A Guide to Understanding Project Management in Engineering

Aaron Middleton, Automation Experts

Posted 4/11/2024

Project management is widely used in engineering and other sectors to guide business operations and processes successfully. It plays a crucial role in helping organisations to achieve goals and meet expectations. To better understand project management, this guide covers all the essentials.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the planning and organisation of a business’s resources, such as human or financial resources. Effective and efficient project management helps teams and organisations to complete tasks and achieve their goals.

The scope of project management can range from a single, one-off project to ongoing, permanent organisational activities. While project management can be used in various fields, it is widely used in engineering, construction, and healthcare.

While used in different industries, project management jobs are widely the same across each industry. Alongside setting the goals and objectives of projects, project managers will determine the timeframe for project completion and quality control measures for achieving project goals.

Given the expanding scope of project management, there are many opportunities for a role in this specialist area. As more industries use project management, candidates will find more project management jobs through localised searches, such as “project management jobs near me”. 

Senior project managers are responsible for delivering projects within set constraints, such as financial and timeframe targets. Senior project managers are also responsible for project planning, progress tracking, and resolving workflow issues.


Effective project management in engineering has many benefits to the team, business, and customers. Some of the benefits of effective project management include:

  • Greater operational efficiency.
  • Helps businesses to gain a competitive advantage.
  • It helps to provide much more value to customers.
  • Allows a business to stay on target and stick within budgets.
  • Greater customer satisfaction.
  • Reduces the risk of projects failing.
  • Improves productivity and work quality.

Project Management Systems

There are 2 distinct project management systems. The first of these entails the principles or procedures used by an ecosystem to determine a process for project completion. Examples of such principles and procedures include workflows, teams, procedures, and tools.

The other element of project management systems are the smaller parts or elements that form part of an extensive, complex system. Examples of this include any technical platforms a team uses for project completion, such as spreadsheet software, email clients, or specialised applications.


There are 3 different types of project management to enable businesses or teams to meet the needs and goals of specific industries. The 3 types of project management are waterfall, agile, and lean.

Waterfall Project Management

The first type of project management is waterfall. With waterfall project management, before continuing with the next task in the project, this method requires the previous task to be completed first.

As a result, most tasks or steps in waterfall project management follow a linear or progression sequence, flowing in one direction like a waterfall (hence the name). For this reason, timelines play a crucial role.

As the project advances and develops, the size and scope of the team may increase to meet demands, complete tasks, and achieve goals. Tasks will also become much more complex as the project advances.

Agile Project Management

Agile project management is another type of project management. First used in computer software, agile project management focuses on continuously monitoring and improving goods and services. This project management type originates from the Agile Manifesto 12 core principles.

Fundamentally, agile project management provides customer value through high-quality goods and services. Adapting to business circumstances and effective team interactions also contribute towards delivering customer value.

Agile project management has no sequential process or approach, unlike waterfall. Each project phase is completed parallel to one another by multiple team members within the same organisation. This makes identifying and addressing errors much easier.

Lean Project Management

The other type of project management is lean project management. Lean focuses on providing value to customers using the least possible resources. As a result, lean project management seeks to avoid wasting resources.

Only resources directly contributing to completing the team’s tasks are used during the project. Using a lean project management approach is similar to the lean enterprise production principles.

Project Management Lifecycle

All projects will follow the same stages irrespective of the project’s nature, tasks, or organisation, and is referred to as the project management lifecycle. Successful and effective project management will require an understanding of this lifecycle.

Every lifecycle stage will also present individual problems, stakeholders, and deliverables. Project managers must be adept at navigating or overcoming such factors to ensure a project’s success. The stages in the project management lifecycle are as follows:

1. The Initiation Phase

The first phase of the project management lifecycle is the initiation phase. At this stage, the goal is to define the project and develop the business case for the project. Gaining approval for the project also happens at this stage.

Tasks such as a feasibility test, identifying key stakeholders, and selecting project management tools all happen at this stage.

2. The Planning Phase

The second phase of the project management lifecycle is the planning phase. After gaining approval for the project, a clear and thorough plan needs to be developed to give the project team a guide and goal to work towards. This stage sets all the goals and details for fulfilling organisational requirements.

Tasks such as creating project plans, building workflows, defining goals, developing resource plans, and risk assessment with contingency planning happen at this stage.

3. The Execution Phase

The third phase of the project management lifecycle is the execution phase. The majority of a project’s work happens during this stage. Project deliverables are developed during this stage to monitor project and goal progress. This stage uses most resources, including finances, human resources, and time.

4. The Controlling and Monitoring Phase

The final phase of the project management lifecycle is the controlling and monitoring phase, which happens alongside the execution phase. As a project is underway, project managers should ensure the project is on track to achieve project goals and organisation requirements.

Any changes resulting from unforeseen circumstances or changes in project direction will happen during this stage. Other tasks such as resource management, risk management, project schedule updates, and monitoring project performance will occur at this stage.

With more industries and job sectors utilising project management in their operations, there is a greater need for project managers. A suitable skill set and experience can help candidates gain a successful project management role. With such a growth in project management, there is a much greater demand for project roles in technical recruitment.  


Aaron Middleton

Aaron Middleton is a content creator for Automation Experts, who specialises in Drives, Controls, and Automation technology recruitment. Aaron regularly creates content on technical recruitment for Automation Experts, focusing on manufacturing and engineering.

Picture of Brawley



Join the discussion

Click here to join the Maintenance and Reliability Information Exchange, where readers and authors share articles, opinions, and more.

Get Weekly Maintenance Tips

delivered straight to your inbox