How Do Engineers Learn to Manage?

by Stanley H. Madsen, (F.ASCE), Eec. Vice Pres.; Earth Technology Corp., Long Beach, Calif.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1985, Vol. 55, Issue 2, Pg. 58-59

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Most engineers prefer design problems to management problems, but if a firm is to prosper, project managers must learn to manage and devote time to management. Earth Technology Corporation in Long Beach, Calif. set out to improve its project management performance. During a period of rapid growth in the firm, many of the senior staff members were responsible for managing projects, but project management skills did not keep pace with company growth, and the result was poor contracts, delays in completing work and cost overruns. The firm's chief executive officer exposed the problem in an all-day seminar on project management personnel. The firm's management also formed a committee to review problem projects, and concluded that their procedures and policies on project management were not clearly defined. The committee prepared a project managers manual, covering company organization, proposals, contracts, client relations, project planning and implementation, invoicing, project marketing, multidisciplinary projects and interoffice projects. The manual was distributed to all seniors and associates, and a series of project managers met to discuss each section. Preliminary results indicate a decrease in overruns of 35% during a two-year period.

Subject Headings: Construction management | Management | Personnel management | Professional development | Training |

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