Project management

Growing Role of Project Management Skills in an Intelligent Manufacturing Environment-Dr. Srini Srinivasan

A disruption within a company is often unexpected and can disrupt its proper functioning. Changes in a business can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as innovation across industries, changes in business models, changes in business structure, or the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. These changes, planned or not, most often lead to an urgency to adapt. This gave rise to what we all call the smart manufacturing model or the Industry 4.0 revolution. Through this process, employees can automate controls, modeling, and data analysis to improve manufacturing efficiency. Smart manufacturing is an opportunity to create new business value and dismantle the current manufacturing value chain by injecting the appropriate technology. This new model of value creation opens the way to a myriad of opportunities for innovation and also encourages organizations to be much more agile.

Although smart manufacturing can optimize efficiency and productivity, it is imperative that project managers understand how to extend the capabilities of production, machines and people. By identifying and reducing lost or underutilized areas, project managers provide opportunities for growth without investing in additional financial or physical resources.

According to the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession®: Beyond Agility 2021 report, the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to high-performing agile enterprises, which are organizations that combine structure, form and governance with the ability to adapt and rotate on demand. These companies focus more on results than process and empower all of their employees to drive change by developing a holistic portfolio of skills. 71% of gym companies reported productivity gains in 2020 compared to 53% of traditional companies, according to the report. To work in the “new system of work” in the post-pandemic era, heavily impacted by digital transformation, adopting a “gymnastics” approach will separate the leaders from the laggards. These organizations and their employees will be able to improve productivity, respond to the unprecedented, and execute successfully on demand.

To be able to continue to be agile and stay afloat in the world of smart manufacturing 4.0, it is important to have project managers who not only have the technical skills, but also understand the business dynamics that can help them stay in head, resilient and open to change.

A good example here is Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions where the company combines electronics, including high-level computing platforms with algorithms to identify objects, with software to operate vehicles autonomously . Such work, which is an integration of technology with engineering and other aspects of innovation, requires project managers who have the ability to understand not only the technical aspect, but also the know-how of work with diverse teams around the world and understand the dynamics of the business. which brings together technology, engineering, innovation, design and many other aspects.

To be the project manager of the future and complete the Industry 4.0 revolution, project managers need to deepen their knowledge and consider some of the following areas to improve their skills and stay ahead of the game

Technical know-how
Among technical skills, the ability to assess the type of technology that might be needed within the organization is crucial. In addition to listing compelling reasons to perform something, appropriate project plans or program plans should be organized. In addition, it is also important to be able to manage a multitude of technical suppliers who bring technological capabilities to the company. Finally, an understanding of cloud technology, IoT, IATA, artificial intelligence, etc. is necessary to be able to bring an organization into the 4.0 domain.

Business acumen
This means the ability to understand the business aspects of the projects being managed, including customer requirements and corporate language. A project manager should be able to help lead the transition from project to product. Emphasis should be placed on developing key skills to become a product project manager. In this case, budgeting will focus more on the value streams and business value that this project or product is expected to achieve. Timelines will be focused on the product lifecycle itself, not specific milestones. Therefore, it will be a profit center approach, not a call center approach.

Collaborative feat
It is the ability to be able to lead through collaboration to bring multiple stakeholders into the smart manufacturing environment. The number of stakeholders will always increase exponentially because not only the company has internal stakeholders (i.e. employees) but also external stakeholders including customers, customer organizations and some other external agencies, technology partners and competitors with whom the collaboration will arise in a specific situation. After the COVID-19 pandemic, using collaborative problem-solving skills will be a competitive advantage. Take the example of how vaccines were developed to deal with COVID-19. Many scientists have come together, aggregated their own data sources into a common dataset, and then used it to learn how to extract the most important insights for vaccine development, using tools like AI and machine learning. This development has never been seen before, and this type of rapid, collaborative development will become the “new normal.”

Business agility
As a project manager, in crisis situations or in need of immediate attention and maximum potential, practicing flexibility and agility is of the utmost importance. Amid the pandemic, Johnson Controls won a major $9 billion order from the US government to set up 40 pop-up hospital sites for the treatment of COVID-19 across the US in 20 days. Johnson Controls was able to do this on time, on budget and meeting all of the client’s requirements. At the height of the pandemic, working with the Indian government, the Philips Foundation, Prosus, the Johnson Foundation and the Johnson & Johnson family of companies reconfigured their entire manufacturing process to make 800 ventilators available for the aid to COVID-19 in India. It would be a good example of agility.

Knowledge of the field around decision sciences
Traditional project management techniques usually don’t work very well on deep science projects. There is a significantly higher amount of innovation, data that needs to be analyzed, and discoveries that need to be made in deep science projects. A project manager must have knowledge of decision sciences to carry out the project well.

In summary, Industry 4.0 or smart manufacturing is revolutionizing businesses. Not all organizations can simultaneously have a whole range of modern technologies in the manufacturing process. Many organizations would consider a phased approach to their future state, built over time. Another key aspect is learning the current state of the business and the ideal state it wants to achieve. Organizations need to be able to assess the things that are being done now, identify opportunities for improvement, and then try to gradually integrate them based on the ideal 4.0 state that is defined. This process requires a careful transition from the old to the new. This requires a skill-up of the community of project professionals to embrace change and adapt quickly to add value and equip themselves to accelerate the industrial revolution.

Warning: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise indicated, the author writes in a personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be taken to represent the official ideas, attitudes or policies of any agency or institution.

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