Becoming a project engineer goes hand in hand with being a good project manager.
Engineers help build structures through accurate technical reading. Project managers facilitate the design-build-operation process by managing people.
What makes the two so distinct yet very similar? Their purpose—which is to put their individual strengths toward project completion. Managing the technical and people side of the business isn’t a skill honed overnight; a project engineer jumps through many hoops to assimilate a strong culture of caring into tight bottom lines.
Project management in engineering is a growing discipline where engineers apply project management techniques to better manage their role on site.
Responsible for product design, engineers prepare detailed sketched and engineering reports after reviewing drawings built by architects to ensure compliance with code and client specifications. Enormous technical detail and support go into materializing the final design, which creates an equally big room for errors if consistency and accuracy are affected.
The bid-to-win ratio of construction contracts has diminished over the past two decades, where in the pre-financial crisis era more projects would be up for auction to a select few contractors in local areas. Today, the sheer growth in construction activity has also generated a parallel growth in the number of contractors, except now those that are digitally inclined bring more business due to the cost and time saved in managing bids vis-à-vis manual processes.
The reality can be improved by turning a fresh leaf in the way project engineers approach contracts. For aspiring engineers looking to join large construction firms as project engineers, mapping out your career doesn’t have to be daunting. Procore informs of the many aspects of project engineering to help you make a well-informed decision. In its essence, good project engineering draws from a good education as an essential first step. If you’re at the crossroads of choosing to study further, reading this might ease your decision-making process.
Alternatively, those at the crossroads of applying for project engineer jobs often get stumped creating resumes; this post could inspire you to build a compelling application.
Still hanging on to discover tricks to win more construction contracts? We might be onto something.
Project Management for Engineers
How Construction Project Engineers Communicate
PEs work with multiple teams for months until the end of a project. Communication about daily project events helps them collaborate even under pressure—something that young PEs easily give in to before weighing their options to get to an agreeable solution. Construction projects are volatile and that brings ambiguity even to the most thoroughly-planned project items. The superintendent and PE are in close quarters which can lead to as much efficiency as anxiety for PEs to prove themselves on the job. When things don’t go according to plan, PEs can take on more than is reasonably manageable without raising queries, since they may view themselves as seeming incompetent if they raised difficult questions.
This can deter effective teamwork as the focus drifts away from the task on hand to pandering to the perceived interests of the project stakeholders. Hence, it’s always advisable to raise issues when they arise to ensure that everyone involved has enough bandwidth to arrive at a fair solution.
Stabilized communication increases your chance to convey what’s deliverable to a client, resulting in greater accuracy in bid proposals which in turn is likely to improve your winning odds.
How Project Engineers Build Relationships
Project engineers, as already seen, collaborate with a variety of stakeholders. From clients to subcontractor teams, they’re deeply involved throughout the project lifecycle, which requires them to nurture relationships to achieve desired outcomes.
Strong internal relationships determine their success at bidding events since a full and fair estimation of projects enables them to promise only what’s achievable—not what they think the client would want in an effort to outdo their competitors. Setting yourself apart from the competitors is a multi-faceted process, one that needs clarifying what type of work you can do and at a price that beats direct rivals.
If you’re on strong terms with your customers, you can glean valuable insights from their past engagements with contractors to prepare and price your projects accordingly. Many times, bidding at the lowest price isn’t feasible while coming in at a higher price point isn’t entirely risky since you must be on the same page with the client about the value your resources and expertise will deliver.
Avoid speculating on what your client wants. Instead, actively work with them to form a proposal that appears to hit their targets. For instance, you can include a list of past projects showing how you surpassed the schedule and result expectations through pictures of similar projects. Draft a phased schedule of delivery to help your client think about how you intend to complete the project. Aim to include appealing added services to your proposal that prove you can reach your completion date with no pending work and all obligations met.
Onboard a Construction Estimating Software
Using software is yet to become a universal SOP; however, a construction estimating tool is effective to centralize bid information and define workflows to control costs and schedule.
Should your company find value in a digital solution, here’s a comprehensive guide on construction project management software to move to the next level.
Construction bidding software is widely integrated into project management software to cover a variety of activities across project phases. It automates costing jobs and comes with a range of integrations and product support that smoothens tasks from creating drawings to billing clients.
Being a smart data management tool, it regularly notifies users of price fluctuations in the market, labour costs, material supplies, and offers a plethora of bidding resources that come in handy wherever you are in the construction bidding process. The database adapts to the method you use to cost jobs while updating with the incoming market and industry trends.
This minimizes errors and risks and gives contractors, engineers, owners, and clients the confidence to visualize the project to completion.
Lean Construction for Higher Bid Wins
The most viable approach to greater bid wins is to have the lowest possible costs and the most efficient field project management process. Field teams must adopt lean and productive approaches to executing on project design requirements with zero downtime, lags, quality slip-ups, and errors. With everyone managed according to lean construction parameters, your jobsite will function as was laid out during the planning phase. Here are some tactics to help you imbibe lean construction project management:
- Present a realistic proposal
- Onboard digital solutions and show their application
- Offer specialized services
- Offer a complete package of trained staff and value-added engineering services
- Provide proof of being well-financed alongside permits and liability coverage
- Give a walkthrough of a schedule to show faster project completion
- Develop a partnership and promise to do whatever it takes to account for what you’ve proposed
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