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Number of planners on a project

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Stuart Cooper
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I would like your opinions, methodologies, algorithms, etc for determining the size for a planning team.



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Zoltan Palffy
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Naveed Tariq I find that had to believe or you do very small projects. That is over kill 1000 activities per planner would mean on a project with 10,000 activities you would have 10 planners. Even if there are 10,000 activites not all are being worked on at the same time. Some are complete, some are in progress and some in the future.Typically you are only working on 2% to 5% of your remaining activities on any given month. So for a 10,000 activity schedule you would only be working on 200 activiites. As the schedule goes forward in time the raming activites goes down which means the number of activities remaing go down, For instance the site subcontrator may no longer be needed or the Steel subs leaves the site and the finish subcontractors move onto the site.  

Kunterhan A Özdemir
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I have read the previous comments regaring the number of planners required for a project or projects
Considering the last reply was on 2003, 
up to day, did anybody find a chance to generate a theoritical formula about how to determine the size of the planning team?

Joanne Foster
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i believe that 1 experienced planner can handle 4000-7000 line items in a schedule....where as an inexperience planner would probably max out at around 2000 line items.

Jaco Stadler
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Sigfredo

Very good answer.

I just feel your senior Planner should have a wider knowledge of the project. He should have knowledge of the following.
1) How the plant is start up. (Commisioning)
2) He should Know the Engineering Phase
3) He should know the Procurement Phase

I would also go further and say he is the person that will select the planning team and assign them.

He should also be the person who will join the project in the OME phase to set the initial timeline.

He plays a major role in the DFS phase of the project because his input into the project implementation strategy plays a major role in the.

Cheers
Se de Leon
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Hi guys,

Sometimes number is not the issue but the skills. You may have a lot of planners that is really good in construction planning, but if they can not do a comprehensive programme such us doing it correctly in P3 or other softwares, I think this is not a good organization.
What you may have sometimes are good P3 users but are not extensively exposed in construction planning, in this case you will end up producing an unrealistic plan.

IMHO,the following composition of a planning team at the minimum for large projects should be the following:

Planning Manager: he could be the contracts manager because a planning manager should be the one who considers the constractual aspects of planning aside from managing the planning team.

Sr. Planner/Lead Planner/Asst. Planning Manager - he should be the one with extensive exposure in construction works, methodologies, technology etc. He could be a former construction manager with P3 background. He is the one who really directs how the work should be done. He coordinates with construction people in resolving planning issues.

Asst. Planners(no. depends on how big is the project) - as much as possible, all of them should have exposure in construction planning. At least one should be very adept extensively with the use of the project management software. He is the one who will really make the proper set-up, coding, resource coding, autocost rules etc. etc. He is like an IT guy who can play with data from one software to another without exerting too much effort in it because he knows a lot of techniques to accelerate planning works.

Sometimes having one very good "set-up" planner can do the job of 3 not so good in PM softwares.

The last group should be the trackers. Others call it data capturers. They don’t need to know PM software, what they do is capture all the data required in planning and specially during the implementation stage.

My point here is, you don’t need a lot of planners with the same skill to do the job. It’s a matter of knowing what they should do and what skills you need to do the job.

Se
Naveed Tariq, PE,...
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As per our experience for a detailed resource/cost loaded schedules being weekly statused.

1 planner/1000 activities.

Again another emperical formula based on some number of projects.

40 activities are under progress in a schedule of 1000 activities in a week.

Average 5 resources per activity.

Makes up 40*5 = 200 data items are to be looked upon in a week.

Furthermore planner is also looking for the future trends on his schedule.

So we in our organization takes 1 planner for every thousand activities.
Cyril Armentia
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Hi Eric,

Thanks for clarifying, yes i misundertood. Sorry for that.

Those positions "Data Capturer, Site Planner, Lead Planner and the rest of the positions within the planning team were always met by me when I work in Saudi Arabia.

I agree that we are all planners as being in the planning team. Maybe other companies use these positions to identify the function of each individual member of the team.

But as what I understand during my time in the 90’s in Saudi Arabia, most companies are adopting the American system of organization. Your company is in the USA but it seems that the organization of planning team (in term of naming a position) is quite different in those companies I worked with known to have adopting an American System.

As you may know, there are companies here who have position for the following; Structural Planner, Piping Planner and E&I Planners. Yet surprising, but I think this is for the purpose of identifying the limit of their functions. This means that they always use more that 1 planner in a project.

Regards,
Cyril
Singapore

Eric Chou
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Hi Cyril,

I think you misunderstood my comments. I said that I haven’t heard about the positions of "Data Capturer" or "Site Planner" (Why not just call it a Planner?). Based on my experiences in Los Angeles, USA, we often call Scheduler or Planner. Some larger companies (or projects) may have different positions for junior or senior schedulers (planners).

Best Regards,

Eric Chou
HTC Project Controls, Inc.
Cyril Armentia
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Hi all,

For me, the number of planners on a project should be One (1) Team in a "theoritical manner" comprising of Planning Manager or Senior Planner, Planner or Asst Planner and another assistant for data capturing. This is regardless whether your company is small or big and whether the project is simple or complex.

The number of planners in a team may vary depending on the Client requirement and the company’s capability of employing. Likewise the complexity of the project.

All of your opinions are correct and I agree as I know that they were based on your experiences. Somehow actual project implementation turns-out to be different from the "theoritical manner" in some cases. From Darrell, yes it happens in actual. There are companies handling project without a planner. From Eric, yes One (1) planner and I agree because I am a victim of it too because I’m handling 2 to 3 projects from small to large scale in simultaneous implementation. I don’t know how I cope-up with it and the only difference I found in myself is that my black hair turns grey faster.

One thing I could say that if your company wants to maintain its "reputation" it must always stick to the theoritical manner.

But I was suprised from Eric that you didn’t hear about planners. Our scope and role as a planner or scheduler is always "planning and scheduling". For me there is a difference between planner & scheduler if each position will have one person.
Dayanidhi Dhandapany
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Darrel, Its really very strange to hear this news..........

Darrell ODea
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Sorry Daya,
Cannot concurr, have seen extremely big and very complex jobs, with no planners. On many occassions. We have got to begin to ask, "is there any real need for planners at all"?

Regards,
Darrell
Dayanidhi Dhandapany
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No.of Planners on a project is based on the contractual requirements as well as size & complexity of the project.
Shahzad Munawar
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Darell

This may be correct if right one can fulfill overall project requirement
Darrell ODea
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Just One, The Right One.
Its a trick question, right??

How many Planners does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Gary France
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Dear all,

I think that this debate on how many planners are required on a project is missing one vital point. Surely it depends greatly one what the role of the firm employing the planner is. For example, if the firm is undertaking a project management function, then one planner will be able to cope because he/she sets out the overall timeframe and others do the detail.

If the firm is a main / general contractor, then there will be more planning to do, and the number of planners will be higher.

If the firm is say a construction manager, then fewer planners are required because the detailed planning will be done by the trade contractors.

If the firm is a sub / trade contractor, then it depends on the size and complexity of the package of work.

This doesn’t help you with the answer, but it should help define the question a little better!

Gary France


Andrew Ng
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Hey Eric,

Conevntional Wisdom dictated that value and complexity of the project is proportionate to the number and level of the planners needed. But that is the only beginning.

One should also look at the number of internal and external meetings the team is required under the contract or otherwise to attend, as quite correctly pointed out by one of the forum participants earlier.

I would not hesitate to add the followings from my experience:-

a) the state of the progress/delays the project is at, whethere there are numerous events which affect the multitude of the activities on and off site;

b) the balance of the culpability of the Contractor versus that of the Employer in all cases of delays arisen, and

c) the claim sensitivity or the delay tolerance(pain thresholds) of the Contractor and whether he is bent on pursuing each and every of such delay events, and whether he insists on an clinical dissection of the time impacts in support of such claims.

It is inevitable that with the higher level of documentation and analysis required especially where there are disporporitonately high level of delays and claim events outside of the Contractors Control, the Contract requirement or that it was administered by the client, coupled with exceptionally combative approach taken by some Contractors towards such claims, the number of planner needed by both parties would increase although not in a linear or proportionate progression.

Best Regards


Andrew Huang
an@pri.com.my
www.project-resources.com
Jaco Stadler
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Hi Eric

I see you refer to a scheduler a term I am not use to. I have heard about it but to date I am not 100 % sure if this is the same as a planner. But then again different parts of the world different terms for the same thing.

My experience has shown that a good planner is active in the project. He does not sit behind a computer and update schedules all the time.

A Planner Major function to me is

1) Identify potential problems and resolve them.

2) Identify opportunity’s and take advantage of them (And keeping the overall project goals in mind).

3) He needs to assist in the review of Bid documents etc. and make recommendations to the PM.

4) He needs to advice the PM on decisions and impacts.

5) He needs to be able to analyze a schedule and advice on the schedule.

6) He needs to be able to generate a schedule.

7) And a lot more

Employers / Clients (On the projects I have worked on) have realize that a planner as a key part of a project success. (Not just a person that do a baseline schedule and update progress)

That is why they ensure they get their money’s worth by making sure a planner is not a data capturer because they are paying for his time and it is cheaper to have a data capturer input data than a planner.

As for the various types of planners below is a short list of the differences (As per me)

1) A Head office planner. Some times on major projects Engineering Procurement & construction is split. A head office planner will look after the Engineering / Procurement phase as well as reporting/advice senior management

2) A site planner is somebody that will look after the construction phase (With the site based procurement and engineering.) and will report to / advice the construction manager and the head office planner.

3) A data capturer is normally a nice blond great legs etc. oops and she must be able to type. (Female planners normally have a different requirements I don’t know why). Her major function is to keep the planning team moral high. In order to keep the planning team moral high she does all the input into the data bases and planning systems etc.

Example rather than having a planner data capture for 7 hours a day and plan for 3 hours. He now plan for 7 hours a day and mark up paper for 2 hours a day and have an extra hour spare. (Remember a planner is not a cheap overhead resource).



Cheers
Eric Chou
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Dear Jaco,

What I am saying is that USA employers tend to pay workers better; therefore, they work people harder by giving them more work. In my case, as a scheduler, I have to do the jobs of data input, data capturer (per your definition, I never heard about such position here), site planner (per your definition, I never heard about this position here), lead planner, etc. It is all one-man shop. That is how the employers get their money worth.

I didn’t say that construction cost is the only way to determine the numbers of the schedulers required. Normally, in a lump sum project, staff can only be hired within the limits of the budget. However, when a project is awarded, the budget has been determined. Regardless it is right or wrong, that is why I said “Justify” a scheduler. The employer will only budget a full-time scheduler when a project exceeding certain amount. Otherwise, a scheduler has to work on more than one project. Whether is actually enough for the project is not really the determining factor for the company. The employer will only hire more schedulers when it is really necessary. This is another reason why scheduling consulting has been popular here. The employer can hire temporary helps to prepare for the Baseline schedule submission or Delay Analysis which require one time and intensive efforts. Once is done, no more expenses for those people.

Whether my experience in USA can be used elsewhere or not, I don’t really know. After all, it all depends on the decision makers. They can use any methods they prefer.

Eric Chou
HTC Project Controls, Inc.
www.HTCProjectControls.com
Jaco Stadler
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I agree it depends on the planner itself but I would suggest not to assume that in America they tend to work harder. (I know everything is bigger in Texas). Please tell me what is the difference between a planner and a scheduler in America.

I have also noticed Activities are used to calculate the amount "Planners"

I again disagree because a planner is not a data capturer he needs to plan and not get to involve in data capture depended on activities.

I would also suggest that you can not put a value on a project.

Example below is a couple of my last projects

US$ 24 M = 1 Head Office Planner 1 Site Planner & 1 Data Capturer
US& 40 M = 1 Head Office Planner 2 Site Planner
US$ 670M = 1 Head Office Lead Planner / 4 Site Planners / 2 Data Capturers
US$ 460M = 1 Head Office Lead Planner / 3 Site Planners 2 Data Capturers
US$ 230M = 1 Senior Planner

My conclusion is that money can not be used to determine the amount of planners required.

That is why I have used meetings as a simple guide to determine the size of a planning team.

On meetings you can apply various constraints example distance/time etc.

Cheers
Eric Chou
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Give you a practical example.

I used to work for the General Contractor on a $ 450 million (US dollars) New Hospital Project in Los Angeles. I am the only scheduler on that project. After I left, I think there are two schedulers over there.

However, the above is an extreme case. I suggest that you can justify a full-time scheduler (for a General Contractor) for a project with $ 80 million construction cost in USA.

The point is that it all depends on the capability of the scheduler, the budget, the scheduling requirement, and the country. In USA, people tend to get pay better, therefore, you have to work harder too. In Asia, more staff may be used.

Eric Chou
HTC Project Controls, Inc.
www.HTCProjectControls.com
Shahzad Munawar
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Conclusion is that number of planners based on two basic major factors

a) Size of project

b) Complexity of project

By following above criteria you can easily manage Planner Team on a project
Alex Wong
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I think some how related to the number of activity in the programme.

If the project have 1000 activities and only monthly update is required. One planner can handle few of these projects.

If the project have 100,000 activities and weekly as well as monthly update is required. 1-2 planners is required plus a planning manager handle the analysis + client/claims...

So it all depends on the size/complexity of the project. The bigger and more complex the project, the more activities will be required.
Jaco Stadler
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I use a simple rule how many meetings/Day/Week do you have to attend. Based on this I determine the amount of planners required. This will normally indicate project size and specific requirements. I personally attend average 5 meetings per day. (5 to Many) I have found this the maximum I can Manage
Stuart Cooper
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Thanks for your reply Shahzad

Generally my planning experience is on high value, fast track projects, where planning has much focus and is considered to add value. The team you defined would have a perfect fit. However, currently I am working in a multi–project, low value per project environment, where as a general rule it would be impossible to justify 1 planner per 10 projects. Thus my interest in this subject. The variables listed below I believe would effect the size of the planning team. The problem is weighting their effect and developing a considered proposal, other than a personal opinion.

· project criticality
· number of projects i.e. in a multi project environment the greater the number of projects the greater the number of reports.
· reporting cycle
· complexity of project
· duration of project
· quality of team members
· integration of software used
· planning processes and procedures
Shahzad Munawar
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Firstly requirement of planners depends upon size of project. Usually on a large scale project, a planner team may be accommplished as under:

a) Manager Planning
b) Planning Supervisor
c) Sr. Planning Engineer
d) Junior planning Engineers (2 Nos)

This is general view.