Project management

Digital, dynamic, collaborative: our virtual PM-boot camp

With a strong record in implementation throughout the whole vehicle development process, visionary in future technologies and highly efficient in execution: as a leading development partner for the mobility of the future, PSW has the proven expertise to concurrently develop several vehicle derivatives. In addition to our wide range of technical services and more than 30 years of development experience, our project management is an important cornerstone for transforming our customers' visions into reality.

In order to offer development of entire vehicles from a single source, we always strive to set new standards and continually improve ourselves when managing vehicle projects. For this reason, there is a special format at PSW: the project management boot camp. Anyone who envisages a group of people clad in camouflage suits crawling through the mud while being encouraged by a screaming instructor has not quite got to the heart of the matter!

“The aim of our PM boot camps is for participants to hone their skills for everyday project work,” explains Erhard Dörr, head of project management at PSW. “On the one hand, we use it to train our skills and strengthen our role to enable us to handle customer projects even more professionally. On the other hand, every participant has the chance to develop personally. We called it 'boot camp' because the participants have to work on their tasks in a very demanding environment.”

PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement
Erhard Dörr and Silvio Schindler, CEOs, welcome the participants to the first virtual project management boot camp.
PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement
Andreas Fidorra, Managing Director Development, also welcomes the participants.

Project management bootcamps at PSW: from an analogue to a digital world

“Several boot camps have taken place in the past few months. Usually, these are always on-site events that lasted several days, but this was no longer possible due to the corona situation. The solution? Hold the boot camp virtually, as project manager for vehicle bodies and exteriors Michael Roth, who helped design and organise the format, explains: “Because of social distancing, we let the boot camp take place virtually for the first time. Unconnected from the coronavirus, project work is increasingly taking place in virtual space, anyway. We had been planning for a long time that we would further develop the format in this direction so that in future we could offer our customers increasingly digital processing of their projects. This is faster, more efficient and more cost effective, too.”

PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement
Erhard Dörr and Michael Roth hold a presentation.
PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement

Case study and training

“But what happens during the four-day boot camp? The central component is the processing of a practical but unrelated case study: the 22 participants from different business areas had to submit an offer for the development of an aircraft and prepare milestone releases. “We deliberately designed the processing of the case study to be challenging. The participants had to sift through and process a large amount of information in a very short time. In addition, the teams had to make decisions very quickly and finally pitch their results in front of a committee,”says Michael. “We designed the case study together with the former head of Audi production planning, Arne Lakeit. His practical expertise has greatly enhanced the format.”

Anyone who wants to survive in such a demanding environment needs the right tools. The boot camp was repeatedly interspersed with training content on various topics: conflict management, pyramidal structuring, solution-oriented ways of working. Professional trainers from the xm-institute taught content by means of lectures and practical exercises.

Collaboration in virtual space

Most of the boot camp participants took part from their living room or study at home. The right methods and tools were therefore required for successful collaboration in virtual space. The Zoom video platform formed the basis for the participants' daily exchange. In addition, virtual whiteboards and the digital learning platform Moodle were put to use. Some of the boot camp’s learning content has also been digitised for virtual output. For example, "Delegation Poker": the xm-institute converted the actual "analogue" deck of cards for digital use. It is a card-based method that teams use to quickly agree responsibilities and decision-making powers.

PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement
Matthias Bauer in consultation with his colleagues.
PSW automotive engineering GmbH: digitales Projektmanagement
At the end of an intensive boot camp day, there is nothing better than a beer online with fellow participants.

In comparison: digital vs. analogue

“Working in digital space has its own challenges, as revealed by participant and vehicle safety expert Matthias Bauer: “during the boot camp, we received extensive training in virtual work. In presentations, for example, it is very important to increase your presence through the use of your voice and active gestures in front of the camera in order to be convincing.” In addition to requirements when presenting, successful virtual collaboration is also heavily dependent on a methodical and structured approach: “Responsibilities and tasks must be clearly established to efficiently achieve objectives,” explains Matthias. “If you're sitting in the same room, anything that is unclear can be dealt with faster than with virtual collaboration.”

Steep learning curves and online beer

“During the four days, the participants constantly improved. What appeared to be an almost insurmountable task on the first day was made possible through consistent teamwork and dedication. “As in previous boot camps, our colleagues showed a very steep learning curve with the virtual output," says Erhard. “The cohesion and team spirit were first-class and our colleagues did an excellent job in the final pitches. Success also celebrated with a well-earned beer online.”

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