Proven IT Industry Solutions for Project Management in the Individual Product Development Process

Every company in the mechanical engineering and automotive industry has its own specific product development process – but complex project management is common to all of them. Companies often have to manage globally distributed teams of development specialists. Quality Gates and Stage Gates help them ensure that the required quality levels and goals are achieved during the development phases.

Product Development – High Demands on the PM Environment

In addition to project management, quality management is a critical issue in product development. Concepts such as Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) or Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) in the automotive sector help manufacturers ensure product quality.

These concepts tend to generate a large number of quality documents that need to be managed with efficient document management systems. These include lists of open points (LOP lists), which help project managers focus on quick decisions.

TPG The Project Group has worked with these concepts for over 20 years and has plenty of references in the mechanical engineering and automotive industries. Based on this experience, we have put together the following list of possibilities that should be included in an appropriate project and portfolio management (PPM) solution.

Expand the following text modules and read about the proven components of solutions for project management in the engineering sector based on the technologies of Microsoft or Planisware.

Microsoft Project Server / Project Online is an easy-to-use and very powerful tool for enterprise project and portfolio management (PPM). Key stakeholders, project managers and team members all use its common work and information platform.

The Benefits of Microsoft PPM

  • Easy-to-use and powerful tool for all roles
  • Centralized storage of structured information from all projects
  • Multiple options for reports and evaluations of all projects
  • Centralized and standardized document filing in SharePoint
  • Projects can be edited in both the browser and Project Client

More information on Microsoft Project Server or Project Online.

Microsoft Project Server can be extended with “Softlinks” to facilitate the convenient and transparent management of multiple sub-projects. This provides project managers, for example, with insights into the schedule of important tasks from other projects. The links enable important information to be exchanged in a secure manner and mirrored into Microsoft Project plans. If required, these links can also be implemented across several companies.

Method and Benefits of “Softlinks”

  • Project managers easily select important tasks from other projects to link or mirror them in their schedule
  • The selected tasks are displayed for information in their own project plan
  • Project managers can select the tasks to be mirrored, without needing to see entire external projects
  • Links across companies are easy to implement using “Softlinks” as well

More information on TPG ProjectLink or TPG MultiProject(QS).

In matrix organizations, the resource coordination between project managers and department heads is a constant challenge. This enhancement of Microsoft Project Server / Project Online graphically supports the communication process between resource requests from projects and the team leaders of departments. This allows team leaders to identify spare capacity and to assign their staff to projects for the time required. Everyone works in the IT environment they are used to.

Method & Benefits of the Resource Management Solution

  • The project manager sends a request for a resource to the team leader
  • The team leader plans the overall availability of their employees and assigns them to projects and to team activities
  • Team planning and project planning are compared and differences are graphically displayed
  • Project manager and team leader each work with the tool they are used to
  • Data from both environments remain separate

More information on TPG TeamManager.

Project managers work best with a project management tool that meets their needs (e.g. MS Project Server / Online), while controllers often prefer to work with their familiar ERP system (e.g. SAP). The integration of both systems streamlines processes and makes their work a lot easier. The solution provides excellent support for total cost forecasts and the controlling process, delivering many benefits for everyone involved.

Benefits of an Integrated Environment

    • Managers can import detailed budgets, actual costs, actual work and commitments from SAP enabling them to check the projects’ costs and time against the plan and the budget
    • Project managers are always well informed on the spent, assigned and available budget at the level of work packages
    • The need for dual data entry is eliminated, leading to a lower error rate
    • Improved data quality for project managers, controllers and management underpins better decisions
    • Project managers and controllers each work with the tool that is right for them, increasing acceptance of the overall solution

    More information on the TPG PSLink® middleware.

    Microsoft Project Server / Project Online provides important reports on individual projects or project portfolios at your fingertips. A role-based concept and access rights ensure that project members and managers only see the reports that are intended for them.

    The automated reporting system is tailored to your requirements and brings a wealth of benefits to your entire organization.

    Benefits of a Centralized Reporting System

    • Current reports at your fingertips ⇒ elimination of manual work
    • Standardization of reports ⇒ better comparisons
    • Current data of all projects ⇒ strict compliance with reporting periods
    • Immediate availability of important data ⇒ better decision-making ability
    • Overview of all projects and status ⇒ consolidated project information (traffic lights, amounts and more)
    • Focus on key projects ⇒ project selection criteria
    • Details for deep-diving into individual projects ⇒ status report, cost report, risk analysis etc.
    • Output of the reports on demand ⇒ Excel, PowerPoint, PDF or other formats in the corporate design

    More information on the TPG ReportPack.


    “The system delivers savings by avoiding the need to fill in timesheets twice, in MS Project and SAP. The bidirectional integration saves us more than 1 man-year of time and effort annually.”

    Helmut Kölbl, Senior Manager Program Management, Harman International