The trends shaping the automotive industry in 2022 will certainly have an impact on its companies’ projects. What issues will they bring to automotive project management, and what are the ways to address them? Read further to explore these issues in detail.
Challenges in Automotive Projects
The automotive industry is moving towards the new future by leaps and bounds. Its current development is primarily driven by 4 major trends: connectivity, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, and electrification. All of them turn a car into a computer on the road, which requires installation of corresponding software and introduction of numerous features. This poses a number of challenges for the automotive companies: increasing competition, frequent changes as a result of rapid progress, establishing partnerships with software companies, and other related issues. Besides, there’s much uncertainty about supplying automotive manufacturers with necessary materials (e.g. global chip shortage), and the need for reducing production costs adds to the above-mentioned difficulties.
Now, let’s see how these challenges will be reflected in the automotive companies’ projects.
The ongoing pandemic, continuing global chip shortage and car manufacturers’ attempts to break their heavy dependence on tech suppliers, the application of innovative manufacturing technologies, device failure in newly manufactured cars – all these and other factors cause significant uncertainty and make it rather difficult to plan projects ahead. Besides, we shouldn’t forget about Murphy’s law – no project is immune to equipment failure, critical employees’ illnesses, extreme weather consequences, and other things that can go wrong.
Increasing number of projects
As the automotive industry continues its development affected by recent unprecedented disruption, the number of projects its companies take on this year will be increasing. In addition, to stay competitive on the market, business owners will struggle to deliver their products faster and produce more (e.g. implement more advanced features than competitors). In addition, these projects are becoming more and more complex due to quickly developing technologies. As a result, automotive companies that used to have hundreds of projects underway are expected to be loaded with an increasing number of new complex initiatives running simultaneously. Such a complicated multi-project environment with its project dependencies and shared resources requires a well-thought project and resource management approach.
The need to cut costs
Industries and businesses still deal with the bits and pieces of the pandemic crisis, like global chip shortages or unforeseen massive production decline that happened in 2020. At the same time, recent trends in the automotive domain require serious investments into the vehicles being manufactured. This means that financial resources allocated for projects can be limited.
A lack of skilled resources is a common problem for most industries these days, especially those that deal with technology and manufacturing. As stated by McKinsey, in the automotive industry, this challenge is explained by revolutionary changes in technology, business model, and consumer preferences. For example, the application of the latest manufacturing technologies (e.g. factory of the future) requires specialists with advanced technical skills, so it may be difficult to hire them as quickly as needed. Besides, as automotive companies develop, grow and take on more and more projects, they need more people to work on them, but hiring new employees may take a long time and lead to significant increase of costs.
The need to shorten the product development time
To stay competitive on the market, automotive companies have to deliver their products faster. The vehicles have become a combination of software and hardware parts, and software development progress evolves much faster than hardware is manufactured. So, automakers have to change their approaches to product development to make it shorter but no less efficient.
Globally distributed teams, equipment, and facilities
In today’s globalized world, companies can have their human and material resources located across the globe. It has certain benefits: they can reduce production costs due to placing industrial facilities in countries with cheaper workforce or vice versa – it becomes possible to bring together a team of high-end professionals regardless of their location. At the same time, managing large projects with globally distributed teams and material resources is rather challenging – they are miles away, but a project/resource manager has to keep track of all of them and make sure they are allocated to the right tasks. And if we talk about large organizations with hundreds of projects and thousands of globally distributed employees, this task becomes twice as difficult.
Nevertheless, automotive companies need to deliver their projects as successfully and efficiently as possible. The tips below will help achieve this goal.
5 Tips on How to Address Challenges in Automotive Projects
Prioritize projects and tasks
When the number of projects in a company is increasing, their prioritization is the key to cope with all of them successfully. First, when a new project comes in, it’s important to analyze if it’s reasonable to start it right now or to postpone it, if there are enough available human and material resources to complete it, and how it will affect the whole multi-project environment. Second, it’s important to prioritize the tasks across the whole multi-project environment to know what should be managed first. Finally, prioritization makes it possible to fight bad multitasking and overload as the project team members know what tasks matter most at the moment.
Prepare for uncertainty and risks
One of the ways to cope with uncertainty in project management is establishing a time buffer: even if something goes wrong, there will be more probability that a project will be delivered on time.
While uncertainty is impossible to manage, the same can’t be said about risks. Proper risk management will improve control over the project flow, provide better predictability of its outcomes, make it possible to detect any arising issues timely and predict or efficiently respond to them.
Utilize available resources with maximum efficiency
Here are some tips that help utilize your resources to the full.
- Plan resources’ capacity to determine if there’s a gap between required and available resources.
- Create cross-functional teams of employees who have a wide range of skills and can be interchangeable.
- Apply resource leveling technique: when available resources are limited, you can adjust a project’s timeline in accordance with the critical employee’s availability.
- Assign critical resources to the highest priority projects.
- Manage the employees’ workload – this will protect them from being overwhelmed and increase their efficiency.
Adopt Agile frameworks for product development
As car manufacturers have to quickly respond to customers’ growing demands and the automotive industry’s trends, Agile approaches can be successfully used in automotive manufacturing. Agile is adaptive to changes and enables frequent value delivery in collaboration with customers, so it can be used to decrease the vehicles’ time to market and manufacture products based on real users’ needs and taking their feedback into account.
Use project/resource management software with advanced functionalities
Modern project and resource management software solutions provide numerous opportunities to organize work on a project in a maximum efficient way, take control of all projects in a multi-project environment, assist in efficient resource utilization, and as a result, ensure timely delivery. Besides, some of the tools support predictive analytics capabilities and make it possible to forecast bottlenecks, which contributes to smooth project delivery.
An example of such a software solution is Epicflow – a multi-project resource management tool. We’ll explore Epicflow’s features to illustrate their contribution to optimized project’s workflow.
Working in a multi-project environment, it’s really difficult to determine the right priorities among a great number of tasks and at the same time be mindful of every project’s limitations and dependencies between all of them. Epicflow is capable of automatic prioritization of tasks and projects across the whole multi-project environment. It takes into account the real-time data including all dependencies between projects and calculates priorities accordingly. As a result, both a project manager and every team member know exactly what tasks and projects they should work on at the moment. The list of prioritized tasks is available in Task List, while Pipeline allows you not only to monitor the state of the whole multi-project environment, but indicates what projects require most of your management effort.
Informed resource allocation
To assign the right tasks to the right employees, you need to keep in mind each team member’s skills and capacity. But it’s an overwhelming task when there are hundreds or even thousands of employees working on numerous projects. Epicflow’s Competence Management feature keeps information on every employee’s skill sets and their capacity and what is more, uses this information to suggest a perfect employee for completing a certain task. Therefore, the resource allocation process becomes more efficient and simple no matter where your resources are located and how many people work on projects.
Managing material resources
When managing manufacturing projects, you have to control each project’s material resources – raw materials, equipment, tools, etc. Epicflow makes this task much more simple: in our system, you can create different types of resources and specify necessary information about them – price, hourly rate, measurement unit, and risk factor.
Also, you can collect all the necessary equipment used in a project into the Unit Pool. Similarly to assigning tasks to employees, you can assign them to equipment pieces. In addition, you can specify their availability and capacity as well as the number of their working hours per day and the number of machines in the calendar.
Therefore, in such a way, you’ll easily keep track of all material resources used for completing your projects, even if they are located in different corners of the world.
Making informed decisions
Decision making under conditions of uncertainty is really tough, so you’d probably want to know if you’ve made the right decision and what consequences it will have for a project’s further workflow. Epicflow gives a chance to test various scenarios and choose the most reasonable option. What-If Analysis makes it possible to predict outcomes of project environment changes based on the real-time information – you can see what will happen if you add or remove projects, move milestones, reassign resources, or make any other ad hoc decisions. The Future Load Graph shows your resources’ workload and the way it will change in the future so that you can analyze it and take necessary measures to keep it balanced.
Optimized work on similar projects
Working on multiple projects, you may have a number of typical project elements. You can save them in the Module Library and later use as templates for upcoming projects. It will certainly save your time and effort and make it possible to focus on more important work. For example, car manufacturing involves a series of repeated tasks performed by the same people or equipment. Instead of entering the same information for every new project, you can use templates from the Module Library.
Would you like to learn more about Epicflow? Book a demo with our specialist to explore more of its advanced capabilities for your perfectly streamlined project orchestration.