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Planning Engineer: The Beating Heart of Every Project

Benjamin Franklin - “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

A well-developed plan is a map which leads us to success. In the construction industry, project planning is the fundamental but challenging activity in execution, supervision and management of every construction project. With a proper plan, different parties can work together efficiently, and hence lead to a vested interest for everyone in the successful completion of the project.

What does a planning engineer do?

In different businesses with different scopes of works, planning engineering jobs are looked upon differently. But in general, a planning engineer is involved in projects from start to finish. With the stress of timely completion of a project resting on their shoulders, planning engineers have to investigate, create and develop the best and most efficient way to finish the project. So the projects can be delivered on time, and companies can save their money and time.

The roles of a planning engineer start right from the earliest stage of a project. Before other parties start working on the project, planners have to create plans and schedules, investigating what equipment and materials are needed, and also estimating the labour cost and manpower needed. Overall financial cost and time frame for completion are also an important section in their plan.

Once the plan is developed, planners have to oversee the delivery phase. To make sure that everything is coordinated and on schedule, they have to meet the project team or visit the project site, keeping up with the project’s progression, making sure that everyone is on the same page, and addressing any potential problems or changes.

If the project cannot be delivery on time or within the estimated cost, planners have to analyse the situation, investigate the reason for the delay, and provide suggestions and supports on how to get the schedule back in line with the plan.

How to be a good planning engineer?

Without doubt, a good planner can lead the company to success. But what makes a good planner?

Technical skills:
The most fundamental part for becoming a good planner is having the necessary technical skills. As the saying goes “a workman must first sharpen his tools if he is to do his work well”. Planning engineers always need to work with computers and use different planning software to complete their duties. So the technical knowledge on this is necessary.

Stress handler:
Stress is often faced by planning engineers. It is very important for planners to develop a good project plan and monitor the progression of the project, making sure that the project can be completed on time. If the project is delayed, the company may face a financial penalty. With a huge responsibility on their shoulders, planners have to be able to handle the pressure and stress.

Communication skills:
With the required technical skills, a planner can always develop a strategic project plan. But what makes a planner stands out is their communication skills. The role of a planner should not only be a programmer, but also be a communicator, especially when the projects become larger and more complex. Skilled planners should be able to adapt to new environment quickly and understand their colleagues, then use this knowledge to help them build and manage project plans easily. They are ready to step out and communicate with people at different levels, asking questions and being curious. The best planner is also a strong presenter who can explain the state of the projects at any point.

In conclusion, planning is now the essential and fundamental business section in many forward thinking companies. However, not many people aspire to be planners because of the potential stress and responsibility on their shoulders. Indeed, despite the well rewarded remuneration, planning engineering is actually a leading road for you to step up into senior management. If you would like to become the central component of a project, planning engineer should be a career path which can excite and motivate you.

Rita Chan
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong & Asia Region

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