Project Management and Team Leadership

Complex systems require a holistic development approach to ensure a successful outcome. The experience that I have gained by working in different sectors, with different teams and in different fields allows me to understand the importance of each development discipline and how it relates to each other.

It is almost impossible to face a product where there is only one field of expertise required to design it. More likely there are many aspects to be considered, from regulatory to manufacturing and from interaction design through fluid dynamics engineering.

The key for a successful project management is to understand the interactions and interdependencies between each discipline and team members to ensure that communication is clear and fluid. This works not only when leading an internal team, but also when different companies, contractors and teams are involved in one project. It is also crucial when this teams work in different countries with different time zones and languages.

The more complex systems where I work are medical devices, where we I have lead and managed whole development programmes from concept thorough industrialization including verification, validation and technical file compilation. In these projects, the devices have often been electro mechanical devices, where software, electronics and mechanical engineering need to operate side by side along with interaction and industrial design. On top of it there is the regulatory, human factors and risk management activities that have to be conducted.

When leading and managing such team, is not only about following a plan on a gant chart and updating costs. It requires a good technical understanding of the challenges that lay ahead and people management to ensure that the team understands and feels comfortable with theirresponsibilities.

 

Project management


Planning

Although I don’t consider it the most important aspect of project management and team leading, planning is important as it lays out the strategy of how the objectives will be met and the budgets required. In reality plans always change and need to adapt as better understanding of the challenges and potential budget constrains arise. Plans have to be shared and easy to understand for the team to have everyone on board on how their responsibilities affect the project.

A key aspect of good planning is to de-risk. This means to understand what could affect the outcome of the project and product and ensure that this aspects are tackled as they emerge and as they can be evaluated. Each product entails different risks and challenges, the key is to be able to evaluate them and concentrate efforts on solving the most critical ones first to then solve the ones that will not have severe consequences. The reason behind prioritizing risks is that usually resources are limited and often risks will emerge as the technology and product iss refined.


Technical grasp

I have worked in many projects where leaders and managers lack technical understanding of the product that is being developed. In all this experiences this has led to wrong assumption and decisions that delayed projects and had expensive consequences. The reason behind this is that with a lack of technical knowledge it is very difficult to assess challenges. The result is that resources and emphasis is prioritized in aspects that do not require it, leaving key technical and design development unattended.

My technical and design experience has allowed me to gauge technical challenges and be able to identify considerable challenges when they emerge and prioritize resourcess accordingly.   

Communication

In my opinion, here is where good project management stands out. A great leader with a fantastic plan and great technical knowledge often fails on delivering projects in time and budget with outstanding results due to miscommunication issues.  Communication is not about sharing all the information with everyone, as this overloads everyone, but sharing the right amount at the right time. There is no recipe to follow as each project, team and challenge requires a different approach. It has to be gauged specifically and monitor that that every party has the right amount of input they require. 

Leadership

Each member or party on a project team has their own agenda, their on drivers, motivations, expectations and objectives. If as a leader and manager you are able to understand them, it is easier to align those with the overall project to gain the most of each member and encourage everyone to give more than the minimum requirement. Innovation only happens when teams are encouraged to make a change or find better solutions to a problem. Breakthrough designs will only happen when people are allowed to challenge themselves and try different things without risk of failing.

As simple as it may sounds, but often this motivations come out in coffee conversations, dinners or when travelling. It is important to keep an open mind and listen to everyone on the team to understand where they stand and how to empower everyone to produce outstanding results.


Manage Expectations

Clients and managers always want three things; cheap, fast and good quality. And often are persuaded that it is possible to have them all. However the reality is that all of these three don’t often come together. In my career I have always prioritized quality, then speed and lastly cost. This will result on an outstanding product at an attractive cost to the consumer in the right time to market. But in many cases, development resources are scarce and require an intelligent approach to be able to balance time to market and quality to meet the stakeholder expectations. It is important to be upfront about the possibilities to be able to meet client’s expectations.

 

 

Being part of your team

I collaborate with different companies and teams and can undertake full responsibility of a development programme of work or specific work packages either as a contract or consultant Project manager or as a Systems Engineer. I quickly immerse in the companies way of work and can help producing plans, developing strategies and oversee projects.

Find out more on how I work or get in touch

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