Tips on using this forum..

(1) Explain your problem, don't simply post "This isn't working". What were you doing when you faced the problem? What have you tried to resolve - did you look for a solution using "Search" ? Has it happened just once or several times?

(2) It's also good to get feedback when a solution is found, return to the original post to explain how it was resolved so that more people can also use the results.

Giving a "Heads Up"

31 replies [Last post]
R. Catalan
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Dear All,

How do you update your manager when critical issues come up?

Let him wait to read about issues in a Project Status Report or meeting?


R. Catalan

Replies

R. Catalan
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Samer,

Yes I was before, but I’m pretty much ok at my current assignment. No worries at all.

This forum was intended for those Planners who presently experience anger on their jobs.

Thanks and regards,
R. Catalan
Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear R,

It seems that you are not comfortable with the situation in the project. The nice thing about a project is... "it is temporary".

So, no matter how hard and how difficult it is now, it will end. Make sure that you do the best work under all circumistances, always, and to the best of your knowledge. The ONE thing that you CONTROL 100% is your REACTION. Make sure that it is up to YOUR standard that you set for yourself. You can always start now!

With kind regards,

Samer
Christian Adrian ...
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R. Catalan

I may not know what the real scenario between the Planner his PM is, but from what I understood in you there has been a gap now. The gap could be fixed or maybe not… it would all depend on the planner... as the saying goes ‘If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen’…


Good luck to the Planner!

Dieter Wambach
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R

Planner, is he just his master’s (PM) voice? Or is it a profession?

If the planner knows something is off-track and PM refuses to discuss you’ll write an email to him containing your results and possble solutions. It’s one of his main duties to take care of his project’s health. Maybe there are political reasons, then he should explain them to the planner. Some time later the off-track situation will become obvious. What will happen? PM will blame the planner for no information and the planner will be fired.

Being planner is a strong position within a project. Don’t underestimate your value and don’t cut yourself down.

Dieter
R. Catalan
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Christian,

Roles & responsibilities is given on the table, we all know about it.

Communication standards is all over the place, rewritten for every industry with the same message, communicate!

But the real scenario always governs. If you tell the PM an update of your issue register that puts him off-track, he’ll say his busy. If you forgot to communicate, he’ll tell you you’re not doing your job.

I agree with Samer that keeping a good relationship is a priority. But sometimes between lines professionalism is being sacrifice.

Can you draw a line between you and your PM?
NO - you keep your job and just follow his lead
YES - well, you can try (i don’t with this global recession).

Thanks anyway,

Best regards,
R. Catalan



Christian Adrian ...
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R. Catalan

The Planner maybe viewed as a little PM but at the end of the day it is the big PM who has the last say... and his stakes are greater than the Planner... like others have suggested communication is highly important...

Nestor Principe
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Thanks Stephen

Frateranlly in PM,


Nestor
Dieter Wambach
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Stephen

Again you hit the nail on the top. Plannner MUST be aware of the contract and of project’s financials. They must have a solid understanding of project management to make good proposals to the pm for improvement of the plan.

But there are still some areas restricted to pm:
- She/he is the leader, the "boss"
- PM is responsible for the communication structure within the project and to outside - included direct contacts between the team members, e.g. that the planner has to communicate directly with them.
- PM is the "pipe piper" (in Europe there is an old legend: If he played his pipe all men and all animals followed him automatically. This way he cleaned the city of Hameln from rats. But when the citizens refused to pay, he played his pipe again and all young women and girls followed and disappeared forever) Sometimes pm must be such a pipe piper: all team members follow automatically his/the project’s targets.

Regards to all

Dieter

Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear R.,

Please keep in mind the 80-20 rule.

80% of the people of move up in life do so because of their social networking and relationships. It is not because they are exceptionally smart.

Make sure that you have super good relationship with all your team members and shareholders.

You will notice then that the Planner is promoted to PM not the site engineer.

Best Regards,

Samer
R. Catalan
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Christian,

Not deliverately, yes. But the Planner is acting in support of lack of knowledge by other team member. This is typical situation on a project wherein a Planner is viewed as the Little PM, and admirably, the team has directions from the PM to consult the Planner during his absence.

This is very common especially during global crisis:

First-rate Consultant Planner - become redundant, work for smaller Contractors to survive (family living with him/her)

Site Engineer - promoted to PM (former PM too expensive to keep), always seek the First-rate Planners advise in running the project

Cheers,
R. Catalan
Christian Adrian ...
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R. Catalan

I guess the planner must have stepped on the toes of the PM...
Stephen Devaux
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Hi, Se.

First, to the customer (funder), project profit = value - cost. The value the customer expects to get from the project is ALWAYS greater than the amount they budget for it, or they wouldn’t be funding it.

Second, to the contractor, although on a FP contract, it’s always viewed and managed as though Profit = Budget - Cost, there are frequently (invariably?) other business goals that provide value over and above the revenues of the immediate project. Again, the article I referenced talks about this.

A quick example: What is the expected project profit to the contractor of (1) a $10 million FP contract, expected to cost $9 million, (2) from a customer with whom there is a 90% chance of receiving a $100 million contract with expected cost of $80 million, (3) provided the first project is finished satisfactorily in 50 weeks?

The project profit for completing the project satisfactorily in 50 weeks is:

$1M + 90%($20M) = $19M

What does this suggest the policy should be in order to complete the first project satisfactorily in 50 weeks?

And there are often many other value drivers, most of which are rarely communicated to the planner.

Gotta run, all, and I’ll probably be away all weekend. I’ll tune back in next week.

Fraternally in PM,

Steve D.
Se de Leon
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Hi Steven,

Profit= Budget - Cost

Is this the value that you say as profit? If this is the case, then you can use global change command of P3 or P6 to calculate it.

If not, could you elucidate further what this is?

what is expected value data?

Regards,
Stephen Devaux
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Hi, Nestor.

Both the contractor’s AND the client’s primary objective is to make a profit, with profit defined as value minus cost. No one ever funded a project where the expected value to the funder was less than the expected cost.

Certainly the planner does time analysis, and issues progress (however that is defined!) and variance reports. But these all tend to be about schedule to a deadline, or cost, or "physical completion" (again, whatever that means). In terms of seeking opportunities to provide greater value per invested dollar, most planners simply aren’t provided with sufficient business info about the goals of both contractor and customer to know what an opportunity looks like. And, as far as I know, only one PM software product even allows entry of project expected value data. (I used to say none, but Vladimir Liberzon tells me that Spider Project has that functionality. Is there any other package that does? How does one manage an investment without focusing on expected value and profit?)

This would be a long, long topic to cover fully. But, briefly:

1. Contractors rarely itemize, far less quantify, for the team all the value drivers that resulted in the bid. And there are usually many, including future opportunities, improved cash flow, experience with new technologies, etc. etc. (A summary of many of these can be found in the article "Moneyproject" at:
http://www.projectsatwork.com/content/articles/233636.cfm )
Project scope/cost/schedule decisions without these data are tantamount to throwing pipless dice in a darkroom. As a result, almost every project winds up unprofitably either including or excluding optional work.

2. Most project team members, including planners and contract writers, do not know the cost of time on their projects (or, as is sometimes crucial, on phases of their projects). Usually, they know the potential cash penalty to the contractor for delivering later than a specific deadline (which is often pulled from the universe’s dark matter by the contract writers for customer and contractor). In the occasional situations where there is a contractual incentive for early delivery, the planner/team will usually know that. But in my opinion they NEVER know:

a. The monetized value to the customer of finishing early, which might allow the contractor to seek opportunities to compress the schedule and amend the contract with incentives for early delivery.

b. The monetized value of the increased likelihood of additional contracts from the customer because of the heightened satisfaction due to early delivery.

c. The monetized value of optional work.

d. The DRAG Cost of any CP work, so that optional CP work that costs more than its value can be eliminated or re-planned. (Since they don’t know each activity’s DRAG, they can hardly know the DRAG Cost! I suggest that fewer than 10% of planners even know enough to isolate and quantify the "marching army" costs of projects or phases, costs that would be reduced by schedule compression.)

3. Project contracts are the source of great distortion. When they make me World Supreme Commander, I’m going to mandate that any project/subproject work that does not include product/component development based on new research and/or new technology must be performed under a fixed price contract with incentives for early delivery and penalties for late delivery. (Relax! I haven’t even seen a posting for that position yet!)

By the way, Nestor, as a Homer fan, I love your first name! I’ve only ever known of one other Nestor -- Nestor Chylak, who was a great baseball umpire in the US. And the wise counsel of the original Nestor is, in my humble opinion, the perfect model for a planner!

Fraternally in PM,

Steve D.
Nestor Principe
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Hi Steve,

One important part of the periodical report prepared by the planner is the variance report and progress analysis report. In these sections of the report, the planner can always point out enhancements that make the project more valuable for either or both of the client and contractor. While I must point out contractor’s primary objecttive is to make propit.

Time analysis by the planner is part of the regular information flow in project management.

Frateranlly,

Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear R.

Per the PMBOK, 95% of the PM time is spent in communication. It would be wise to ask the PM to increase his awareness of the soft skills at that point in time.

With kind regards,

Samer
Dieter Wambach
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R.

A complete chapter (no.10) of the PMBoK is related to Project Communications Management - not without reason. Situation that you describe is a lack of pm’s expert knowledge.
A planner can just continue to do his/her job in a professional manner. Other team members, e.g. lead engineers will suffer as well. Result can be a (personal)communication structure aside the official communication and a pm who isn’t informed of his project.

Stephen Devaux
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Nestor Principe wrote:

"He should able to see before a situation is developed into an issue."

Not arguing with any of this. But why do we always think of planners, during performance, as only reacting to "an issue"? Why don’t we ever think of them analyzing and discovering cost/schedule enhancements that make the project more valuable for either or both of the client and contractor?

On many of the projects I’ve seen, the reason is the point that Dieter Wambach makes:

"Many projects I saw fail had their main reason for failure in a lack of information flow."

That in my opinion, is also the reason that planners often do not look for opportunities to enhance project value -- the business issue information that would allow them to truly be an ally to client/contractor is not communicated to them, depriving them of the knowledge necessary to look for the many enhancements possible through the detailed scope/cost/schedule tradeoffs.

Fraternally in PM

Steve D.
Nestor Principe
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Hi R,

You are putting yourself in a bad situation. I will make sure that before I give any information, I will ask the PM consent.

The PM have to be in control of every situation. He cannot control the situation if he’s receiving 2nd hand information.

Cheers,
Nestor Principe
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Dear Dieter,

It’s a little bit exagerated.

Cheers,
Nestor
R. Catalan
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All,

In some cases where the PM solely rely on his Planner’s inputs, but later was so reserved upon knowing that other project team seek the Planner advise instead of the PM.

At times the PM will just ignore Planner’s issues update due to the above reasons.

How are you going to deal this professionally?

Thanks,
R. Catalan

Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear Dieter,

I agree with you 100%.

The PM will solve the critical issues. But the detailed information that the Planner has must be submitted to the PM with good recommendations (if the planner is senior and has the ability to analyze the situtation).

With kind regards,

Samer
Dieter Wambach
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Dear Nestor

I this point we have the same opinion.
The initial question of R. or Catalan, whatever is his name, was, if he should inform the pm immediately or wait until regular project meeting. PM depends on an effective information flow.
Many projects I saw fail had their main reason for failure in a lack of information flow.
By the way: If pm receives 4 to 5 times your salary, something went wrong. How are your abilities to negotiate?

Regards
Dieter
Nestor Principe
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Dear Dieter,

The PM receives information from every member of the team, he is kept updated of the status of the works in every aspect. He has clearer vision of the big picture. He has to be in order to effectively deal with the Engineer/Client. He has the 1st hand of all the incoming information and delegate the actions.

He should able to see before a situation is developed into an issue. And yes, he can be foregiven by missing some.

He is paid 4 or 5 times my salary, must be, he is the PM. He is responsible. My vision of a good PM...

Cheers,
Nestor
Dieter Wambach
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Dear Nestor

How a pm can be able to realize time related issues without an updated plan, instrumentational issues without a notice from lead engineer instrumentation, etc.?
For my opinion his task is more to establish and to maintain an efficient information flow. He can’t be the technical specialist for all parts of the project.

Regards
Dieter
Nestor Principe
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Dear All,

A good PM will be the 1st to know or discover if there will be an issue and relay to planner/team for the options to deal with the issue.

Cheers,
Dieter Wambach
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Samer

Sorry but the planner/scheduler cannot solve issues. He just can show feasible solutions. How to solve issues is pm’s responsibility.

Regards
Dieter
Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear R.

The right answer is: immediately.

You will need their resources and knowledge to solve the critical issues.

The best thing you can do is to deliver correct and clear information with any feasible solution based on your opinion. Because that is the first thing they will ask you.

Good luck,

Samer
Se de Leon
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Tell him everything he needs to know before any meeting. It’s up to him how he would like to report it. It’s upto him if he would report the total truth, half truth and others.

There are many considerations a PM look into that’s why sometimes he may not be reporting what you reported to him, but he will report only what is politically correct thing to say. This was my experience from one of my a programme manager I worked with before.

No wonder the project was successful because he knows how to cover what needs to be covered.
Dieter Wambach
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Catalan

Imagine, you were on the other side of the table and the manager: Which situation would be your favourite?

1. Being surprised during status meeting by those issues or
2. You had the chance to consider or already having started activities to resolve that issues and are able to report those activities during the status meeting?

--> Inform her/him as soon as possible!

Regards
Dieter
James Shimmon
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go and see him