How do I write project management

Project management, project work

Headlines keep popping up in the media that show what a holey project management can do: The delayed delivery of the Airbus A400M could cost EADS 5 billion euros. The prestige project A380 led to contractual penalties and higher development costs for the same company due to multiple delays, apart from the loss of prestige. Another example is the Cologne subway construction. Here one has consciously or unconsciously out of stock in the cost calculation for the project. The original calculation of 630 million euros is as much as 50% too low. But also the Mercedes A-Class that was tipped during the moose test and the false start of the Ariane rocket at the time are further good examples of faulty project management.


general description

Especially in an age where the earnings situation of companies depends more than ever on new developments, the success of which is based on the speed and cost-effectiveness of the development process, the quality of project management has a decisive influence on the future of the company.

Confused project management inevitably leads to significant deviations from the agreed targets in innovative projects. These punish (also internal) clients by refusing to accept the service or demanding costly rework and price reductions. The profitability of the project and the image (possibly even the existence) of the company are at stake. The risk of dumping the project “in the sand” increases with the increasing degree of complexity and innovation as well as the work to be carried out.

Even with confused project management, the solutions will be there at some point. The only question is at what price and with what quality the project service is created. Extensive countermeasures ensure unnecessary stress for the project manager, the project team, the customer and the internal organization. Anyone who does not plan must not only adapt spontaneously to unpredictable, but also to foreseeable problems. With confused project management, the course of the project is like a rollercoaster ride with an unknown outcome.

So it's no wonder that companies are increasingly looking to project management skills when recruiting young engineers and managers, and that this is the focus of many assessment centers. This refers to the ability to plan a project. The planning of project structures, processes, milestones, dates, times, resources, costs and project risks should therefore be familiar to every graduate. In addition to this rather methodical knowledge, a good project manager also understands how to form a functioning team from x-people and how to “sell” and “enforce” the project in relation to the environment.

theory and practice

Seldom does theory look like practice and practice looks like theory.
Books, seminars and case studies on key qualifications cannot always fully take into account all practical problems on a topic and all special boundary conditions of the individual workplace. Explanations from seminars and books therefore hardly ever apply to practice in their purest form.

When applying what has been learned in the workplace, hurdles and barriers quickly arise. If you still want to apply the new knowledge, more or less imagination is required. Possibly the pure culture has to be abandoned and practical modifications, e.g. of methods and instruments, have to be created. It is often enough to filter out the few points from books and seminars and apply them that are most likely to help in practice.

The above knowledge should not be overlooked when it comes to the skills for the individual key qualifications. Certainly the abilities presented in a comprehensive manner cannot be fully incorporated into the application process. The study of the specializations should lead to a higher sensitivity for the qualification. After that, everyone has to decide for themselves which points could be important for the employer being advertised, which of them they would like to address and whether they should do this in the written application or in the interview.


The importance of project work and project management can sometimes be seen very directly from the job vacancies. In rare cases, the terms “project engineer” and “project manager” are explicitly used in the position description, such as “project manager development”. More often, the detailed description of individual tasks and requirements clearly indicates the meaning by including the term "project", e.g. "planning and controlling development projects" or "responsibility for logistics projects from analysis to conception".

How important the project work is can basically only be deduced from a closer look at all the tasks and requirements mentioned in the text of the advertisement. In general, it can be stated that wherever it is primarily about the development, introduction and optimization of new structures, processes, technologies, standards and products or services, the topics of project work and project management play a major role. Therefore, during the entire application process, the personnel decision-makers should be on the lookout for the appropriate qualities of the respective candidate.

Every now and then, the importance of project work results from references in the job advertisement such as: "Experience in project-oriented working methods, willingness to work on national and international projects, project management experience, experience in project management, ability to manage complex projects." Required software packages for project management the importance, e.g. MS-Project.

The following will show you what you should write and talk about in the application process in order to flash project work and project management skills.

Key qualification

Focus 1

Personal skills of project managers and project staff

  • Ability to work with colleagues from various technical and commercial departments, works council, etc.
  • Ability to work with external parties from research institutions, engineering offices, other service companies, suppliers, customers
  • Acceptance of personalities with a wide variety of experiences, age groups, hierarchical levels, countries of origin
  • Flexibility to constantly adapt to new tasks (mostly) from all project phases and willingness to do innovative work
  • Tolerance for different views on the project: customer, sales, development, production, quality assurance, logistics, etc.
  • Structured, systematic, planned approach in the project: "Tell me how a project starts and I will tell you how it ends!"
  • Willingness to carry out project activities under constant deadline and success pressure - mostly in addition to the usual day-to-day business
  • Realistic view: The project manager develops visions and "sells" them to the client. As a realizer, however, he must also be measured against the promises!
  • High level of commitment: the project manager as a tireless doer, engine, driver, steamroller, caretaker, fire fighter, role model for everyone involved in the project

Focus 2

Skills to initiate the project

  • Presentation of the project idea: problem description, project justification, cost-benefit analysis, rough concept and rough planning
  • Translation of requirements from internal / external customers into the language of development, link between client and implementers
  • Creation of requirement profiles, specifications as well as participation in the preparation of offers or the solicitation of offers (project purchasing)
  • Examination of project orders from internal / external clients for feasibility in terms of services, quality, deadlines and budget
  • Preparation and participation in project decisions, project negotiations and contract drafting
  • Examination of whether the use of complex planning instruments is worthwhile and whether a planning project should even be initiated
  • Systematic survey of all ancillary conditions for the project such as resource availability, qualifications, purchase opportunities, etc.
  • Acquisition of projects and funds for project implementation

Focus 3

Skills for planning and controlling projects

  • Project structure planning: Breaking down the entire project service into project phases, sub-projects, sub-services, individual activities
  • Process planning: Determination of the order in which services or activities are to be processed
  • Time planning: Estimation of the time required for services or activities, determination of the duration for the overall project and for individual sub-projects, scheduling of resources
  • Resource planning: Determining which human, machine and other resources are required in which quantity and quality, checking resource utilization, participating in cost planning
  • Milestone planning: Establishing essential milestones for the project or for certain project phases
  • Monitoring and controlling the timely and professional processing within budget: scope / content of work, processes, deadlines, cost parameters
  • Creation of project progress reports, recognition of plan-actual deviations, development of countermeasures
  • Use of project management tools and, if necessary, project management software

Focus 4

Project management skills

  • Form a team from x (mostly not subject to discipline), even if others may have put the team together
  • Compensate for unequal objectives, different levels of knowledge and a lack of harmony in the project team
  • Attract employees to the project, keep them interested and motivate them to work
  • Recognize group dynamic processes in the project team, assess the effects on project performance and perceive conflict management
  • Leading the project team as a moderator: The project manager uses the project team's ideas, experience and knowledge and deliberately takes back!
  • Inclusion of the team: definition of goals, project planning, meetings, information, deadlines; Emphasize togetherness!
  • Define clear tasks for the individual, differentiate them from other tasks and determine the role of the individual team member
  • Eliminate negative external influences, organize infrastructure, resources, etc. so that the team can perform 100%
  • Conduct one-on-one discussions with team members, plan, prepare, conduct and lead team meetings
  • Recognize differences between the requirements and qualifications of the respective team member, initiate personnel development measures
  • Sell ​​project results as team results!

Focus 5

Information management skills

  • Communicate with various interest groups such as client, lobby, opposition and sources who provide project resources. Persuasion: constant communication of the project benefit to the client and other key people
  • Presenting, discussing and implementing project ideas, project plans, project services and their modifications in the course of the project
  • Reports on project progress, project successes / failures, disruptions and their causes, achievement of milestones
  • Objections, especially those of the opposition, to the project, to parry and refute, to pull the opposition to your side
  • Obtaining location information on the project: where is the project? Has the priority changed? How is the environment related to the project? etc.
  • Information of the resource sources about the benefits of the employees, machines, tools etc. in order to further secure their availability.
  • Recognize, address, discuss and eliminate atmospheric disturbances in the environment, especially at the client's
  • Presentation of the project to the outside world: trade fairs, exhibitions, customer presentations, training courses, etc.

Proof in the application process

Proof in the cover letter

Five to seven of the most important tasks and requirements from the job advertisement should be addressed and dealt with in the cover letter. For example, the following is required: “Planning and controlling of development projects.” Now the applicant should prove in the cover letter why he can cover this task, e.g. “I have already worked several times on the planning and controlling of development projects. I use modern project management tools to control services, qualities, processes, deadlines and costs. "

It looks different if the meaning of the project work only results from the context of the ad. The general skills required for project work or project management can be discussed here, e.g. "I have special skills for project work. I enjoy working in interdisciplinary teams made up of a wide variety of personalities. I also check project ideas for feasibility or bring in my own project ideas. I already planned and managed sub-projects and led a small project team. "

An important topic in connection with project management is leadership. If an engineer applies for a position in which leadership skills are expected, he should indicate in the cover letter that he has had technical or (if applicable) disciplinary management responsibility as a project manager. To sweep technical management responsibility under the table out of false modesty does not help. Often the person who “only” leads professionally has to have far greater management competence than the person who leads by order di mufti.

Proof in the résumé

In the curriculum vitae there are various options for listing the qualifications for project management or project work. That can happen at the study stations. Diploma theses, doctorates, internships are often projects that are also planned. Terms such as “project work” or “project planning” can be used in this context in the curriculum vitae. Occupational stations should be overwritten with the position designation. If applicable, terms such as project engineer, sub-project manager, project manager and project manager can be used here. In addition, five to seven important main areas of activity should be documented for the professional stations, which could also contain terms such as "project", "sub-project", "project activity". This also includes focal points from project work and project management. In addition, there could be a small catalog with 1-3 projects in which the applicant was involved under the main areas of activity. The projects can be presented in a striking manner, i.e. in a telegram style, e.g. "Project management for the introduction of a new CAD system". Last but not least, seminars on project management under the focus on “further training” and software packages for project management under “IT skills” should not be forgotten.

An important topic in connection with project management is leadership. If an engineer applies for a position in which leadership qualities are expected, he should also point out in his résumé that he has had technical or (if applicable) disciplinary management responsibility as a project manager (see proof in the cover letter).

Proof on the third page

Some applicants add a "third page" to their résumé, mainly dealing with the questions: Who am I? What I want? What can I? Regardless of the sense or nonsense of such a page, engineers should definitely address the topics of project management and project work. The question “Who am I?” Usually includes personality traits. This should also include those that are important for the project work. The personal abilities of project managers and project staff members listed under the priorities above provide a starting point. As already mentioned in the introduction, the professional world of engineers consists largely of projects. It would therefore be fatal to forget these in the context of professional goals and professional skills.

Evidence in the documents

When it comes to application documents, some are spoiled for choice when it comes to attaching seminar, training and education certificates. Candidates with little project experience should include all project management seminars. Experienced project managers should refrain from providing evidence of basic seminars and, in particular, certificates on management issues such as project management, project team management, project communication, and the like. enclose.

Certificates in project management (PMI - Project Management Institute, Inc., GPM - Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement) or evidence of high-quality project management training (e.g. project management specialist) or postgraduate studies should by no means be missing in the application folder.

Proof in the qualification profile

In the qualification profile, the applicant presents a short biography in four or five areas of focus. Those who have enough experience in the field of project work / project management should open a focus area “project management”, “project work” or “projects”. Here he can now list essential experiences and specific projects. If this seems too prominent for you, you should list at least three to four experiences on this topic under the other specialist focal points of the profile.

Proof in the interview

The topics of project management and project work are addressed either directly or indirectly in the interview, depending on the tendency of the job advertisement. Regardless, the engineer should address the issues on his own. He can map a lot of skills and qualifications in his own questions and answers. In preparation for the interview, it is also advisable to list the tasks you have performed yourself for all projects that have been completed so far. It is so easy to bring specific professional experience into play when you have direct questions about project work or to return to the topics of project management and project work via minor detours if you have other questions.

Proof in practice

All theory is of little use if theory is not followed by practice. A project manager is not born at a desk or in seminars. What counts is “learning by doing”. In other words: Young engineers should offer their job for project work. It is also advisable to bring project ideas. Many an engineer who had a project idea has already been called to implement it as a project manager. Valuable experience can only be gained in practice, which ultimately leads to all the knowledge that makes a successful project manager. Projects have a technical dimension, but for the project manager it is more important to "sell" the project to the outside world, in order to keep ears and wallet open for the project. In addition, experienced project managers take a back seat to the team, moderate the team and receive 100% team performance in return. Project managers must also be able to defend the project against the opposition over and over again and to build a project lobby.


Technical / management career

As part of a professional career, project work and project management are part of everyday life. The engineer should therefore qualify accordingly through theory and practice. The professional career usually leads from the clerk to the project engineer to the project manager. Experienced managers of key projects can earn six-figure annual salaries. In rare cases, they later switch from a specialist career to a management career. Convinced project managers see themselves as “fact-oriented”, want to work on the “cause” and not be a “politician”. The special meaning of the "star" among project managers is also reflected in titles every now and then. The "crown" is the lead engineer in project management. However, the titles can also have been made up quite imaginatively, e.g. Heavyweight project manager.

Managers play a different role in connection with projects. You are responsible for multi-project management in your area of ​​competence. They play the higher-level control instance for the projects. You get reports from the project managers, specify the decisive project goals, set milestones, intervene in the projects in the event of significant deviations from the planned goals, but without doing detailed work. Other topics that play a role for managers are, for example, the introduction of systematic project management, the selection of the project manager, the determination of the organizational structure of the projects, the definition of the competencies of the project managers, the presentation and defense of the projects in concert with the managers, the selection of the projects to be implemented, etc. .

Occupational field-specific importance

Project work and project management is used as a cross-sectional function in all engineering areas. The occupational field-specific significance for the key qualification “project management, project work” can be derived from an evaluation of around 4,000 job advertisements that were placed on in 2012. The job advertisements searched for terms that directly target the respective key qualification. Accordingly, the following result was shown for the key qualification "project management, project work":

Very important

  • Project management
  • Servicing, maintenance, commissioning
  • Research and Development
  • Assembly-oriented production / process engineering production
  • construction

Great importance

  • Quality, material and quality testing
  • Product management
  • Technical sales, technical marketing
  • technical shopping
  • Logistics (production, sales, purchasing)
  • Research and Teaching
  • Occupational safety, environmental protection, plant safety

Moderate importance

  • Technical management / management

Among the 11 evaluated key qualifications, the key qualification “project management, project work” takes third place. This is an outstanding position that shows how much value employers place on very good project work and professional project management today. There were no separate evaluations for the occupational fields “Engineering in Plant Construction”, “Controlling / Calculation / Project Planning” and “Facility Management”. The occupational fields "Engineering in plant construction" and controlling / calculation / project planning "can best be brought on the same level as the occupational field" Project Management ", the occupational field" Facility Management "with the occupational field" Maintenance, repair, commissioning ".

Training opportunities

Seminars / training / coaching

When looking for special seminars, there is no way around the Society for Project Management (GPM) in Nuremberg. A visit to the homepage already reveals the scope of the offers. Concrete support in the sense of coaching on specific projects is part of the core business of management consultancies., When looking for special seminars, you cannot avoid the Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement (GPM) in Munich. A visit to the homepage already reveals the scope of the offers. Concrete support in the sense of coaching for specific projects is part of the core business of management consultancies. Recently, entire postgraduate courses have been devoted to project management and can lead to a master’s degree. Sometimes such a master’s degree makes more sense for engineers for their technical disciplines for daily business than an MBA, which for most engineers is just a nice title on a nice piece of paper and is stapled in a folder with the other certificates.

In the past, isolated seminars were used to bring yourself up to date in project management and to back up practice with theory, but today more and more people rely on extensive training programs that are completed with certification. These degrees should not only serve as proof of qualification in project management but also be a convincing argument in dealing with the customer who buys projects. This sounds logical, but it clearly underestimates the practical part of project management. Good project managers are not born on the green table and do not need to have their knowledge confirmed by a superordinate institution. You have successfully completed a number of projects and the results speak for themselves for employers and customers. Project managers are therefore primarily the result of extensive practical experience. There is no question that the associated theory can bring the icing on the cake. But whether it requires extensive training with a certificate is worth discussing.
In the area of ​​certification for project management, the PMI (Project Management Institute, Inc.) should be mentioned first. The PMI advertises its training by pointing out that the PMP certification according to the PMI standard is the most widespread certification worldwide and that more than 350,000 project managers worldwide have passed this certification. In addition, the GPM (Society for Project Management) offer certifications up to project management specialists.


The literature on project management is very extensive. When it comes to project management, studying literature is sure to continue when it comes to acquiring the basics and methods and getting an initial insight into the topic. Here is a small selection of recommended books:

  • Andler, Nicolai, Tools for Project Management, Workshops and Consulting, Publics MCD
  • Burghardt, Manfred, Project Management, Public MCD, Siemens
  • Schelle, Heinz Leading projects to success, DTV
  • Kraus, Georg; Westermann, Reinhold, systematic project management, Gabler
  • Felkai, Roland; Beiderwieden, Arndt, project management for technical R&D projects, VIEWEG + TEUBNER
  • Kerzner, Harold, project management, MITP-Verlag