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What it takes to convince a work program is sufficient to client's top brass?

posted Mar 17, 2022, 10:24 PM by jeffery jim

I spent a few hours justifying and verifying points and remarks made by a professional planning unit in a mega project yesterday. Apart from that, I did vindicates on tasks which I believe as my contractual advantages. To make matters really complicated, I am facing the CEO of the mega project alone. Scared? Nope. I will explain why?

1. First of all, all planners must understand the essence of planning such as productivity and sequential arrangement which make resources and tasks look logical and convincing. Formidable numbers on quantities of each work broken down into sections as well as quantity which are lump together to form a number. This is the reason why I always mention about 80% on paper and 20% on software. It starts with prediction and accumulation of information and then inferential thoughts were built during the summation processes. This gives a total understanding and underlying risks that a contractor will face during the construction. Apart from that, the technical knowledge is key in justifying the whole chain of events especially those on critical path. Never try to plan any projects which you are not technically sound or never undertook previously. That is suicidal.

2. Before a presentation, always highlight one thing. Schedule Basis Memorandum! This is essential to convince client that you are the right person to plan and they too can relate the mentioned projects with the one you are planning. The nexus to this introduction is to elevate your status as a successful person in certain projects. Once you established control of the board room and got their attention, you got the whole room for yourself to explain things.

3. Ditch the power point. You are wasting too much time on power point presentation as most of the questions thrown to you during this session would need you to sketch on white board. Everything should be at the back of your head and backed with spreadsheet calculations. Not one, two or three but more than ten spreadsheets in regards to derivation. Spend that 70% of your time generating a work program in spreadsheet. 10% on extraction from the bills and drawings. I encountered many even recently, commenting about work programs without referring to drawings which render themselves as obstinate and irresponsible in executing their work.

4. Answer concisely to questions that were thrown to you. I know many tried to bullshit their way out but good planers with innate management skills will not do so as numbers will back them up. At times, pretext were made based on inferential during the summation process and that is open for discussion. Context and pretext can be ambiguous, hence these depends very much on communicating the ideas and twisting their arm to accept your approach and vindicate the reason why it is as it is.

5. Examples based on schedule basis memorandum is essential in convincing. Explain the sequence nicely and why it is appropriate to link and tie down certain activities in a way. Working in green field and public projects have different methods in approaching and resolving an execution. It is subjective and there is no right and no wrong in planning. It needs to be logical, proven and cost/time saving. Hindrances need to be addressed and tackled. Nevertheless, what difference an exceptionally good planner and average one is the critical thinking capacity. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with it. Planning may look to be acceptable but the devil is in the details. That is how people start to nip points before retiring you from further explanation.

6. Add-on values is essential. A planner should able to provide certain information apart from planning. E.g., Technical knowledge and et cetera. This will paint a better perspective about your capabilities and render your effort in putting up with the whole plan and covered the project from every point. This also provide consolation knowing that you have considered indemnification of the client from potential risks during the project.

7. ASS-Curve. I don't like S-curve. The nonsense behind the shape is not only illogical but stupid. The shape should be derived based on planning and not the other way round. What is they with shapes? If we are talking about power in statistics, it is essential. It shows regression in different power. In construction, a linear curve makes more sense. Why? The logic behind it is to ensure the credit facility that the contractor have applied is not messed up and consistent. This also ease the life of superintending officer and client in budgeting their claim. If there is a kink in sudden surge for a month or two, it is acceptable. Contractor can cope up with 3 months credit facility from suppliers. A planner should have experience with banking system when it comes to credit facilities. Changes in ratios or so on will not be things a banker really want to encounter. Additional fund is not readily available at stages of the construction, so plan your cashflow well. We also know those who come up with cash flow based on spreadsheet and prorate everything without planning. That is pure trash.

8. Having to share some of these essential tactical planning, junior planners should continue their career as engineers or surveyors until a stage where they can envisage a project execution like a project manager. Nothing wrong with becoming a planner at a young age but similar to diamonds, it is rough and need a lot of polishing before shifting from technical planning to tactical planning. Enjoy your career and my only advice is to learn technical, contractual and financial items in the process. This means that a junior engineer have to be close to a mentor, consulting engineers, top brass of the contractor and other agents in construction industries.
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