Remember when engineering project tracking was so backbreaking? The men in this video below illustrate perfectly. Back then, they had nothing but spreadsheets and a project scheduler. No awesome timesheet, no time tracking apps on smartphones, no PM charts and graphs. If you've ever tried to manage engineering projects like that, you know it's bone wearying work.
Think of swinging picks at in a big hole for twelve hours a day.
"No more backbreaking project management"
But there are newer project tracking apps in the modern world. And newer ideas about how to them. Don't break your back on scraps of paper and spreadsheets. Watch the video, then scroll down.
Actual conversation with an engineering director:
We're using spreadsheets for engineering hours. Somebody types them in after interviewing each engineer. We can't break projects down into tasks because the verbal conveyance of information is just too much. So we want something where the actual engineers enter their own time, and that can be used for client invoicing.
Why not use a professional database like SQL Server to hold all the project and task information, and use a profesisonal timesheet and task management system?
"Sounds reasonable to me"
"Sign us up"
That's literally how many conversations go. Engineering directors are completely fed up with home-grown solutions and spreadsheets, and are defecting by the boat load. Where are you in that cycle?
How to set up projects for engineers
Consider breaking your engineering project into phases, subsystems, subprojects first. That gives you separate numbers for each section. But don't go crazy right off the bat. Keep it simple. Under each phase, create just a few tasks so engineers know the best place to enter hours. Allow engineers to create their own tasks, mark older ones complete, or consolidate others. Engineers like to self-manage as long as it doesn't eat up a lot of time.
Now you're going to get some real numbers.
"We got everything we needed"
Boss 1: Our 20 story skyscraper is the biggest engineering undertaking in modern times
Boss 1: Remember when workers used spreadsheets to track time?
Boss 2: I’m glad we modernized with Standard Time®
Boss 2: Project management was so backbreaking
Boss 1: Now we have apps on every phone to collect actuals
Boss 1: And task linking, and resource allocation graphs
Boss 2: And project triangles for instant snapshots of project health
Boss 2: Can’t imagine doing things the old way!
Boss 1: Are the wheelbarrows on order from the Amazon?
Boss 2: Be here in a month.