Managing by projects in a manufacturing industry – where to start from?

The approach of managing the projects has been, for many years already, a part of strategy of large enterprises and international corporations. This methodology assumes to break down a long-term strategic plan into a smaller tactical goals and objectives, that are executed as a projects within a planning horizon of one to three years.

What if you are a part of a small or medium-sized enterprise with a plan to start managing by projects, and you are not sure where to start from? Below are a few useful tips!

First of all: I warmly congratulate this decision! The approach of managing by projects allows your organization for achieving the defined goals in more efficient and consistent way. Also, by defining the project team including the right specialists, you will be able to conduct the risk analysis and, as a result, avoid costly mistakes at the implementation stage of the project.

How to define the project portfolio for the upcoming year?

Based on the managing by projects approach, we already know that the tactical actions should be a result of company strategy, meaning also a current company direction. Hence, if we assume that our current strategy focuses on environmental impact of production; for example: by decreasing the amount of scrap and electricity consumption – this types of projects should be included in our portfolio.

Do our projects can also refer to law or industry change of regulations, or new customer requirements?

Yes, definitely. A good example can be: the implementation of quality management system in compliance to ISO 9001 standard; or elimination of plastic parts in consumer package initiated by customer request. In both cases the project will be executed based on specific goals, rooted in time (has the beginning at a distinct point in time, and finishes at predefined date), including complexity of tasks (resulting from sequence of related activities) and creates an unique result.

What about production process improvement projects?

It is also recommended to include this type of projects into our portfolio. Process improvement projects are the ones, that not always come from the company strategy. They are very often a result of reoccurring production issues, customer complaints, increasing manufacturing costs or lead time.

How to manage all groups of projects effectively?

The easiest way is to include the key information about each project (such as: goal, timeline, resources, project status in terms of time and budget) in one place – this can be a special software or just excel file. It is also recommended to organize the project status meetings at different levels of organization in the monthly, quarterly, and annual cycles. As a result, you will be able to manage the portfolio of projects in an efficient way; and be able to modify them fast in response to new customer requirements, law regulations and market situation.

How the project management concept works in your company? What are the most common challenges you deal with?

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