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Engineering Projects - Planning for success!

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Being an engineer is much more than just performing calculations and making drawings. In the real-world, professional engineers are needed to take responsibly for leading projects including planning for time, quality and cost.

In this article, we cover the basics of project planning techniques and common planning tools.

To complete a project successfully you must control a large number of activities, and ensure that they're completed on schedule.

If you miss a deadline or finish a task out of sequence, there could be knock-on effects on the rest of the project. It could deliver late as a result, and cost a lot more. That's why it's helpful to be able to see everything that needs to be done, and know at a glance, when each activity needs to be completed. One commonly used tool to visualise a project plan is a Gantt chart

Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a Project Managing Tool, to help you organize your project in a work breakdown structure. It helps you create a schedule for your project and track the status of each task.

Gantt charts convey this information visually. They outline all of the tasks involved in a project, and their order shown against a timescale. This gives you an instant overview of a project, its associated tasks, and when these need to be finished.

There are many different tools and software that can be used to create a Gantt chart, such as ProjectLibre or simply using templates in Microsoft Excel that you can use for free.

Let’s explore further how to create and manage a project management chart (Gantt chart). This can be done in 4 main steps:

Step 1: Identify Essential Tasks

Your project should be broken down into all the tasks that are needed to successfully complete the project.

The first thing you should do is to create a list of all these activities, and estimate how long each task will take.

Let’s use a simple example of making a cup of tea. The tasks involved would be:

Task Name


Time taken

Task 1

Collect cup

15 seconds

Task 2

Fill kettle with water

30 seconds

Task 3

Boil water

3 minutes

Task 4

Collect tea bag

15 seconds

Task 5