Software Microsoft Projects and Primavera with a Project Planner at his desk

What “makes” a Project Planner – Part 2

by Charisa Langeveld

In Part One of this series we’ve identified the 3 pre-requisites employers ask for when appointing Project Planners. We’ve also identified that these pre-requisites not only lets in the unskilled, but often also keeps out the skilled. Now, the question is:

 Is Project Planning training necessary?

In the past, skill was passed from seniors to juniors through mentorship. This was extremely effective as juniors were coached from ground-level, doing things by hand, to understand the fundamental concepts and the principles of Project Planning. This gave them the basis from which to handle almost anything that came their way, while having their mentor to guide them along the way. So why don’t we continue with mentorship instead of training? The answer is that with the explosion of the need for Project Planners there were insufficient numbers of skill in the marketplace that created a void that had to be filled faster than mentorship could do. Many Senior Project Planners of today are lacking the fundamentals and principles mentioned above, as they were never coached in this way. Since they did not receive coaching, they also do not have the experience or points of reference for applying coaching themselves.

 Before we say that training is or is not the answer, let’s look at why mentorship stopped being applied in the first place. As mentioned in Part One, Project Planning became mandatory in construction contracts, which resulted in two things:

1. Companies who used to have Project Planners no longer had the time to invest in the training and mentorship of new recruits, ultimately losing their mentorship programmes altogether.
2. Companies who didn’t know much about Project Planning suddenly needed to appoint them, not knowing or understanding the need for Project Planning mentorship and training, nor how to measure Project Planning skill.

 Training Project Planners in the fundamentals and principles of Project Planning will not give you a seasoned and experienced Project Planner, but it will lay the foundation on which experience can be built and skill can be achieved.

In the case of #1 above, companies who no longer have the time to invest in new recruits, can now appoint Project Planners who already possess a good understanding of Project Planning principles, and these companies can immediately make use of said Project Planners.

 In the case of #2, companies who do not know how to measure this skill, can be certain that they are at least appointing Project Planners with a good foundation and will be better off than appointing just anyone who calls themselves Project Planners.

 Most importantly, training will ensure that there is a standard of measurement. From a Project Planner’s point of view, how would you know you are doing it right, if you were not taught the principles of Project Planning? From an employer’s point of view, how would you know you are appointing a skilled Project Planner if they did not receive the proper principles of Project Planning?

 Where the 3 pre-requisites were designed to (unsuccessfully) sift between the skilled and unskilled, training can ultimately lay the foundation for all to be skilled. It can enhance the Project Planning fraternity, not including some and excluding others, but by equipping all to be the best Project Planners they can be.

 In part 3 we’ll look at how to choose a good quality Project Planning course.

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