A Life Engineer’s guide to reimagining Project Management for success & profitability


Most managers embarking on projects today are faced with the challenge of delivering projects on time, every time, profitably, while managing stakeholder expectations. If you are one of them, this post will give you an understanding of the Life Engineers’ approach to project management which guarantees our customers sound sleep at night.

Projects can vary from one-time initiatives like implementing an IT system to being the main nature of a business such as supply and installation of equipment, construction and commissioning of a production facility, preventive maintenance of plants or a turnkey project.

It is a universal reality that almost all projects, irrespective of industry or scope are delayed across the globe and the compromises made to protect the scope and/or budget often impact delivery dates. As a result, even if companies do manage to deliver projects against many odds, profitability and customer satisfaction is often compromised.

Irrespective of the nature of the projects or industry, the types of issues faced by the project companies are similar, and if the teams are asked to list down the reasons for projects not getting completed on time, they will all follow a similar pattern:

  1. an absence of clear and complete specifications
  2. aggressive and ambitious timelines
  3. delays in approvals from key stakeholders
  4. requirements are shared with the project team at the last minute, but they are still expected to deliver on time
  5. evolving business requirements sometimes force clients to alter the process flow, which impacts the design, layouts and hence the project deliverables
  6. third-party dependencies are a challenge to manage
  7. right resources and skills not available when needed
  8. material not available from vendors on time
  9. funds and payments are an issue
  10. priorities keep changing which often delays execution

Fabtech experienced all these issues leading to a constantly fire-fighting and stressed team, delayed projects, dissatisfied stakeholders, and low profitability. This led to introspection. We took stock as a team. We decided this vicious cycle had to be broken and forged ahead.. innovating with simple, common sense tools and techniques!

We realised that while some of these issues are repetitive across projects and also in the projects industry, very little technological innovation has taken place to address them. The reason is most of the focus of the innovation in project management techniques has been on improving planning, analysing information, implementing costly software tools, bettering estimating models and micro-detailing task definitions. The driving assumption is if we can find better ways to manage tasks, somehow the project will be managed effectively.

Fabtech, with all our years of experience managing complex projects in domestic and international markets, understand at a cellular level that the primary role of project management is to manage ‘stakeholder expectations’ while ‘managing profitability of the project’. The way to achieve both of these in a project-based organisation is to align all the stakeholders with a common goal which is the end date of the project – the final frontier. Everything between the start of the project and the end is just tasks and milestones which have significance only from a commercial perspective and not necessarily important to track the health of the project!

This understanding is critical in a multi-project environment like ours, where shared resources have their functional priorities, measures and deliverables while managing ‘bosses’ with individual expectations. In addition, they have to manage the project profitability and stakeholder expectations at the project level!

We have learned to manage all this by ensuring we have a primary measure for every project – which is on-time project completion. Any related and/or secondary measures are functional or individual measures. Project health is always measured by the primary goal. This often drives the team to work together in the interest of the project while retaining their individual functional flexibility. A lot of the issues listed above tend to get highlighted and addressed when everyone, together, is able to see their impact on the primary goal.

Our Sales team’s commitment to clients when it comes to the delivery date, time, deliverables and price is sacrosanct, and the team aligns to meet them reliably. With Fabtech’s years of experience in executing projects, our Life Engineers have arrived at delivery templates for different type of projects which we execute. This helps them arrive at the time and cost estimates rapidly and equips our sales team to make reliable commitments to the clients.

We have a Project Management Office (PMO) which tracks the entire project right from receipt of formal order right up to contract completion. The PMO keeps the entire organisation aligned with the project goal using our proprietary real-time, web-based Project Management System – FabAssure, which is accessible from across the globe.

We have changed the way we look at the health of the project – the focus is no longer about how much we have completed; rather, the entire project team focuses on what is yet to be completed, the time it will take, and the support they need to expedite. The site and office teams thus have a common view of the project, ensuring we remained aligned to the common goal of on-time project completion. Status meetings focus on how we help complete the project faster, together!

By linking local actions (task completion) to the holistic impact on the project completion dates, the discussion focused on the issues a team member is facing to complete a given task. With PMO driving the coordination, the entire team aligns to have the issues resolved using our Issue Log. Issues that stay open are escalated to the senior management in time for them to help step in at an appropriate time and provide the right impetus to the project.

Our clients and even the third-party associates are as much a part of the project and issues related to them are highlighted to prevent last minute surprises. To this end, we have a separate team to manage customer expectations.

Our strong emphasis on assurance involves the entire senior management team, which comes together to review the health of open projects and associated issues on a scheduled day every week/month based on the number of projects that require attention. All this is driven by FabAssure’s dashboard, which is a real-time barometer of the health of our project management and associated delivery capability.

We are also a made-to-order (equipment manufacturing for air, water and process) company that designs, manages and commissions projects to provide a complete 360-degree solution for our customers. You could say we are the only single source project management company in the world with its own manufacturing capability – unique in every sense.

A commitment to delivering projects on time, everytime combined with our practical, simple and result oriented project management processes are the reason Fabtech is able to deliver over 40 projects a year across the globe. For comparison, our closest competitor does 2.

If you would like to know more about Fabtech’s start-to-finish project management capabilities or how we deliver our projects on time every time with FabAssure, use the form below to get in touch.