Interview: Development projects at Dunkermotoren
In an interview – Project Manager Tobias Baier and Markus Wollenzien, Team Leader Project Management at Dunkermotoren.
Editor: Mr. Wollenzien, what characterizes a project at Dunkermotoren?
M. Wollenzien: At Dunkermotoren, a project is extensive, technically complex, unique, time limited and is handled by a project team. In projects, new products are developed or essential parts and components on the product are revised. The team members take on responsibility and are motivated to solve difficult tasks. Learning together is a matter of course for the team members. In the project, performance, time, resources/budget, generated quality and customer satisfaction are tracked
Editor: Mr. Baier, can you give us an insight into which employees make up a project team?
T. Baier: The interdisciplinary project team is made up of employees from Product Management, Research and Development, Industrial Engineering, Strategic Purchasing and Project Management. If necessary, the team can be expanded.
Editor: Mr. Wollenzien, how does a project work?
M. Wollenzien: Basically, a project runs according to the product development process. A project starts with the kick-off meeting and ends with the product release. In between, there are various project phases and milestones. Depending on the project, different project management methods are used.
Editor: Is there anything else you would like to add, Mr. Baier?
T. Baier: Agile project management is also in vogue currently. At the moment, a pilot project is implementing a "hybrid model" consisting of agile and classic elements. The first three project phases are implemented agilely and the other two project phases classically. In the agile phases, the focus is on the development of the required products. In the classic phases, the focus is on meeting deadlines according to planning. We try to combine the positive characteristics of both approaches and adapt them to Dunkermotoren's specific needs.
Editor: How would you describe the difference between the two approaches?
M. Wollenzien: In the classic approach, the requirements are known at the beginning of the project. There is a clear hierarchy in the project team. The project team consists of many specialists to whom tasks are assigned. Effort estimation is done by experts. Changes to requirements are often difficult to implement during the course of the project and usually require re-planning for the rest of the project.
In the agile approach, the requirements are fuzzy or not yet fully known at the beginning. The project team mainly organizes itself and shows joint responsibility. Team members take on tasks independently. Effort estimation is developed jointly in the team. Changes to requirements are planned during the course of the project and can be implemented more easily.
Editor: Is there a personal favorite for you?
M. Wollenzien: I don't have a favorite. Each approach has its benefits. From my point of view, a suitable approach should be chosen depending on the requirements of the project. Based on the feedback so far, the hybrid model is very popular. For me, the sprinting in the agile approach is particularly interesting.
Editor: Mr. Baier, who is the client and who is the customer for a project or for the products resulting from a project?
T. Baier: The client for projects is the Product Management department. This department consults with the Sales Department in advance on market views and trends and incorporates the results into the requirements for the products to be developed. The project is approved by the Steering Board and then implemented in the company. Depending on the availability of resources and other factors, the projects are started
M. Wollenzien: In the first step, the customers for the products from the project are the Product Managers. They represent the Sales Department and the end customer for the entire duration of the project. In the second step, it is the end customers themselves who receive the first samples and, at the end of the project, the released products.
Editor: Mr. Baier, how are clients and customers involved in the project?
T. Baier: The clients and other people interested in the project are informed about the project status by the Project Manager in the monthly multi-project meeting. Decisions can be made there or in separate meetings. The project team presents the milestones for completion of the project phases. The direct supervisors of the team members approve the milestones and are involved in the project progress. By creating samples early in the project, end users can provide direct feedback to the project team and influence the project progress.
Editor: In conclusion: Mr. Wollenzien and Mr. Baier, what fascinates you about your job as a project manager and where do you see the daily challenges?
M. Wollenzien: A major challenge is not losing sight of the project goals throughout the entire project duration. The project team must be motivated and the people involved have to be integrated into the project. In case of changes, the effects have to be pointed out and, if necessary, new plans have to be made. Many of the project manager's tasks are not visible to outsiders, but they influence the success of the project. Working with many colleagues from different departments is very varied. I particularly enjoy actively shaping projects.
T. Baier: Working together as a team on a project goal and implementing the best drive solutions for our customers gives me great pleasure. Accompanying a product from its creation to its release always set a great challenge that need to be solved.
Editor: Thank you both very much for your insight into project management at Dunkermotoren.