Feb 18, 2020 | 10:18:44

Project Management, as enabler for Engineering Outputs

In recent years, Project Management is becoming the flourishing subject in the development area. Engineering, specially, has used project management for long years in different project management methodologies. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) developed by Project Management Institute (PMI) and PRojects IN Controlled Environments (Prince2) developed by UK government agency Office of Government Commerce (OGC), are well known project management methodologies, who led the discipline for the past decades. But recently, the International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed and launched a new Guidance on project management standard called ISO21500 at the end of 2012G.C. Even though engineering seems the most user for project management, these days, all subjects are utilising Project Management as a standard leadership methodology for delivering tangible output.

The sheer complexity of most engineering projects requires the creation of a detailed plan of action. As an engineer, you are responsible for the integration of design intent, skilled labor and materials into a successful project completion. When designing and building a large project such as a power generation dam, ICT infrastructure implementation, a sports arena or a nuclear submarine the need for a systematic approach to the job is obvious, but projects of any size are more likely to be successful if the design engineering team uses some basic project management tools besides the proper project management practice.

A sound project management plan goes beyond the scheduling of labor, equipment, and materials to provide engineers a means of continuously monitoring the progress of the project. The project management plan also enhances communication among design team members by providing a common set of documentation that lists individual responsibilities and important due dates. The project management plan will contain most of the information needed to generate a project status report, and helps the responsible engineer track and control project constraints.

As per my personal observation, most engineering projects running in our country, Ethiopia, do not seem that they are following the proper project management methodology. Moreover, Engineers only practice the science part of the Project Management and forget to practice the art of it. Due to this fact, most projects are suffering from over-budget, delay, and substandard outputs. The writer of this article believes that the basic cause for this problem is lack of awareness about project management methodology by Engineering Professionals. Therefore, this article tries to describe what proper project management is and required expertise for Project Manager as per the ISO21500 Guide for Project Management and PMBoK 5th Edition.

What is project?

Both, ISO21500 and PMBoK 5th Edition, define Project as “Temporary endeavour” which is undertaken in order to deliver “Unique” product, service and/ or result. In more detail saying, a project is a unique set of processes consisting of coordinated and controlled activities with start and finish dates, undertaken to achieve an objective. Achievement of the project objective requires deliverables conforming to specific requirements, including multiple constraints such as time, cost and resources. Although many projects may be similar, each project is unique as differences may occur in the deliverables provided by the project; the stakeholders influencing the project; the resources used; and the way processes are adapted to create the deliverables. Every project has a definite start and end, and is usually divided into phases. In another term, project can be considered as a means to achieve strategic objective of an organization, community and/ or government.

What is Project Management?

Since project is unique in nature, has multiple constraints under it, and faces multiple uncertainties, unlike general management practice, management of project requires specific set of knowledge, skill, methods, tools and technique. Keeping this in mind, Project management is defined as the application of methods, tools, techniques and competencies to a project. Project management includes the integration of the various phases of the project life cycle. Sometimes it is also considered as Management of Constraint. In previous times, project management was also considers as Moreover, Project management is accomplished through processes. (Refer: Project Management Process section for detail)

The rules of successful project management may be summarized by the Five P’s, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. (Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Project Management Processes and Knowledge Areas

There is disagreement between ISO21500 and PMBoK 5th Edition on the number of process. As per ISO21500 Project management needs to utilize about 39 project management processes, which are grouped in 5 process groups. Unlike to ISO, PMI lists about 47 project management process.

Project management processes to be used during a project as a whole, for individual phases or both. These project management processes are appropriate to projects in all organizations. Project management requires significant coordination and, as such, requires each process used to be appropriately aligned and connected with other processes to facilitate project success. Some processes may need to be iterated to fully define and meet stakeholder requirements and reach agreement on the project objectives.

The PMBOK® and ISO21500 Guide describe the nature of project management processes in terms of the integration between the processes, their interactions, and the purposes they serve. Project management processes are grouped into five categories known as Project Management Process Groups (or Process Groups):

• Initiating Process Group. Those processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.
• Planning Process Group. Those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve.
• Executing Process Group. Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications.
• Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.
• Closing Process Group. Those processes performed to finalize all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase

Both, ISO21500 and PMBoK 5th edition, agrees as there are 10 knowledge area required under project management discipline. Since project is complex and requires unique management approach, these knowledge areas are required to be practiced by the Project Manager.

1. Project Integration Management
2. Project Scope Management
3. Project Time Management
4. Project Cost Management
5. Project Quality Management
6. Project Risk Management
7. Project Human Resource Management
8. Project Communication Management
9. Project Procurement Management
10. Project Stakeholders Management

The processes described above need not be applied uniformly on all projects or all project phases. Therefore, the project manager should tailor the management processes for each project or project phase by determining what processes are appropriate and the degree of rigor to be applied for each process. This should be accomplished in collaboration with the project team and in accordance with the relevant organizational policies
Project Manager
The above three sections attempts what Project and Project Management is and how they are defined. The next and core subject of this article is to know “Who” shall be the Project Manager. If someone has been asked to choose a project manager for Electrical Engineering projects, it is obvious to think from area-specific skills set and assigning an Electrical Engineer as a Project Manager. In the same fashion, if the project is building project, Civil Engineers would come to mind. But unlike that, The Project Manager is a person, who has to have a mix of knowledge, skill (area-specific and Interpersonal), method, tools and techniques.

As per PMBoK, In general, project managers have the responsibility to satisfy the needs: task needs, team needs, and individual needs. As project management is a critical strategic discipline, the project manager becomes the link between the strategy and the team. Projects are essential to the growth and survival of organizations. Projects create value in the form of improved business processes, are indispensable in the development of new products and services, and make it easier for companies to respond to changes in the environment, competition, and the marketplace. The project manager’s role therefore becomes increasingly strategic.

However, understanding and applying the knowledge, tools, and techniques that are recognized as good practice are not sufficient for effective project management. In addition to any area-specific skills and general management proficiencies required for the project, effective project management requires that the project manager possess the following competencies:

• Knowledge— that is what the project manager knows about project management.
• Performance—that is what the project manager is able to do or accomplish while applying his or her project management knowledge.
• Personal— that is how the project manager behaves when performing the project or related activity. Personal effectiveness encompasses attitudes, core personality characteristics, and leadership, which provides the ability to guide the project team while achieving project objectives and balancing the project constraints.


As stated on the above section, the main cause of Engineering Project implementation problem is lack of awareness about the Project Management discipline. Due to this, assignment of the Project Manager, Project Management office organization (PMO), and interaction of PMO with existing business process will not be defined well.
In order to overcome the problem and enhance engineering project deliverables through proven project management methodology government, professionals themselves, project owners and professional association must participate in coordinated way and
1. Adopt ISO21500 as national Ethiopian Standards for project management. Recently I could search for ES/ISO10006:2009 (QUALITY MANAGEMENT - GUIDELINES TO QUALITY IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT) as the only standard which has relation with Project Management from Ethiopian Standards Agency.
2. Enhance the awareness of Engineers about Project Management by short term trainings. In fact most Engineers are involved in project and they fell that they know about project management. But this assumption is wrong.
3. Enhance project owners’ awareness about Project management in order to avoid assignment of non-qualified project manager for their project. Even though the specific-area skill is one of the important skills required by project managers, it is not the only. If the assigned project manager is skilful in its specific area but not having the required additional skill set of Project Management, the person shall be used as subject matter expert in the project. However, if the person is skilful on other project management area and not have the specific area skill can lead the project by utilizing the project subject matter experts available in the project.

1. ISO 21500, Guide to Project Management published by International Standards Organization Oct 2012 (ISO)
2. PMBoK 5th edition, Project Management Body of Knowledge 5th Edition, published by Project Management Institute Dec 2012 (PMI)
3. W. eusworth and T. R. Franks (eds.), 1993, Managing Proiects in Developing Countries, Longman Group UK Limited, England

About the Author
Eng. Endale Mekonnen Demissie, PMP®

Endale is a graduate engineer with M.Sc. Degree in Electrical/ Control Engineering, Certified Project Management Professional from PMI and holder of PMP® and CompTIA Project+ Certified Project Manager, ISFS Certified (Information Security Foundation based on ISO/IEC 27002) and Certified with ITIL®-F one of the IT Service Management framework. He is also a certified implementer of conventional and IP enabled PABX systems. He has also attended 5 different world class management Trainings on Quality Management Systems (QMS), Performance Management, Project Management; more than 14 Different Technical Trainings ranging from IT Administration, Ethical Hacking and Database systems. His work expertise for the last total of 15+ years’ is on Managerial post including Consultancy and Project Management and 4+ years in expert level.

In his professional career, Endale has managed and delivered high scale IT Projects in the country such as Ethiopian Education Network Realization Phase 1 Project, which is to connect the first 6 Ethiopian universities, FDRE Document Authentication and Registration Office online document re-verification project, News Management system for 17 zone offices of Oromia information system. He has also led the Banking Software Selection and Implementation Project of Construction and Business Bank S.C. On top of project management, he had served UNDP/ICT as individual consultant in order to consult Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to connect to WoredaNet on behalf of UNDP. He had also consulted UNIDO on the first AU-UNIDO-BRASIL Bio fuel conference in organizing and conducting the event successfully.

He is also conversant in E-Learning techniques & tools and had also trained more than 160 Telecom Engineers and Technicians on Telecom Engineering under ETTI (Ethiopian Telecommunication Training Institute).

Title : Visual Basic 6.0 Guide Book
Self Training book on Visual Basic 6.0 Programming Language
Publication Date : Feb 28, 1999

Title : Geez Number Calculation
Basic Algorithm for Geez Number Calculation
Publication Date : Jun 2, 2008

Title : Common Mistakes in Computing
Describes what mistakes that computer users are doing commonly. The book is written in both
Amharic and English Languages.
Publication Date : Apr 30, 2009

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