Brian Terhune
Successful Project ManagementHow do you keep a project out of the weeds?

Project Management—it’s a part of electronic product development most people would rather not think about, but effective project management can make the difference between a project that goes off the rails and one that smoothly navigates the challenges that come along with innovative design. The key is to practice adaptive project management.

Adaptive project management means recognizing issues as they arise, evaluating and communicating how they may affect the success of the project, and implementing changes as necessary.  This dynamic approach to project management ensures that unforeseen challenges don’t endanger the project schedule and that everyone involved—the design team and the customer—is kept informed of changing realities on the ground.

Successful Project Management is primarily based on 4 key aspects:

Efficient Communication


Why?  Deliverables that are well understood and executed assure project requirements are met on time.

How?  Communication style must vary to each member, not one of us thinks or communicates the same as another.

  • Conduit of information to all team members related to overall project status.
  • Act as a filter in providing the information needed by each team member (Individual basis – Who needs to know what?).
  • Method of communication (email, phone call, meeting, etc.) must suit the desired outcome.
  • Effective and engaging in group presentations and meetings.


Build and Manage the Team

Why?  Creating a collaborative problem solving environment with internal and external team members will leverage everyone’s input to deliver the best solution possible.

How?  All members (internal or external) are key to success, and they all have the same goal.

Each team member needs to be a subject matter expert. They take ownership and are responsible for the success of the project in their respective field.

  • Never dictate solutions, let the team brainstorm to create the best solution
  • Team members can disagree, but must agree to commit and support a solution.
  • Listen to all points of view, but stay focused and drive for a conclusion.
  • Debate is part of the problem solving process.


Identify Problem and Solution Requirements

Why?   Well defined requirements will keep the team focused during development and limit scope creep.  In addition, it eliminates the potential to deliver the wrong product.  The goal, is to deliver the right product the first time.

How?  What problem are you trying to solve?

  • Focus on defining the problem and solution requirements.
  • Requirements are quantitative, and not based on opinions.
  • Prioritize requirements into Musts/Wants.
  • Obtain requirement Validation / Agreement from the customer.




Why?  Well defined deliverables capture what the project is and how you are going to execute it throughout the development cycle.   In addition, they can be used as a performance dashboard to understand if you are on track.

How?  A minimum list of deliverables should include:

  • Requirements
  • Conceptual Design Study
  • Development Schedule
  • Budget
  • Risk Assessment
  • Project Gates
  • Reports
  • Test Procedures
  • Customer Validation
  • User Guide / Technical Manuals