Global Material Handling System Integrators

The Art of Project Management

the-art-of-project-managementProject management is more or less the art of making things happen, or moving a project forward to completion. Sounds simple enough, right? We all wish that were the case anyway! Even simple projects can quickly turn complex with delays in supplier shipments, installing a system during a customer's operating hours, sourcing miscellaneous hardware in an unfamiliar area, handling issues with working dynamics between multiple sub-contractors, etc. I have been involved in multiple projects, which I felt would go smoothly, only to quickly find out that the proverbial "Murphy" decided to step in, mix things up, and make things more interesting. It's during times like these that one's project management skills are put to the test. I'm blessed to have a strong team that embraces the "whatever it takes" mentality when it comes to project execution. I am reminded of a recent project in which the system installation was delayed due to sudden and unplanned supplier manufacturing delays. As a result, the mechanical and electrical installation and controls programming were compressed into what seemed an unachievable timeframe. In addition, our hands were tied during regular hours as the customer needed to process orders for their customers. Resources were allocated and overnight shifts were planned seven days a week. My senior field engineer and I even turned wrenches ourselves to provide some relief for the installers who continuously burned the midnight oil. In the end, we pulled through and had the system go-live prior to the feverish volume of the holiday shopping season. Ultimately, the ability to adapt to such a situation and revise even a well-crafted project schedule is an important skillset needed when managing a project. Aside from the upfront necessities of adequate project planning, scope management, and resource allocation planning, a project manager's interpersonal and behavioral skillset come into play as their style of management and leadership abilities can mean the difference in a project succeeding or failing. A great number of soft skills are critical to have in one's project management tool box including:
  • effective communication skills (oral, written, and non-verbal)
  • conflict resolution and negotiation skills
  • ability to influence others
  • ability to delegate to others
  • coaching and mentoring skills
Couple these with strong perseverance and a "can-do" attitude, and you have the traits of a good project manager. Bastian has taken several steps to ensure we successfully implement what we design for our customers. We've hired dedicated in-house project managers to serve as single points of contact between the customer and execution team to manage projects, effectively reducing overall project risk while allowing our customer the ability to spend more time focusing on their core business. A dedicated project manager serves to maintain regular communication with the customer, manage (and often juggle) project priorities, and give our customers peace of mind that we will execute according to plan. project-management-instititute-pmiBastian has recently placed a strong emphasis on training our project managers to receive Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This rigorous certification process is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), a collection of processes and knowledge areas globally accepted as best practices within the project management discipline. The certification requires a minimum of 4,500 hours of experience in leading and directing projects in addition to specific project management education. Having undergone a training course myself for the certification process, I can attest that the process provides a solid framework for project managers to build greater competency in their profession. Coupled with years of real world experience, our project managers have the right combination of project management education and soft skills to execute your project successfully from system concept design to completed installation.

Author: Derek Cribley

I have been with Bastian for 20 years. I originally served as a Project Manager and Design Engineer, before being promoted to Manager of the Systems and Controls groups and eventually to my current role, Director of Advanced Technology. I enjoy the fast-paced projects we get involved with and solving our customer's problems with solutions customized to their operations. I am proud of our employees and their dedication to make every project successful for our customers.


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