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The next generation of Planners

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Alex Wong
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Dear All,

Always want to know your views on this topic

Should we (planner/planning industry) actively train the next generation o planner?
If we should, how, are we doing enough as a industry, how can we promote this career to the young people.
And a self assessment, How many planners you had train or mentor in your entire career?

Cheers

Alex

Replies

Richard Spedding
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I think my response appreciates that there are other planning disciplines out there, my brother works in aeronautical engineering, and my best friend is a senior planner in one of the big 3 automotive companies.

In these, for the sake of argument, mechanical engineering teams the planner is very closely tied in to the cost engineering front.

In civils, building and to a large extent oil and gas, the planner is an adviser to the management team and has been divorced from the cost because of the manner in which the project is procured and the risk bought. There is now a very strong trend towards planners producing EVA and similar management tools, even if only on major projects at the moment. This is IMHO a GOOD THING and should be encouraged.

In that case I can agree that Cost Engineering is closely allied to planning as a discipline, but I also think that we are better gaining accreditation in our own fields rather than one which is currently unrecognised in our industry.
Guy Hindley
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I would agree with your sentiemnts, although recognise that many Planners work outside the construction industry. I work in aerospace and the need for Earned Value is often a contract requirement from our Customers. The ACostE competnency framework covers most aspects of Planning, both time and cost, although it is weak on work definiton and risk.
I would echo your sentiment that as Planners we are better off in wider Project Mgt professional bodies, as we need to also influence our colleagues who are not Planners to ensure that the Projects we are involved with are delivered successfully. It is for that requirement that I am heavily involved with the APM and aim to influene the wider Project Mgt community and have the importance of Planners recognised.
My current employer (who is international) has recognised and is using the ACostE competency framework for the development of its Planners. I certainly don’t know of any better framework.
Richard Spedding
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What benefit would planners gain from being allied to Cost Engineers? It appears to me that most (not all by any means) planners contributing to Planning Planet are involved in construction. Most construction management would run a mile from Cost Engineers - they are the ones who won the B* tender in the first place and made the mistakes that helped our wonderful organisation come first.
We need to be part of the team if we are to be useful in our role.
First I have heard of the UK organisation. Surely most of us would be better off allied to CIOB, ICE or APM, let alone the PEO, which appears moribund at the moment, although it seemed a good idea at the time.
Discuss
Guy Hindley
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In the UK the ACostE has been involved with NVQ’s in Project Controls at a level 4 and level 5. The level 5 seems to have an equivalency to a degree level and are based solely on evidence. I am led to believe that most UK based employers would snap the hands of anybody with an NVQ level 4.

The American Cost Engineers (USA based) have I understand recriprical arrangements with the UK based ACostE.

Hope this helps. Guy
Ronald Winter
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John,

There already is an international certification using those same initials, the Planning & Scheduling Professional (PSP) certification as overseen by the AACEi. You can read more about this popular program at http://www.aacei.org/certification/CertBrochure.pdf. Good luck!
John Alba
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I think the new generation could be for planners how has an international certification from PMI, base on the worldwide knowledge accepted the new certification is call “Project scheduling Professional”, as a member of the PMI I am working actively in this matter. Besides I would like your opinion regarding this coming certification to professionalize the scheduling discipline.

Regards,
John
Chris Oggham
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Clive,

It sounds like you’re describing life after New Labour.

Chris Oggham
Charleston-Joseph...
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Hi Alex,

Please elucidate your idea of the new generation of Planners.


As per Clive: "The next generation of planners maybe there will be none."


As for me, each newborn are new generation of planners. These are cute little babies, but, definitely they will become planners someday. They maybe not the planners in the same levels as what we are talking here, but definitely, these newborn babes will be the next generation of planners.

As parents and member of the PP community, the best we can do is to train our children to be the best ever planners of thier life. No need to use Primavera P3v3.1 or P5, Microsoft Project, etc., etc. What the new generation of planners needs are practical planning approach in life that will help them in there day to day activities to achieve goals.

Cheers,

Charlie
Clive Randall
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And the oil ran out
the computers crashed
and time no longer became really important
the real issue was how to get the highest quality of life
The next generation of planners maybe there will be none.
Alastair Morrison
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Gents

My perception is that the Project Engineers , Design Engineers , Site Manager etc treat planners as an adminstrative role in these modern times, as the role has deskilled itself over the past decade due to the introduction of the more sophisticated planning tools available. You wil tend to find ex office managers , or admin managers and similar who are adept at manipulating software packages, enrolling themsleves on P3 courses for example and re labling themselves as planners. A good planner or planning engineer to me is what it says ...an engineer who has developed a skill for planning through knowledge of the engineering processes within his/her environment and secondly a very good grasp of planning philosophy which comes with on the job experience and appropriate mentorship coupled with the standard training courses available. Most good planning engineers I know have had an engineering or science background and developed their planning career over a period of time suitable to any good apprenticeship or educational timescale. These planning engineers are worth there weight in gold as they can plan the work with logical sequence from start to finish without just enough interaction from the project engineers and not take up all the engineering resource time to produce a plan therefore making them a valuable and productivce resource to the project. Other planners I have come accross do not hold these detailed engineering skills and hence only schedule produce based on what the engineers dictate on a task by task basis almost like drip feeding the data to the planner all the way through the plan build process. These are only my opiions but I think valid.

Rgds

Alastair
Richard Spedding
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Dear Charlie

The main problem is those organisations which take the view that they do not need planners - because the site managers / project managers need to own the programme, they should produce it in the first place, therefore why have a planner.
Maybe 50% of organisations think like this, and only have one or two tender planners for work winning, then call on forensic planners when they get to claim situations.
The rest of the enlightened employers have a planning department, but as has been said elsewhere, good planners need experience. Therefore planning should be part of the career path for site managers / package managers / assistant project managers once they have been on a few projects and on their way to bigger and better things - and maybe even those of us that turn it into a full time career!
So - I believe the next generation of planners is already working on site, and needs educating into the ways of planning.

I hope your great great grandsons and daughters all grow up to be good planners so they can keep their ancestors in the style to which they have become accustomed!
Charleston-Joseph...
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Alex,

One small steps for this new generation of planners is to become a member of PP.

Let them become a member of PP first, then, we will see what trainning they will neeed.

Or if ever this new generation of planners are already members, then, let them speak out what they want.

Opps, ha ha !!!

BTW, how do you define the new generation of planners????

or Who are the new generation of planners? Is he/she my great great grandsons/grandaugthers????


Cheers,

Charlie
Santosh Bhat
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As an observation - so many positions on offer these days usually require 5-10+ years experience. Yet so few are offered that allow training or development of knowledge.

As the industry and career conditions switch to short term stints with employers - as part of this ability to be flexible and adaptable etc... so too goes any incentive for employers to spend money on training and development of staff, particularly younger newly graduated staff.

Why train someone if you know they’lll up and leave in six months time? And similarly there’s only a certain amount of training and development can do on their own by reading/attending courses. As previously said on this thread experience can’t be bought.

Unfortunately I don’t have the answers but is this shortage of planners a symptom of the modern workforce?
Alex Wong
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Gents

Do we need to do more to train the next generation of planners??

How??

Can we do it in a more intellegent way??

there is no easy path to become a experience planner, so how can we ensure there is enought planner out there to supporting us or the industry??

Your input please

Alex
Alastair Morrison
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Gents

You all are obviously well versed and experienced planning engineers, now there is a name are we allowed to call ourselves planning engineers? or is it just planners? I personally manage a planning department therefore I get away with planning manager by default only.
I started out a tradesman, Mechanical Eng / Instrumentation Tech then later after serving my apprenticeship and a further 4 years onsite I graduated to the drawing office where I spent a year on the board drawing stuff , I was offered a chance of a promotion to planner , not knowing what a planner was at this stage I tentatively took the position as I thought ok there are 30 draughtsmen but there will only be one planner the odds looked good.... spent a lot of time with senior planners with 20 to 30 years experience from contractors world , learning all the methods known to man ! From drawing the Fishtail diagrams, (PERT CHARTS) on the drawing board on A0 Paper to using the Gemini method of brown paper excersises to identify the scope of work along with buuilding a Critical Path. The the PC took over with DOS version of PMW , Artemis 7000 and Artemis Prestige which bacame views then a spell of MS Project, Open Plan and finally P3 along with the usual complement of spreadsheets , Lotus 123 then MS excel.
Since then I have been planning engineer , Planning Manager, Senior Planner and finally with a degree in Mech Eng behind me got a project managers position within the transport industry, to be fair not a great deal of difference initially untill I became involved in the engineering of level crossings and the planners started asking me difficult questions ! ! ! talk about turning the tables ! Anyway I have moved back to my roots now and once again planning & cost manager for an automation , instrumentation specialist company only minutes from my home rather than hours away as before. Only problem is they have MS Project 2003 which is becoming more and more restrictive as the clients as for more and more methods of control and analysis these days with "Quad Charts " etc etc , P3 V5 is on its way ...
Reading back this looks like a rwesume haha sorry got carried away in nostalgia , but its a good thread guys and Id love to hear other experiences ....
Chris Oggham
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Clive,

You’ve summarised things superbly and I completely agree. I don’t know what else to say other than you know exactly where to put the knife [DELETED BY MODERATOR].

Chris Oggham
Clive Randall
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Alex
Good to see you
To go back to your original question
Should we train planners and have you trained a planner
The answer to the former is most certainly yes, I for one learnt my planning from a planner who mentored and encoraged me to understand the basics of planning.
At that time it was all stencelling and letraset tape so you thought a lot about what you wanted before you started There was no undo key except the bin
Now of course we have the software, again in its early days the likes of Artemis on PC could cope with about 1000 activities and then would go walk about you had to plan the structure of your programme to ensure you did not get to the critical number.
In the early days of MS Project you could not produce a sub network it was either all or nothing which indicated to me that MS was and is still on a gnatt chart writer.
Now
I am not an academic snob mainly because unlike Charlie, I did start in Construction as a labourer before graduating to trhe soft hands brigade. I can understand how long something should take to do and think my way around how it should be done. When I started as an Engineer I spent the first 2 years as a surveyor banging pins in [DELETED BY MODERATOR] but I did learn
Now everybody wants the easy route [DELETED BY MODERATOR]that leads to being able to chair a meeting with no knowledge of the problem in hand.
What will planners be like in the future, the same as the good ones are now
People who have the ability to think logically in 3 dimensions and produce a plan that can be communicated and understood by others. Whether this is done manually, electronically or in a form still to be determined will not deviate from the skills the planner requires
As to mentoring others I have never ceased to do this and have trained numerous planning engineers In a way this is why PP is very special as it opens up the ability to everybody to mentor on a world wide bais
Finally
Charlie we as you are aware will never agree on what makes a good planner you I feel believe it requires academic qualifications while I believe it requires the ability to think logically and communicate, a skill education alone does not provide
Clive
Alex Wong
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Charlie

What you descirbe is no longer a science fiction, its reality, planner dont need to look like ET.

however, we still need a brave organisation willing to take this risk to implement such system

Al
Charleston-Joseph...
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Hello to all PP,

I think they will be like ET, extraterrestial.

They will have antenae and they will be able to get real time information using next generation mobile (cellphone technology) hook up to ym (yahoo messenger)and WLAN (wireless locan area network).

The boss, a very old timer like us, will be feed with information to help in making decision (actually, to inform the unfortunate that there information is history).

cheers,

Charlie
Alastair Morrison
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Exactly Charles, the companys are to blame sometimes... what happens is Managers or project Engineers , more HR see various CV’s entering there systems with planner splashed all over the CV but with no real technical backup for what the individuals perception of planning is. The Manahers who are employing look for key words, maybe P3 or Artemis etc and that is enough for them. At Interview stage if the interviwer knows what they are looking for and talking about then the interviewee should at this point be realised as planner in name only and not adept at the technical issues revolving around good engineering planning. But alas you are right it is part of the industry now and we have to live with it unfortunately but it does become more difficult to keep the skill level at high if these pretenders infiltrate the industry more and more.
Charleston-Joseph...
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Alistair,

I agree with you. due to high demand of planner, the quality deteriorated. This is also some organization are stingy so they opt for "as long as there is a word planner, planning in the cv, then ok will hire them".

We can not blame anyone really. This is just how the world revolve. The best to do is to live and let live together.

Are you aware of the big story here in PP regarding planner (housewife, labourer, wedding planner, etc.).

Eventually, we will start to accept alien planners...

Cheers,

Charlie

Alastair Morrison
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I have noticed the deteriation of planning skills over the past 4 or 5 years. I spent a number of years in the Railway Industry and the P3 planners I employed within this indfustry had a very good grasp of the P3 software and utilising the various tools ie excel with P3 to get maximum planning output. But from other lighter industries, ie Telecoms and electronics I noticed a vast difference in skills and ability. The chemical , oil & gas industry had a lot of pretenders unfortunately, most on contract basis. Men who had once been fitters or tradesmen that had moved into the planning world through internal promotion... these who have not spent time developing the planning skill rather than software skills struggle.
There are planning courses available through open learning and university which i would recommend but you still cannot beat working alongside an experienced planning engineer from the world of Foster Wheelers/ Jacobs etc that have been in the industry and proven themselves over the last 20 to 30 years.
Michael Castelli
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Ronald,

Thanks a bunch. That web site has just what I need.

Michael
Scott Hastie
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Thanks for the advise Richard, it is much appreciated

Cheers

Scott
Scott Hastie
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this is an interesting thread, i myself have been a junior planner for the last 2 years and got into the job just by chance, but really enjoy it and decided i wanted to make a career out of it.

Although i am getting experience in planning / Project Management and the oil & gas industry, i have no college or university qualifications, just the Quals from my school days.

Would this possibly hold me back in time, when applying for senior planner jobs in the future.

Alot of planning jobs i look at are asking for a minimum of HNC / HND in an engineering subject.

Cheers

Scott
Ronald Winter
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Michael.

The website for Ron Winter Consulting has a published paper section (http://www.ronwinterconsulting.com/published.htm) that you might find interesting. I recommend, “How to Befuddle a College Professor (without Really Trying)”, “Longest Path Value”, and “How to Manually Determine the As-Built Critical Path)" if you are curious about the ‘old school.’ Good luck! (P.S. You won’t find the ‘old school’ AT school.)
Stephen Devaux
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Michael,

My web site has an article that I presented at the PMI Global Symposium a few years ago. Included in the article is a network, with the forward and backward passes. Also, DRAG computations for the critical path activities.

All of the software packages will do the forward and backward passes, but no standard packages compute DRAG, which is crucial information for optimizing the CP. If you don’t understand the info in the diagram, I urge you to get hold of my book, Total Project Control, which has 94 pages devoted to critical path scheduling. My publisher (John Wiley & Sons) insists on overcharging for it ($89, I believe), but a lot of both univerity and public libraries have it, too.

The article and diagram is at:

http://www.totalprojectcontrol.com/TPC/tpc.html

Good luck, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.
Michael Castelli
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Hello,

I suppose I would be considered in the next generation of planners. I am 26 years old and am employed as a project engineer for a general contractor. I have about 2 years experience in MS project and one year experience in P3. I just got back from a training seminar for P5. I really would like to learn the ’old school’ method of project management (the manual forward/backward pass, manually calculating float, etc). My education background is computer science, and i am about to go back for a masters in CS, but am drawn to the programming aspects of P5. Can anyone point me to some sites discussing this (ex. advanced filter logic). Thanks
Chris Oggham
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Hi Alex,

I take your point, cowboy planners exist because there aren’t enough real planners to go round. So to prevent them damaging the profession, even more than they have already, we have to do something.

I think the basis of the action to be taken lies in previous posts by both Richard and Brennan in this thread. Namely by coaching, mentoring and training so that new planners can begin to develop the mindset necessary to become a real planner and not a cowboy.

We have to share our experience so that they can develop their own; it’s not going to be an easy ride for anybody, but to preserve the standards of the profession, it’s something that will have to be done.

Chris Oggham
Alex Wong
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Richard

Totally agree, this type of planner is what I call cowboy planner where they know how to drive the software but not the planning principle. This is because we, unable to meet the demand out there. As a result, non project base, planning background operator become what I call the cowboy planner. Some of them will grow to become a real planner but majority will cause damage to the profession.

What can we do as the leaders of the professional group.


Alex
Chris Oggham
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Hi Brennan,

You’re absolutely right, of course. If we don’t train the next generation of planners we run the real risk of diluting or even losing the skills required. Planners will become too reliant on software and, without that thorough grounding in the basic principles of planning and scheduling, will be unable to make the contribution to the project that they should.

Chris Oggham
Brennan Westworth
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in answer to your question Alex, I firmly believe that we should be training the next gen planners. I have seen too many young engineers thrown into planning positions and battling to keep up with the position, often at the project’s expense.

I have trained about 4 junior planners during my career, two are now professional planners, one a project engineer and the other has moved onto a project management role.

I think that regardless of wether they continue as professional planners or take up other roles on projects, a good grounding in the basic principals of project planning and scheduling will prove to be valuable to them and the organisations they work for.
Brennan Westworth
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two out of three aint bad :)
Charleston-Joseph...
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Hi Alex,

Around 5 planning engineers only

Why you want to know

Cheers

Charlie