project results and often spend little to no time on initiating and closing. I try to dedicate time in the planning phase to prevent issues from arising later in the process. Sometimes, companies need to be reminded that the planning phase is a critical step in the process and should not be rushed.
As a communicator, I interact mostly by email but also communicate in face to face meetings, phone and conference calls. I serve as the main point of contact for the project and report project status and progress to senior management. I also serve as a mentor to junior employees or other members of the team not familiar with project management philosophies, tools, techniques and procedures.
In manufacturing, challenges include working with change, the push for instant results, and team engagement. Working with change is a major challenge as people and organizations are typically set in their ways. The need and want for instant results is also something that is a constant struggle. Getting and maintaining team engagement is a constant challenge for Project Managers. Let's face it, if there wasn't a need for change in an organization, then there would be far less call for Project Managers.
Many companies advertise for a Project Manager, but what they are really looking for is an engineer to develop the project. They fail to understand that to effectively manage a project it is necessary to separate engineering subject matter experts from an individual leading the project and the team.
My advice to Project Managers is to stay focused and remain current with your certifications. I'd say today, more than ever before, companies are looking for project managers to be experienced as well as to hold PMP certifications.
Keep working with proven problem-solving methods and do not get complacent or discouraged. Don't be afraid to report the "ugly" truth so that it can be addressed and resolved. Concealing negative results or situations serves no positive function and is counterproductive to the project. Not every project will be a success and not all will be on budget, on time or on scope. It is how you deal with change and controversy that defines the type of project manager you are and the ultimate success of your projects.
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