The Emergence of the Project Planner Role

A project planner supports the project manager by taking over critical, detail-oriented, time-intensive tasks, such as the ones discussed above. As a result, the project manager is free to focus on more strategic project goals and objectives. Earlier in this chapter, we discussed the core tasks of the leader. It's worthwhile noting that the core tasks of the manager have been identified as:

►Planning the work

►Organizing the work

►Implementing the plan

►Controlling results.

These tasks align with the role of planner. Together, the project manager and planner/controller resolve the leader/manager dilemma by supplying both aspects of these roles in collaboration.

What Makes a Good Project Planner?

In order to efficiently handle the responsibilities outlined above, the successful project controller/planner must possess technical expertise in project management software and related spreadsheet and/or database (financial, resource) tools, as well as business process expertise in cost budgeting and estimating, risk analysis, critical path diagramming and analysis, resource forecasting, and change control. In contrast to the project manager candidate, the ideal project planner has the following personal and professional characteristics:

►Logical thinker and problem solver ►Organized and detail-focused ►Numbers-oriented

►Able to interpret complicated and interconnected data

►Communication skills, especially as they apply to project information ►PM software expertise

►Application software expertise (accounting, procurement, etc.).

Just as with project managers of varying experience and skill, you'll find a hierarchy in the project planning and controls arena. A serious project controls person will have a breadth of experience that encompasses many of what we have termed "specialty areas," like change (configuration) control, risk management (from the perspective of quantifying risks with the tools), issues management, action item tracking, multi-project reporting, executive reporting, scheduling integration, organizational resource management, multi-project resource analysis, forecasting, leveling, multi-project what-if analysis, management of the organizational (enterprise) resource library, schedule estimating, cost estimating, etc. And, just as with project managers, the organization will benefit from establishing a career path from the specialist team member level to a sophisticated divisional project controls position.

One insurance executive characterized the roles relationships in this way:

"We like to think of the project manager as the CEO of the project, and the project planner as the CFO. Like the CEO and CFO, both the project manager and project planner carry out crucial duties, and both need to possess significant, albeit different, skill sets and experiences in order to bring the projects in on time, within budget, and at agreed quality levels."18

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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