In primitive societies enterprises like: survival, hunting, farming, communal living, communication, wars and calamities, etc. required some degree of management skills. Over a period, many of these activities became so routine that they did not require any distinctive effort. However, unique management skills were required whenever the endeavours were unprecedented in nature.
The ambit of management skills later developed into two distinct streams: Administrative management and Technical management. Things or happenings that involved only routine tasks, even if complex, could be handled by Administrators. However, for problems posed for the first time, and when successful solution at the first attempt was very necessary, required many logical inputs (scientific) and intermediate testing. These types of situations were handled, by `techno-experts‘.
In past, governments that were overwhelmingly involved with their political survival and related war efforts, techno-experts were also the military leaders. Technical management was a domain of military efforts. These holds true even today, for many autocratic nations. In most of the countries, space, communications, electronics, transport, marine engineering and similar fields are controlled by the military or require their initialization and sponsorship. To some extent, the perception that affairs of the Government are either military affairs or civil matters (non-military), is still continuing.
Civil matters required an input of technology that was well established and was not likely to see any rapid obsolescence. On the other hand military efforts occurred over an extensive terrain and in a very intensive time scale. Which required on the spot decisions, improvisation and strategic insight. Military affairs required a unique engineering contribution.
In today’s world management has come to mean many things to many people. But even then broadly three classes of management have emerged: GOVERNMENTAL, BUSINESS AND ENGINEERING.
■ In Governmental management: administration, legal frame work and intendance of wealth, generally predominate.
■ In Business management: public relations, communication, resource planning, strategy and methodology, market management, are dealt.
■ In Engineering management: all pioneering human endeavours are planned, operated and serviced with infusion of technology.
Engineering management is necessary when:
1. An activity is required to be accomplished in a shorter time frame.
2. An activity spreads out over a vast terrain, and over which physical control gets diffused.
3. An activity is so critical that its non accomplishment or inadequate performance could result into a grave risk, fatalistic hazard or substantial disadvantage.
4. An activity is unprecedented in nature.
5. An activity involves such risks that its management or compensation is not feasible.
6. An activity is such that its full comprehension cannot be made till full size tests or actual enactment takes place.
7. An activity may have to be carried out in spite of resources shortage.
Engineering-management plays many different roles. Primarily, it helps in efficient infusion of technology in various types of situations. Engineering management is more often than not, required to provide the `technical’ advice and solution, or interpret the `technical’ feedback to the administrator or manager. It is true that in fields where the technology has been sufficiently ingrained and conditions are predictable, non engineering experts can manage or administer the situation.
High technology situations arise in many work areas of government and business. Most high technology situations require a coordinated working of several different technologies to achieve a new level of specialization. To manage it not only technical skills but administrative and business skills are also necessary. A very experienced person with a multi disciplinary exposure can perhaps handle such a situation provided he has some administrative or business management experience. The later skills are required for better communication with administration or business management experts who may be concurrently working on the project.
To handle a high technology situation, a leader who is a broad-based technologist capable of understanding and integrating the relevant technologies is required. But engineering and design graduates in the initial stages of their career have no such education, skill or experience to handle a situation that calls for coordinated working of several different technologies. Even where they have had a multi disciplinary exposure, have no capacity to comprehend the job, plan a setup for it, to recognize and assign tasks, to monitor the task performance, to develop new specialization or equip the organization for complex tasks.
In situations where technical contribution is necessary, designers and engineers who have had several years of varied working experience and consequent maturity, or fresh students of design and engineering branches who have gone through advanced academic courses in business management, are called in. An experienced designer or engineer with a varied exposure usually gains circumstantial administrative and business management skills, but very late in a carrier. A fresh design or engineering students with an MBA course usually lacks in multi (design+ engineering) disciplinary exposure.
To manage a business commercially or any non business organization administratively, business management training or exposure may be adequate. However, situations requiring substantial technical contribution, such as: conception of complex entities, design, implementation, production, operations, and servicing of engineering projects, systems, gadgets and components, resource planning, material procurement, environmental engineering, quality control, specifications preparation, standardization and procedural documentation, some different sets of skills are necessary.
Engineering management requires a competence that is substantially different from business management.