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WHERE should the Planner BE in the project organization

16 replies [Last post]
Carmen Arape
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HI PP members,

I would like to summarize two scenarios for the planning position in the project team:

1.- Planner under project manager line and above discipline leaders (engineering disciplines, procurement&contracts, construction). Position like auditors.

2.- Planner under project control manager who comprises planning, cost, estimating, progress and change management.

Scenario No 1 would be advisable to planning role. A planner in this position can achieve better result at the moment of developing, communicating, monitoring the schedule. The team will understand, cooperate and respect better the planning role.

In scenario No 2, the planning role is discriminated to a second class role after COST. Normally project control manager is more cost control oriented. The team does not see the importance of scheduling. The schedule is important in terms of resource loading rather than time execution.

What do you think ?

Cheers,

Replies

Carmen Arape
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Sensei,

My provocative statement triggers your good sense of humour. No doubt.

Cheers,

Neeraj Agarkar
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Hi all,
where should planner be? I feel there is good reason why planners are not standing on site giving instructions to workers. Maybe he/she should be located near the he/she PM, as far as location of office or chair is concerned.
If we are talking about position in the organisation chart, it should be just one level below Project Manager and not more.
It is another discussion, whether PM should be a planner (minimum knowledge or not)?
regards
Neeraj
Charleston-Joseph...
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HI Carmen,

YOu are making a provocative statement.

Planner sitting on the PM lap considering the PM is a woman. Do you know of a PM that is also a woman. I love to sit on her lap doing and together we will do a strategic planning session, then of course we can translate it to tactical plans (detail schedules). Please tell her to PM me, Sensei.

on the other hand, what if the PM is a "bading" (homo sapien). I dont want to sit on his/her lap. no way. so how to do strategic and tactical plans.

But most PM are made of the male hormone, strong masculine approach. I dont want to sit in his lap nor in his chair. I will just make powerpoint presentation.

Regards,
Sensei
Successful Project Management Consultant
Anoon Iimos
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Carmen,

Isn’t it a must for all Project Managers to at least know the basics of Planning before he/she can sit on the chair of the PM? Have you been to a project where the PM doesn’t care or knows anything about planning?

I would like to go back to your question, so where the Planner should be? For me, the Planner can be very effective if he/she is the PM. Or the PM must always be a Planner.
Carmen Arape
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Anoon,

GSOH ?? so do I, Planner might sit On the Project Mangers’s legs, especially if it is a woman.

Lack of Planner or planners just reporting the past, then Project manager or anyone can play the role of planner IF he/she is able to warn the TEAM where the project is going to, in terms of schedule (minimum).

Cheers,
Anoon Iimos
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Carmen,

So the Planner must sit either on the Project Manager’s chair or beside the PM always? Or the Project Manager must always be a Planner, just in case he doesn’t need one?

cheers
Carmen Arape
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Anoon,

How can I be sure ??? I can because I have played that role twice in my professional life.(in 20 years).

Convincing them , HOW?: knowing the project, working at the bottom of pyramid and rolling up information to the TOP.

Cheers,
Anoon Iimos
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how can you be sure that people at the top will use them "to make informed decisions"? say for example using a 170K lines plan?

i believe people who make decisions has their own plan as well (which only them knew). and how can you convince them that yours (plan) is really good for them?
Oliver Melling
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Carmen,

Companies with high maturity in Project Management use earned value. This reporting relates time with money and a full EV analysis cannot be done without cost and schedule information.
The saying ’time is money’ should be your reply to such people.
However, the planner is not at the tip of the decision making triangle, they are not even in the triangle.
IMO. Your role evolves throughout the lifecycle of the project but consists mainly of documenting the decision of others to enable key decision makers to make educated decisions.
ie. you document the estimates of people at the bottom, present them to people at the top - who use them to make informed decision, then you present the outcomes to the people lower down (project team).
Carmen Arape
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Oliver & Alex,

Agree with following ideas:

Alex: “I believe it is a case by case situation.” “ Project focus delivery companies vs. "Financial Focus “

And

Oliver:
“It is however impossible to ascertain where the planner should be for sure. It depends on the type of work, the nature of the stakeholders involved and most of all, the nature of the planner”

Fully agree with both ideas but I would like to add a general statement.

If a project can be seen as a pyramid of decisions . Highest areas mean decision makers. Lowest areas mean the pawn or soldiers or carpenters. If you agree that the decision making process is like the pyramid.

How on earth will you place the planners at the bottom or in the middle. ??? I have heard answers like but you work only with TIME , BUT time is not money ????

Cheers,
Oliver Melling
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Carmen, Yes the PMI.

Alex,

The PMI doesn’t think the ’matrix’ is the best model. It gives about 4 or 5 different structures as examples, for example weak matrix, strong matrix, functional etc.
And it is very unlikely to find a company that strictly adheres to on, as most places i have worked will use there own hybrid structure.
As with your comment about planners, the best structure is also best placed on a case by case basis.
Alex Wong
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Guys

It seems a bit off track with the initial discussion. The quality of the planner is a key in the industry. However, with "where" should the planner be positioned, I believe it is a case by case situation.

I do finds that some organisation have put the planner into a side just a part of the project requirement instead of performing a meaningful planning role.

More than half of the organisation I worked in the past, they are very "Financial" Focus, therefore, financial planner (CFO) is situated in key position in the organisation however, projects or portfolio planner (PMO) is rather an accessory for the project delivery team and report to the CFO instead of direct to the CEO. As a result, project delivery will lost its capability to make the right project decision.

Lucky I do work for project focus delivery companies as well in the past where the centre of the company focus is project delivery and where strategy is directly reflected and delivered in projects. And finance is only a support function of the projects.

IMHO the CEO or GM have to make the decision whether the organisation is Financial focus or Project Focus. Of course PMBok do think the matrix model is best model to deliver project if the organisation is very much rely on the success of projects delivery.

Alex
Omar Grant
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Hi Carmen, I think also that there are other issues which have seen the lowering of a planner’s status during my lifetime. How many times do you complete a feasibility study with, say, a +/- 15% possible variance on cost but nothing on the schedule! A common experience of mine is the way the overall project duration is arbitrarily imposed on the planner (for whatever reason) in complete disregard of the facts - this always leads to a lack of schedule credibility up-front with the project team and consequently the planner is robbed of his/her function even before the project is underway.

cheers,

Omar
Carmen Arape
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Oliver,

PMBok from PMI (American project management Institute ) ???

Omar,

It seems that the market offers more PMCs with cost background. In projects where you can feel the lack of planning due to the cost orientation of PMCs, everybody plays the role of planner. When I say everybody I mean discipline leaders or site managers. They feel the lack of definition, direction and they do the planning. I should recognize that some of them are really good.

Cheers,

Omar Grant
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Hi Carmen - I think that in your second scenarion, in my experience, what I often find is that modern PCM’s come exclusively from a cost background and so are often more ’comfortable’ with what they know than what they don’t. Often also there is greater pressure from ’above’ on cost than on schedule - until things go pear-shaped as they often do under this type of leadership. Many years ago a project controls engineer/manager was expected to have a rounded background of experience which included both cost and scheduling. cheers, Omar
Oliver Melling
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Carmen,

No one organizational structure fits all projects, or all companies.

Scenario 1 is a projectized structure that may better suit larger projects. This structures lets the planner become more emersed into the project team and usually means that the planner would only be involved in this one major project.

Scenario 2 is more of a functional setup that is better for use in environments with numerous smaller projects. Having a PCM or planning manager allows a more experienced thought process to be used when allocating work to the planner, something that may not need doing on some projectized projects.

It is however impossible to ascertain where the planner should be for sure. It depends on the type of work, the nature of the stakeholders involved and most of all, the nature of the planner.

For example, some major project may be projectized in the overall organisational structure but may have the functional roles of the PCM / Planning Manager, as there is a need to communicate multiple planners.

I also think you will find that the views of PCMs will differ as ones ive worked for seem to be more schedule orientated and only see cost engineering as a supplier to the EV planner.

The PMBoK is worth reading to to see the examples of various structures and i also recommend looking at the Tannanbaum and Schmidt Management Continuum. There are many cats and even more ways to skin them.