state of engineering project management

State of Engineering Project Management 2021

The project management landscape is changing rapidly with the wide spread of remote work, businesses pressing for efficiency, and overall digitalization of industries. Engineering (both civil and mechanical) companies are among the most affected by these factors. Massive adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other engineering software solutions have changed the way engineering solutions are built. Project management and collaboration software have changed the way engineering projects are managed and delivered. The stereotype of an engineer running in the construction field with mobile phone is fading away, just like of the one sitting in the meeting room among piles of paper drawings.

Teamhood has been the preferred project management tool for numerous engineering companies. Efficient collaboration, visualizing large scope projects, and managing workloads are the most common needs of engineering teams that approach Teamhood. However, we found little research on how engineering companies are adopting new project management tools globally. Therefore, we decided to conduct a research on the state of engineering project management ourselves. We have approached engineering project managers in 12 selected countries with few basic questions about how they manage their projects and how they adopt project management tools . 

Let us investigate the findings of our first state of engineering project management report. 

Project management tool adoption – way to go

First of all it came as a surprise for us, that 48% of engineering companies do not use any dedicated project management tool. How do they manage projects then? 44% of those not using a dedicated tool, use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage their plans and workloads. The rest are handling projects with emails, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, or adopting relevant features of their ERP systems. 

Adopting a dedicated project management tool is more common in medium – larger teams of more than 5 people – 55% and in smaller companies of less than 100 employees – 56%. 

engineering project management report

Large teams are less satisfied 

Let us  look deeper at the patterns of the teams already using dedicated project management software. 

The majority of those who are using a dedicated project management tool, do it daily – 67% of all teams. 23% use their tools weekly, 7% use the tools rarely, and 4% do not use them at all. Variations between team size or company size are insignificant. 

engineering project management report

Larger engineering teams were less satisfied with existing project management tools than small teams. The average satisfaction score for large teams was 6,8 and for small teams 8,1 out of 10. Averages usually are not the best metric to reflect differences. To make the difference clearer we applied the positive-negative subtraction method used in NPS surveys. Eliminating neutral valuations (scoring 7-8), reflects the proportion between positives (scoring 9-10) and negatives (scoring 1-6). Having the widely used method applied, large teams scored -27 and small teams scored + 25. The large teams not satisfied with their tools have split nearly equally into three reason categories: tools are not easy to use, lack of integration into software ecosystem and lack of training or usage of existing features.

Switching for ease of use 

31% of project managers would consider switching to a new project management tool within 12 months. The main reasons supporting such consideration are ease of use, the efficiency of working with a tool, transparency of information, and cost. 70% Of those considering switching use Microsoft Project today.  

In the choosing phase, Ease of use is considered the most important criteria for a preference of a new project management tool. Followed by acceptance of the team. 

engineering project management reports

Big time for a change 

As mentioned in the beginning, 48% of engineering companies do not use any dedicated project management tools yet. But 40% of these respondents are considering starting using one within the next 12 months. Of those who are considering adopting a dedicated project management tool, 70% are using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Teams for planning and managing their projects today. 

We have also asked the teams currently not using a dedicated project management tool about the criteria for preference. Ease of use was considered as the most important like the group already using a dedicated tool.  

However, there is one notable difference in the valuation of choice criteria between the two groups. For teams that are using project management tools acceptance by the teams is far more important than for teams not using a project management tool yet.  

This difference clearly demonstrates the importance of team engagement for the success of software adaptability. The success of a tool adoption and value retrieved depends more on how people enjoy using the tool – instantly sharing information, following the plans, and analyzing metrics to improve performance. And this is well understood by teams, that have already experienced using a project management software but would consider switching to a new one. 

engineering project management report

Methodology 

Conducting this “state of engineering project management” report in May 2021 we have collected nearly 200 responses on email surveys from engineering project managers around the world. USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Nordic countries, Philippines, SAR, and Australia were chosen as countries for the survey. We have surveyed both larger and smaller companies. 52% of respondents come from smaller companies with less than 100 employees, and 48% from those with more than 100 employees. We have also investigated the variation of team size. 40% of respondents work in small teams of less than 5 people, 40% in medium teams of 6-25 people, and 20% in large teams of more than 25 people. 

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