Ten Tips to Doing Right the First Time

By IBT Inc

October 01, 2005

Engineering

Managing the process of any complex job can be a bear. Failing to manage it, however, can make a nightmare seem like a welcome respite. The key is to start out on top of things and stay on top of them, all the way through.

Of course, there are no assurances that even the best management of the process will guarantee smooth sailing. Stuff happens, and usually when and where you least expect it.

But one thing in life is reasonably sure: If you don’t manage a process, you will probably live to regret your lack of total diligence.

The Engineering Department at IBT has developed some simple tips for making complicated jobs be reasonably pleasant experiences. The IBT pointers have been accumulated over time, usually from encountering “good examples of bad examples.”

Herewith, their “lessons learned.”

1)   Get good, complete information at the start.
What you don’t know can hurt you, badly. The worst situation is when you don’t know what you don’t know. By developing some standard routines to get all the questions identified and asked – and, one hopes – answered, the likelihood of unpleasant surprises is greatly lessened. (But not eliminated, unfortunately.)

2)   Communicate clearly and frequently.
Information is what will keep you alive. Never stop paying attention, asking questions, and passing on the information that you get. When everybody knows what is happening, the levels of accuracy and efficiency rise. (And conversely.)

3)   Get total buy in.
Life is hard enough. When everybody is not playing for the same team, however, it gets tougher. Make sure that all the people (not just the so-called “important people”) know and understand what is going on – and have been given a chance to contribute and agree. The people who don’t like something when it starts are not likely to have a miraculous change of heart. Make them happy when you start and your life will be easier.

4)   Set up a good, realistic project schedule and live with it.
Nobody ever got in trouble for finishing a job too early. Think about how long the process will take and give your self some wiggle room. If you have been in the business for more than a month, you undoubtedly know that everything takes longer (and costs more) than you have been led to believe. Don’t make your life difficult, plan ahead and build in the time to do it right.

5)   Watch the money closely.
Money, like time, is a critical factor in any project. Just as it is always good practice to stay on schedule, it is especially sound and professional to be able to stick to the budget. When projects go through changes, which they seem to inevitably do, good engineering practitioners make sure that they note the economic impact of those changes – and keep all the relevant parties up-to-date.

6)   Deal with reliable suppliers.
Any engineering project is an assemblage of components. Those components must work individually and work together. They must also be available for use at the exact time needed and specified. By dealing with reliable suppliers, we are able to start out by counting on the performance of both the equipment and the people behind the equipment. When the supplier has been a long-time provider, our ability to get them to come through for us under all circumstances – including above and beyond the call of normal duty – is that much more strongly in our favor.

7)   Have depth of organization.
Bench strength wins ball games. Having an organization with people who can back-up the group – and who bring a variety of skills and experiences to any given situation – is always a plus. Different backgrounds, diverse professional disciplines and cross-trained staff make strong teams. The old saying says it all: “All of us are smarter than any of us.”

8)   Think long term performance.
Projects are put in place for long-term benefit to the client. Our work must be strong on concept, strong on performance, strong on reliability, strong on efficiency, strong on durability and strongest of all on value – today, tomorrow and in the long run. Our reputation is on the line each and every day that the client relies on our work. And, delivering at a level that goes beyond expectations helps assure our future success.

9)   Consider the total situation and supply a total solution.
It is in the nature of client organizations to seek a specific fix for a specific problem at this specific time. However, it is always a good idea for an engineering team to ponder the immediate impact that the “fix” will have on the system that is being effected, to consider the unintended consequences and to look beyond the short term to prevent future problems. Fixing one part of an operation, only to stress another, is the frequent consequence of not examining a problem and its solution in sufficient depth and detail. In addition, doing a total analysis can build the confidence the client places in us, while laying the groundwork for subsequent projects and a long-lasting relationship.

10)   Love what you do.
Days can be long. Hills can be tall. Challenges can be daunting. Frustrations can be, well, frustrating. If you are not totally involved, invested and committed to your vocation, your team and the project, why are you there?

To learn more about IBT Engineering services, contact us.

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