Project management (PM) and systems engineering (SE) are complementary functions, with great benefit from leveraging each other’s strengths in a team environment.
But in actuality, project managers and systems engineers have historically viewed the stakeholder problem entirely from within their own disciplinary perspectives with little or no interaction and collaboration.
Normally, the systems engineer working on a project will plan, monitor, confront risk, and deliver the technical aspects of the project, while the project manager is concerned with the same kinds of activities for the overall project. Because of these shared concerns, at times there may be confusion and tension between the roles of the project manager and the systems engineer on a given project.
Some projects will have more overlap of duties than others. In some cases, particularly for smaller projects, the project manager may also be the lead technical member of the team performing both roles of project manager and systems engineer.
Regardless of how the roles are divided up on a given project, the best way to reduce confusion is to explicitly describe the roles and responsibilities of the project manager and the systems engineer, as well as other key team members. The ideal way to do this is with a Project Management Plan (PMP) and a Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) — key documents used to define the processes and methodologies the project will employ to build and deliver a product or service.
The SEMP is the master planning document for the systems engineering technical elements. It defines SE processes and methodologies used on the project and the relationship of SE activities to other project activities.
The PMP on the other hand is the master planning document for the project and describes all activities including technical activities, which must be integrated and controlled during the life of the program.
The SEMP must be consistent with, and evolve in concert, with the PMP.
But regardless of documents, effective communication between the project manager and the system engineer is essential for mission accomplishment. This communication needs to be established early, and occur frequently.
Resource reallocation, schedule changes, product/system changes and impacts, risk changes — all these and more should be quickly and clearly discussed between the PM and SE.
Systems Engineering Project Management Training
Tonex offers Systems Engineering Project Management Training, a 2-day course intended to enhance knowledge and skills in applying PM and SE processes, techniques, frameworks and practices over the project life cycle. The course focuses on defining, planning and implementing system projects and provides insight for leading and managing project and technical teams.
Who Should Attend
This course is targeted for engineers who are interested in improving their project management skills in a new leadership position or in advance of their first leadership position. Others who can benefit include:
- Project managers
- Project engineers
- Facility engineers
- Operations engineers
- Team leaders and managers who are involved in planning, managing or participating in multidisciplinary projects
Tonex also offers Engineering Project Management Training, a 3-day course where participants learn to recognize the skills you need for the project management, including the ones you already have and need to improve and those you need to develop.
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