Project management

The management of the Rather Large Enterprise (RLE) were a pretty shrewd bunch of people. They realised that while their team of dedicated engineers had successfully designed numerous market-leading products over the years, they were no longer able to keep up with the speed of developments in the increasingly specialised fields of electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering.

To complicate matters, the company’s competition were eating into its profit margins by farming out a lot of their highly specialised work to smaller third parties who were more able to quickly take advantage of new technologies, incorporating them into their products and bringing them to market in a much shorter timeframe.

So the company management decided to take a similar approach and called in its devoted team of engineers to brief them on the changes that they were to make. Being a wily bunch of folks, the management realised that their plan to action might not sit too well with some of their engineers who obviously got a lot of enjoyment from the practical day-to-day work of designing and developing new products.

So to sweeten the deal, the management came up with a cunning plan and informed the several senior electrical, electronic and mechanical engineers that they were to be promoted to new roles in the company as project managers.

As such, they would be responsible for defining the specifications of the key elements in any new system, and then selecting and working with third parties and each other to ensure that the new parts met their requirements and would work seamlessly when integrated into any system.

Most of the senior design team saw the immediate advantage of the new management methodology and were pleased to accept their new responsibilities. They realised that they would finally be able to take advantage of best-in-class technologies and incorporate them into their products, rather than rely on their own expertise.

But there was one engineer who wasn’t so happy about the whole affair and, rather than accept the new position that was offered to him, decided instead to seek employment at one of the very same smaller specialised suppliers that the company had already outsourced some engineering work to, where he could continue to practise engineering in a hands-on fashion.

For a while, at least, he was happy again. Sadly, however, that did not last, because after a few years in the job, the smaller company also found itself faced with the same dilemma as the larger one – it too discovered that yet more specialised companies were eating into its profit margins.

And so once again, the engineer that had fled from the role as a potential project manager at the larger outfit once again found himself called into a meeting with the somewhat smaller company’s management.

I don’t need to tell you what they wanted to discuss.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Electronicstalk

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