Why is project management so important for Harro Höfliger?
Our orders are technically very demanding and time frames are usually tight. Therefore, it is necessary that everything is structured and transparent. Consequently, at Harro Höfliger project management means that all individuals responsible for a project work together in a team. To this end, across all divisions, we clearly define responsibilities and tasks within the project. This enables project teams to work efficiently without compromising our most precious asset, the creativity of our employees. Professional project management is a solid pillar for us, because it assures the reliability of process operations and thus the high quality of our products. This is what our customers rely on.
What are the responsibilities of a project manager?
First and foremost, I am the direct contact for my customers. Additional core tasks include project planning, conducting design reviews, managing project processes and regular reporting. During the planning phase I prepare a schedule defining the sequence of required work activities which I coordi-nate internally and also with the customer. I clarify open points, answer questions on requirement specifications and make sure that the order is clearly defined for all parties involved. That way everyone gets the information they need. When a project is close to the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), it is my job to perfectly plan the forthcoming customer visit so that customer acceptance and dispatch can proceed according to schedule.
Why are there two project managers for every project?
We rely on a well-coordinated dual leadership. As “technical project manager” I concentrate primarily on the technical implementation and achievement of the technical project objectives whereas the “sales project managers” keep an overview of the “big picture”. They plan, control and initiate corrective measures if something gets “out of control”. Moreover, they are in constant contact with the customer. This creates transparency, both internally and externally, and forms the basis for a trusting customer relationship. Naturally, I am also always at the customer’s disposal for technical questions.
How is the quality of project management processes ensured?
For the past year or so, Harro Höfliger has been offering project managers an extensive qualification program. The certified project manager training is carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the German Society for Project Management (GPM, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA). Building on experiences gathered, after completion of a project I always invite everybody involved to a so-called Lessons Learned Meeting. In this review, we reflect on the entire project in order to identify strengths and weaknesses from an organizational and technical point of view. These findings provide a perfect source of information for my colleagues for future projects. Our goal is to avoid the same mistakes in new projects. Although mistakes are “permitted”, they are not to be repeated.
Why are there special project managers for foreign customers?
Many customers speak English well, however, discussing questions in their mother tongue is still a major advantage. Cultural differences – for example differences in etiquette – and people’s mentality are also to be considered. I myself am Chinese and therefore responsible for our customers from China. I know what conduct is expected of me, how I have to react to difficulties and how I can avoid misunderstandings in advance. The same applies to my colleagues whose mother tongue is Russian or Arabic. Through correct and clear communication, we avoid difficulties and save time. In addition, this creates a very special relationship of trust with our customer.
How do customers respond to the international project management at Harro Höfliger
“When Chinese companies undertake investments with German suppliers, they expect language barriers and different ways of thinking. Harro Höfliger, however, convinced us otherwise. During initial meetings, we were quickly assured that language would not be a stumbling block for the project. We have worked very well together with Ms. Su and with a focused approach. She is Chinese, speaks our language and knows our ways of thinking. This has had a very positive effect on the course of the project. If I had questions, she could quickly provide answers or clarify issues. I had the feeling of being understood, and this is important for the safe implementation of the project and for me personally.”
Dabing Hu, Production Manager, Respirent Pharmaceuticals
Photos: Tom Philippi