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QS vs Planner

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Who is in a better position to manage a project or I should say become a Project Manager, a 10 year experienced QS/Cost Engineer or a 10 year experienced planner?

No bias for planners please. Lets be objective in our views.

Replies

Andrew Flowerdew
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Philip,

I think we are in complete agreement on this one.
Philip Jonker
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Hi Guys,

Have read all your remarks. What do you define as a planner and what is a QS?

In my opinion, a good planner is an engineer with at least 5 years of construction experience under his belt. A QS is somebody who knows how to count beans, and has learnt to read a tape measure. So what is the argument, a planning engineer vs a bean counter? How do you solve the problem. Can the QS solve technical problems? No. Can a planning engineer solve simple arithmetical accounting? Yes.

The problem ypu obviously lost in this plot, is that projects are time related, cost related and quality related. This means that the first questions in the PM’s mind is the aforegoing, and a such he has to know about all three, experience. Further, he has to have an in-depth knowledge of the type of work involved in the project, as well as all the constraints. So who do you pick, the obvious answer, the guy with the right experience, probably not the QS nor the so-called planner.

Regards
Philip
Stuart Ness
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Andrew,

As a QS I cannot let your comments on QS’s go unchallenged!! ;-)

I appreciate that your less than happy experience with Client QS’s is not unique and that there are many such QS’s who fail miserably in being able to offer advice that is both contractually correct and beneficial to the project (i.e. in your view, to the Contractor!) Of course, such QS’s will never bite the hands that feed them, so they may be reluctant to offer advice which, from the Contractor’s viewpoint, is beneficial to the project. I do accept your view that some QS’s do lack the correct knowledge and ability of how to administer Contract terms properly from the Employer’s side; I have come across such individuals more than once. However, I have always found that if there is a QS fulfilling these roles on both sides of the contractual fence, then a very common understanding of the Contract terms can be reached and the project does benefit contractually.

I do fully agree with you, Andrew, that an Engineer trying to fulfil the role of the Employer’s contractual guru (such as the role of the Engineer in FIDIC Contracts) can be an absolute nightmare. Such individuals are never trained in contract administration, are often too full of themselves to admit their (and their Employer’s) mistakes, and their inability to administer Contracts properly and their failure to be flexible and attempt to reach constructive solutions to contractual problems, simply provides fodder for us claims consultants!! ;-)

Hope this helps!!

Stuart

www.rosmartin.com
Andrew Ng
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What has been said by Brad is true in most cases, esp in the case of QS’s administering contract for clients.

They first set for themselves so tight the rules they they did not know how to extricate themselves thereafter. Then anotehr of site QS’s come onto the site and try to breathe fires into the Contractors performance and compliance with these rules, but these rules aint working most of the time. And these QS’s have no experience or the knowledge, or the guts to advise the Clients how to bend the rules without breaking the spirit of the Contract. Afterall the clients interests are not served by playing word games or covering or ignoring design/contract documentation mistakes made during the Bid Stage, by both the designer as well as the Contractors.

As the result the Contractors go into a fight, and the projects suffers endless delays and disputes.

Worst still if Non-QS’s come into the scene in their place, I have seen some of the Engineers engaged by Leading Intl Consultants trying to administer FIDIC Contract for the first time..but they knew not the rules, the measurement not the contract. Sometimes they dont know even what is a calculator .... a non-scientific calculator that it. The result is inevitably a huge circus of mayhem on every front.

Dont know about Planners role as Project Manager, but do know for sure Engineers are 95% ill-fated to run Contract Administration on any project of any size. Got 2 arbitration experience where the engineers were stripped "naked" by the counsels who are engineers/qs by training...it was embarrasing to find themselves no more than mere kids actually.
Andrew Flowerdew
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Some interesting thoughts - as a Project Manager, turned Planner I have to answer the question as niether a Planner nor QS would be best at the job.

Each have thier specialist roles, as does the PM. The dedictated planner will know part of the QS role, part of the PM role and the QS / PM know similar of the others role.

Each should stick to thier own unless you want to make a full time change then be prepared to learn the parts of the new role you don’t know.
Jaco Stadler
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I tend to agree.

A good QS will never become a PM.
A bad QS ? never met one.

A good planner will never become a PM.
A Bad Planner. Is the PM.

Cheers
Daya Sugunasingha
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Brad
I don’t think the QS’s will agree with you
Daya
Brad Lord
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Daya

I think what i said is quite true

regards

Bradley
Daya Sugunasingha
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Lord! O Lord!
You has thrown the cat amoung the pigions!
Daya
Brad Lord
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Hi Guys

Who the hell wants to be a PM!!!!!!! I have been a planner for 15 yrs and have done most project controls activities as I am sure most of u have. Which includes cost control/Earned Value Analysis. The best thing about being a planner especially on a contract basis is that u can go home without all the hassle of worrying about the project.

I have never met a QS who knew what they are doing after all they are only bean counters and most of them cannot count without the aid of a calculator.

Anyway hope that clears it up for u

regards

Bradley Lord

Jonathan Kirby
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If your aim is to be a project manager in 10 years ...

Do both jobs at some time in the 10 years but don’t be too good at either of them.
JK
Alex Wong
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Jason,

I agree with you, as my post earlier stated, QS or Planner is not relevant, its the person skill to manage the project. PMBOK "the 9 categories of skills + integration"

Regards

Alex
Jason Brown
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Andrew -

You make a good point with respect to the concerns of the employer. However, I again must argue that the question of hiring a QS or a Planner for a PM position misses the mark - as does the notion of the employer’s desires. We have all worked for (or many of us have worked for) employers whose motivations were "impure". And as such, it is imprudent to utilize the employer’s concerns as the criteria. It should be the intent of any prospective PM to be the best in delivering a quality product in a timely manner for a maximum profit.

As I noted in my previous post, a PM’s skill set is not directly related to those of the QS and Planner. A PM must manage people. They must also know how to look at a problem/project from the "30,000 foot" level. Every project will include numerous "glitches" throughout it’s lifetime. A good PM will know to whom to turn to resolve the glitches, while keeping his/her eyes on the bigger picture. Not that they shouldn’t see the trees in the forest, but that they should have a good horticulturist available to tend to them. A good PM always maintains primary focus on the larger question at hand.

And as I mentioned before, ultimately it is the persons ability to delegate, communicate, reward and punish appropriately that determine a PMs ability. My greatest success and failure as a PM occurred on the same project. We delivered the product on time, the client loved us, and we made a boatload of money. However, my failure was not managing my employer well enough to make them understand that the bigger boatload the imagined was a fantasy. In the end, the impure desires of my bosses led to my downfall. But, I have a client for life and planners, QSes, Supers, and Subcontractors who will follow me to the ends of the earth and will spell my success for many years to come.

Of course, I should also note that I finally got out of PMing and returned to planning because, well...life’s just to short.
Andrew Ng
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What is the criteria by which the Project Manager is measured in terms of his performance? Is it timely delivery, quality delivery or delivery of the profits targets set by his Employer? Or maybe all of the above.

The circumstances under which he is required to perform of course would to a large extent determine which of the three criteria would be used as the measurement yardsticks. Or what are the priority of their importance, so fars as meeting those targets are concerned.

If the project was poorly tendered and was negatively geared even from the very start, it would take both the the people skills as well as technical skills to get the right team members including subcontractors and consultants to work together to deliver the cost and quality targets. A QS background of the PM would enable him to identify areas of potential pitfall and taking those measures to mitigate the risks associated with these exposures.

If however the tender has been won with healthy margin, the pressure on cost would be less and therefore more planning skills of the project manager would be required rather than checking the fine prints of the contract document.

However the instances of >15% margins are foreever gone fromthe construction industry other than in very specialised engineering fields. Thus claim engineering coupled with a sharp eye for planning and ability to motivate the team to get it right the first time seems to be the order of the day now for most PM’s.

I would still rather have the PM to build on a solid foundation in a field of engineering, but having his skills and knowledge of the construction delivery process polished over a few years as junior planner. He must also attend seminars from time to time to hone his skills and knowledge needed to manage the quality and cost aspects of the project. Some exposure as cost engineers would also be beneficial.

If all of the above still fail to get you the profit margin that you set out to achieve, get a bloody good claim consultant to burn a war path for you. But remember to sign him up on a contingency fees and on success basis only frienship nonwithstanding. You will have to somehow make friends with them and appreciate their particular field of expertise and limitation if any. There are many who are active members of the Planning_Planet forum and whose service to you may very well make the difference between your being good project manager or otherwise.

That might even be the most critical factor to your survival as a project manager, if you could have him as your saviour when all your chips are down.

Best Regards

Andrew Huang
www.project-resources.com

Tomasz Wiatr
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Dear masters,

this discussion is very, very interesting. Some answers are source of new knowledge for me (thanks) but I have new arguments too :-) For the question "Who is in a better position to manage a project" some guests said that NONE (neither QS, nor Planner) others said that it DEPENDS for... I have to aspect of my oppinion, first my subjective, second not mine, but more objective.

1. Subjective - my oppinion:
in the practice Planner must to know "abilities of people" to work (people like resources) so he is more suitable to be a PM but he must to acquire other competences (because planning it is only one function of management) specially if he is simply planner without any communication competences. But QS is the worst candidate :-) because he is "unhuman" :-) in his work (only effects are important). Planner have good (best) view for interdependencies of project (instead) QS see only target cost and quality (sorry).

2. More subjective arguments.
I am activist of Polish PM Association and we are associated in IPMA (not only we :-) of course). According to official meets of IPMA on the first levels (D, C) PM is not approved to control of quality because his competence is control of time and costs (we need here QS!!). In effect PM is not competent to control quality so QS and PM are separated positions with ONLY common ability to cost control (but QS is pasiv acceptant/not acceptant of costs). In this aspect Planner is better candidate to PM because he make plans/updates with costs AND he make schedules in different restrictions (human too). Planner have wider view for project with knowlegde about workers.

At the end of my oppinion - final sentence :-) On first levels of project complexity I prefere Planner to be PM BUT on higher levels "neither QS, nor Planner" ... but if I must to indicate I want to indicate Planning engineer, radically. Sorry for simplification or QS, which is probably different in different countries with his common laws but PM and PS are universal fortunately :-).

Good Luck ;-)
Stuart Ness
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Jason,

I fully agree with you. A successful Project Manager is first and foremost a People Manager!!
He doesn’t have to know all (or even any) answers to technical questions as long as he can delegate the question to someone who does know!

The worst kind of Project Manager is the one who fails to delegate properly and tries to resolve all the problems himself! We have all met that type ! ;-)

Cheers,

Stuart

www.rosmartin.com
Daya Sugunasingha
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The advice to a young person with ambitions to be a Project Manager is to endevour to be competent in a wide range of tasks and become as they say a rounded manager.
I thing the following skills would help:
Leadership and Motivational Skills
Presentation Skills
Negotiation Skills
Ability to read drawings
Estimating Skills
Quantity Surveying Skills
Planning Skills
Report Writing Skills
etc
etc



Se de Leon
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If we go back to the original question of this thread, the question was "who will be in a better position to become Project Manager, a QS or a planner?". The question further goes " who has a better edge in getting a PM job?".

I think the question does not ask "Who will become a PM, a planner or a QS?".

There is a big difference between the two questions, doesn’t it?

Yes I agree with the qualifications a PM should have mentioned in this thread there’s no doubt about that.

My answer to the original question is, the Planner. Why? In the first place personally, a planner’s work is a Project Managers work essentially. A PM gives direction what to do with sequence of work, scheduling, risk taking in schedule, resource projections and managing it, work methodology etc. etc. The reason why a PM hires a planner is because it is time consuming for a PM to do a planner’s job.

Just my personal opinion.

Cheers,

Se
Jason Brown
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I think that the best answer to the initial question of QS vs. Planner is...neither. Neither in the sense that the skill set for each is only a small fraction of the work at hand. Ultimately the best candidate for Project Management is someone who works well with others, regardless of their particular background. A Project Manager is, in fact, a PEOPLE Manager. You have to know how to manage your site supervisors, your planners, your cost engineers and, most importantly, your client.

Knowing how many nuts and bolts there are is meaningless. Knowing the manner to install them most efficiently is meaningless. Knowing what the nuts and bolts cost is meaningless. Knowing how to tell your client to jump in a lake and having them be pleased with that answer is everything.
David Watters
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Must admit I have chuckled quite a lot with the comments. Fair play to you all for keeping a good ole sense of humour.

I suppose the key question is would a QS or Project Planner - however well qualified in their field and area of expertise - be able to answer the myriad of technical questions a PM is supposed to be able to tackle and provide technical guidance to expecting engineers and the clients representatives (always a frogiving bunch bless them !).

You can always use the ole "delgation", but sometimes an answer is expected then and there. Thats when the role of the Engineer takes precedence over the ability to control. Technical solutions must be decided upon - scoping and control / change come before or after but are driven by that decision.

A good point in case is to look at smaller projects, or R&D projects where this is especially applicable (I think)

Any thoughts guys ?
Stuart Ness
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Nonsense!
Just because someone is a QS for more than 10 years doesn’t mean he is going to die with a scale ruler in one hand and his measuring tape in the other!!

Many many many QS’s who have been qualified for more than 10 years (myself included!) move on to specialise in other types of work, such a Project Management, Claims Management, Risk Management – God forbid; some even become PLANNERS!

If you qualify in a particular profession in your early 20’s, then 10 years later – in your early 30’s – you still have plenty time to move into other areas of work. My last full time strictly QS role was some 20 years ago (Yes, Chris – you know the one!! ;-) ), and since then, although my QS background is of great value to me, I have learned other skills which now dominate my working life. These days I only use my strict QS background when I prepare an Expert’s Report in Quantum for some arbitration or court case.

Technically, I am a Fellow of the Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors (and hence a Chartered QS), but I have many other strings to my bow, including many other aspects of construction management. True, I no longer use my calculator to work out numbers of bricks and cubic metres of concrete, but I do still use it to work out my billable hours in the month – in that sense, I will always be a [Scottish] QS! ;-)

Cheers,

Stuart

www.rosmartin.com
Daya Sugunasingha
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I agree with Brenan Westworth

A Quantity Surveyor with 10 years experience is a Quantity Surveyor for life

A Project Planner with 10 years experience is a Project Planner for life

An effective project manager needs to have a good understanding of these two disciplines but does not need to specialise in them... that is why we have specialist project planners and quantiy surveors.
David Waring
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And the best place to obtain that experience is with a SMALL contractor. You are forced to perform all the roles - planning, ordering, commercial, accounting, man-management - the lot - because a small contractor cannot really afford to hire specialists.
Once you’ve had the basic grounding, and managed one or two complete projects, THEN you go to work for a larger employer - and specialise.
Brennan Westworth
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A Quantity Surveyor with 10 years experience is a Quantity Surveyor for life

A Project Planner with 10 years experience is a Project Planner for life

An effective project manager needs to have a good understanding of these two disciplines but does not need to specialise in them... that is why we have specialist project planners and quantiy surveors.

My advise to you as a young person aspiring to become a project mamager is to get into a project engineering position where you will be exposed to project planning, quantity surveying, contract administration and supervision. Try to get onto projects end to end, from bidding to closeout. You should be proactive and always offer to help outside of your sphere of responsibility. While you are doing this go for PM acreditation with PMI and your local university.
Alex Wong
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I guess if you want to be a Project Manager, you have to be
1. Good technical knowledge
2. Good cost control skill (part of QS quality)
3. Well organise - be able to proritize work, schedule works
4. Know how deal with Risk
5. People knowledge - Utilise the best out of everyone in the project, including the client, suplier.
6. Good leader - Know how to manipulate or lead people
7. Handle Crisis
8. Procurement Management


These are only some quality that is required to become a project manager

So if you want to become a project manager you have to plan your carrer and learn all these no matter what you do be proactive. QS or Planner - is not the point.
Forum Guest
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PM => manage cost, time, quality and change.

My wife does all that.... so be a wife

C’mon buddies, a joke once in a while won’t hurt

Cheers,

proj_planner
razif r
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ok ok ok ...

place all of them in Kathmandu and see who ll be reaching the 1st base camp.
its their site supervisor
Rahmat Hidayat
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Cost Engineer or Scheduling/Planning Engineer? I think planner is the most appropriate candidate to be PM than cost eng’r. Cost eng’r is usually closed person and less coordination than planner in his activities because cost data is restrictive.
Forum Guest
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Gentleman,

Anyone who says that Project Services cannot affect a project in a positive or negitive way has not been in the field with a good manangement team. A Planner has the ability to set the construction tempo if he proves himself knowlegable in the field of construction.
Shahzad Munawar
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I think Planners and QS both are supporting pillars to the management not much more than. To become a Project Manager any of othem should have management skills either he is Planner or QS.
David Watters
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NONE OF THE ABOVE

Usually the Project Manager or Project Director is specified in the contract as "The Engineer" and as such Clients "usually" like to have an engineering Project Manager to deal with the technical issues / conflicts that arrise.

Project Services such as QS and Planning are there to supports them, so they are not really the critical skills needed for running a sucsesfull project.

Anyway, a QS spend all day trying to get the civvies to build a extension for free, and the planner would spend all day moaning about engineering !!
Dinesh Kumar
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Hi Guys,

I too strongly agree with thomos

Regards

Dinesh
Christian Adrian ...
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I think if you are a neophyte engineer and you would like to be a Project Manager you would have to acquire knowledge and experience in all trades (Engineering, Procurement, & Construction), it does’nt matter if you’re in the QS or in the Planning position what matters is that you have the knowledge and experience in those trades plus in contracts as well.
Forum Guest
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Hi guys thanks again for your comments.

Yes I agree with you that you really need to go through most if not all positions available as what has been discussed already. But in reality, you may be stuck in one position longer for the next 10 years of your career as what I have observed. My question here is your preference to positions that would have a better edge or should I say a better jumping board to a project manager position meaning the most likely position that would be look upon by employers when deciding hiring matters. What do you think guys? Is it a QS position, planner or perhaps a site engineering position.
Zq qz
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That’s it I STRONGLY AGREE WITH CHRISTIAN
Forum Guest
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Thanks for your comments guys.

Let me rephrase my question to, if you are a neophyte engineer and your goal in ten years is to become a project manager, what position are you going to apply for a QS or a Planner?
Ken Brown
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Could be that the QS would delay the start of the job by a few weeks ’saving’ the last £2.50 from the Cost Plan. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it in practice. I’m afraid some QS’s never stop being QS’s. Some of them on the other hand have made the bst PM’s I’ve worked with. Same answer as the others, depends on background, management expertise and personanlity. As QS’s rarely have a personality that counts them out.
Daya Sugunasingha
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Dear PP’s
I would agree with coments of Ian Thomson and Moises Donato
Regards
Daya
Gilbert Rayco
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Gentlemen:

PMBOK define Project Management as "Project Management is the application of knowledge,skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements" IMHO to be a good project manager, one must satisfy all of the criteria. Doesn’t matter whether your are QS or planner.


G.Rayco
Zq qz
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Gentlemen,
I think it’s not the position it’s the ability & experience.
Mehdi Rashidi Ala...
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Dear sir,
I agree with steve, any work is very specifying in the real world.
Ian Thomson
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After ten years in both planning and costing, I still believe we are in project support and services, so my answer would be none of them.
Pete Atkinson
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It depends on your definition of Planner. We all know what a cost engineer knows and can accomplish on any project. Should not a planner also know the task involved in cost?
I say yes.
Steve Craine
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I think a little more info is needed onto which kind of project you are referring to