You may have read Walt Maclay’s book Highly Successful Engineering Design Projects.  Here is more information to help you become highly successful at managing projects.

Roundup: What makes a great project manager?

Our partners and clients tell us what makes a great project manager. While specific requirements may differ, communications is key.

Why the Last 10% takes 90% of the Time

The final 10% of a project takes more time because You already finished the easy stuff. Next time do the hard stuff first. There are always last minute changes. Understand the trade-offs you have to make to make the changes you want. Your resources are probably over-committed. Team communication may not be clear.

Managing Experts

Engineering Manager: Are you a Boss or a Leader?

The individual contributor faces many challenges in taking on a management role in an engineering organization. This article explores how to become a leader to your engineering team as you transition to your new role.

Celebrating Project Success One Little Win at a Time

Acknowledging and celebrating your accomplishments is important to team-building and building a collaborative culture within your company. This article discusses how simple acts of appreciation create a culture of teamwork, learning and improvement. It also has tips for different ways to thank your team or individual rock stars.

Team Building: Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing

A good overview of Bruce Tuckman’s theory of group development as it applies to product development teams. This article analyzes the relationship between the leader and the team through forming, storming, norming and performing. Today’s cross-functional teams add a fifth stage: adjourning.

5 simple employee motivation strategies

This reprint from the KnowledgeFlow Blog describes a set of strategies for motivating your employees. While these strategies are described as simple, the trick is to build your company culture on these foundations: communication to be understood; politeness; delivering praise in public and punishment in private; inviting employee creativity; and delegation and trust.

Encourage Employees to Try New Things

Drive innovation on your product team by encouraging employees to try new things. Successful strategies for innovation include experiments and rapid prototyping. Better understanding of customer or user constraints by team members also leads to innovative and cutting edge product design.

Managing Risk

What are the greatest risks when managing a product portfolio?

This quick poll about the risks involved in managing your product portfolio is good food for thought examining the risks and tradeoffs you face in balancing your engineering projects.

Risk Management for Component Selection

Managing risk through component selection is critical in product development. There are different considerations depending upon whether the components are leading edge, mature or standard products. This article discusses how to manage risk for different types of components.

Walt Maclay’s advice on electrical and firmware development

Walt Maclay spoke as an expert leader on Engineering Design & Development at the 2018 Silicon Valley Hardware Symposium. This article includes personal tips he shared that were included in Expert Tips from the 2018 Silicon Valley Hardware Symposium, which is available for download from the Production Realization Group website.

Tips to successfully manage product development without a technical background

To manage the development of a technical product without a technical background is challenging. This article provides important tips for that “non-technical” business owner or team leader who is responsible for the product development of a technical product for the first time.

Communication

How to Effectively Communicate Product Development Risks

Communication is key the relationship between the technical consultant and the client. This article presents 6 communication strategies to use to ensure that you are effectively communicating product development status and any known risks to your client.

Walt Maclay on Dealing with Unpleasant Surprises

In this article, Walt Maclay demonstrates how using a regular cadence of status reports with clients limits the negative impact of unforeseen risks or “unpleasant surprises.” Communicating status and risk early establishes an open and honest relationship with the client and allows for the opportunity to work together to limit additional costs and mitigate risk.

10 questions to ask your electrical design engineer

Ask your Electrical Design Engineer these ten questions to help assess project risk and better manage your project. These questions can help break down a complicated and highly technical project to simpler, manageable terms. If your Electrical Design Engineer can provide answers in simple terms, you establish better communication, better risk management and stronger overall project management.

More Fun Stuff

Monster Projects

A pointer to a fun blog about monster projects, that is “Projects

[that] are poorly defined, with unclear goals and misaligned strategic priorities.” The blog provides a formula for the difficulty index of the monster project based on the number of stakeholders, the complexity and the clarity of the project. Using the difficulty index and its components, the author discusses “survival tactics” for each of the ten Monsters.