Lifecycle of a successful engineering project

Any idea, plan or endeavour has to follow a focused path of action in order to come to fruition successfully. This is particularly applicable to an engineering project because from concept to conclusion, control and competency are vital. It’s not like knitting a scarf and finding a hole in it, and then just unravelling the work and fixing the hole, then redoing the scarf.

An engineering project must be properly conceived, designed and executed with as little fault as possible. A completed project has to work safely, provide an efficient end experience, withstand wear, and meet stringent budgetary constraints. It’s not something you can just unravel.

Every project has a beginning, a middle and an end. Within this scope lie several phases – each with their own agendas – which must be effectively processed for the project manager and team to meet their objectives. These phases are referred to as a project’s lifecycle, and can be outsourced at any stage to specialised handling.

The Lifecycle Phases

Initiation/Conceptualisation:

Everything begins with a concept, the idea – the vision. Whether you are initiating a new product or a service, you will need to produce a concept. This is where a solution is envisaged to capture your vision. It’s good to begin with the end in mind. Once the need is identified, development options can be put forward for discussion and examination. Perhaps many plans will be drawn up to begin with – and slowly honed down to what is practical and possible, and which will prove the most effective solution.

Feasibility:

The go-ahead on a project depends on the feasibility study. This should include all the options and budgetary constraints. A feasibility study is conducted to investigate whether each option addresses the project objective and if a suitable outcome can be reached on budget and on time. Once a decision has been approved, a project manager is appointed and a project team selected. Or if the project is being outsourced, it may go through a tendering process to find the right company to handle the project at the right price.

Preliminary Engineering:

This can only begin once the various alternatives have been reviewed, and the best option chosen, and funding obtained. The preliminary investigations have produced a final report, and a decision has been made of what to build and how to build it. Pros and cons are evaluated. Most engineering projects involve the creation of a new product or the re-production of an existing one, and the project is defined on that basis.  Cost, quality, and established engineering criteria are all evaluated.

Planning:

This is a more detailed look at the solution and what will be needed to reach objectives successfully. Tasks, labour, materials, costs and timeframes are identified and evaluated within budget in order to create a development strategy. Stakeholders, risk management, communications are all established, along with all details, targets and control measures. The project is now ready to be executed through design and delivery management.

Detailed Design:

Once all engineering analyses are completed, detailed designs can begin and a final set of drawings and specifications decided upon; accurate drawings, specifications, and other design documentation is presented for the project.

Procurement:

This aspect is vital to meeting budget and time frames. Procurement must be cost-effective, aligned with construction, and streamlined for commissioning and efficient operations.

Implementation/Execution:

This is the stage at which construction or implementation of work begins. Engineers will be responsible for seeing that the work engages effectively and that the final product will adhere to the agreed design. Control and communication is vital at this point as there are usually constructability issues that require addressing. Progress must be continuously monitored and appropriate adjustments made where necessary to keep faith with the design – or any modifications that might be considered necessary. Progress must be reported through regular team meetings, and any updates stringently and regularly communicated. Deliverables must meet all accepted criteria.

Testing and Commissioning:

Once the execution phase is complete, the final product is tested and commissioned.  This is where site safety, budget management, supplier co-ordination and schedule maintenance requirements are met. This is where all you have worked for comes together to promote a timely and efficient start-up to be driven efficiently and with maximum lifetime performance.

Post-Construction/Closing:

Once the product is complete, the final documentation phase is required to ensure that all stakeholders have the documents they need. Project funding and administration issues are finalised and archived. The key function here is to hand over a geared-up system / product / service to the client, thus terminating supplier contracts and officially closing the project.

A feedback meeting may be held, reviewing what went well and what didn’t. This information is filed for future projects, all lessons learnt, adding to knowledge and information and continually improving the project team’s capabilities.

Get in Outsource Engineers to handle your project

Imagine you could take your pick from a dream stable of just about every kind of engineering resource available at a moment’s notice. OutEng offers just that. Comprising a network of trusted, experienced and highly skilled engineers, project managers and technical people, including ECSA registered engineers in almost every discipline, all our engineers are freelancers or contractors who are contracted in per job as their skill is required. Each operates as an independent Business Unit, therefore covering own overheads (working from home or over weekends or remotely).

OutEng is setting new trends and standards in an agile, trust-based business style that is taking the engineering environment by storm. Across a multitude of cost-effective engineering and project services, you can expect:

  • solid expertise and experience
  • a unique combination of design, project management and engineering capability
  • well-informed professionals who are up to date with the latest research.

To find out more, visit: www.outeng.co.za

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