IIE Los Angeles

IE Talk: Project Management Talk Summary

There are Industrial Engineers who are project managers and consulting for small and large businesses. In a master’s program at USC, Project Management (PM) is one of the courses taught. Knowing PM is an important IE tool as well.

The PM framework from the Project Management Institute (PMI) help any individuals going into consulting and focusing on project management to stay focused and on task as they balance scope, time, cost and budget. Unlike what was emphasized from the presentation, we as Industrial Engineers are more inclined to emphasize quality first or doing the right thing at all cost if we have our ways. We need to build up, maintain, integrate or improve any systems/processes with quality as the focus to help drive down delivery time and cost (TPS).  In reality though, we have to deal with the real world that quality can be costly. Hence, we, like the project managers, need to balance time, cost and quality.

Dr. Eli Tabesh was a speaker at an event with NIPOC last March 3, 2016. It was attended by IIE members and non-members alike. She has been a project manager for years and she gladly shared her lessons as a project manager with her audience.

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On Approaching the Project:

According to Dr. Tabesh, project manager starts with data analysis to understand the problem. It is also imperative that one becomes familiar with the industry of focus, to get some training and to get support from other department to be familiar with the environment.
Project manager is a juggler and ties time, scope, budget and quality. There are multitude of challenges, namely
scope ambiguity, the need to manage and control certain level of detail as well as the multi-project and competing resources environment.

On Standardization:

Certainly, like any problem, the approach depends on the type of problem or in this case, project. PM methodologies depends on the project. She highlighted her experience with startups and find that startups are challenging in that “they do not have things in order because they are just starting.” Dr. Tabesh worked on standardizing their processes. In her role as project manager at a startup, she “puts in the process in writing for audit purposes.”

Other PM methodologies she applied in the pasts are the following (Project Management Institute):
• Agile – This is for small goals that are monitored closely and reporting is daily.
• Scrum – This is different from agile. It is time defined and popular in system design.
• Rapid application development – This is good with research and development (R&D) environment.
• System developing life cycle – Commonly used with government contracts and involves heavy documentation.
• Gate process – This is also good for R&D environment, new product, innovation management, service request management, merger acquisition, procurement, or IT project. It uses decision value management & gates to deliver efforts.

On Tools and Techniques:

Here are some of her common once:
• Project dashboard
• Reports
• Project summary sheet
• Project review sheet
• Project deliverables (used by PM Office; streamlining templates)

Dr. Tabesh refers to the PMI as her source for all project management tools and networking.

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