The Planner in Practice

The Planner in Practice

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This master thesis is a part of an ongoing research project at The Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK) within integrated planning in the oil and gas industry. The Planner in practice is the theme of the thesis and the aim is to understand the Planner better. The research context is Aker Solutions’ maintenance and modification contract with Statoil to operate four of Statoil’s installations; Åsgard, Visund, Gullfaks and Snorre. To find out more about the Planner, I found it natural to have a qualitative approach and a case study as research design. The empirical material in this thesis relies on my interpretation of interviews with twenty-four project participants within the M&M contract.
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The main research question is;

what characterizes a good Planner in Aker Solutions’ M&M contract? To operate this question I lean on two sub-research question. The first sub-research question aims to find what roles the Planner holds. The second sub-research question addresses skills that the Planner needs. I approach the research questions by introducing theoretical contributions in leadership and project management with a focus on roles and skills. There is little research on the Planner as a separate function from Project Manager. Hence, I rely on the empirical material from the case study to a great extent. The project participants’ expectations towards a good Planner became important in the analysis of the Planner. In addition, the participants’ impressions with deviations from these expectations illustrate the Planner in practice.

Empirical findings illustrate a clear connection between roles that the Planner holds and skills the Planner needs. The relation between Planner and Task Lead was an important success factor in the project. I identified a gap between the formal role description and the informal expectations we mapped. This indicates that the Planner has a great room of actions. Several expectations were not made explicit, and it was challenging for the Planner to know what roles and skills to have. Experienced Planners with context-relevant knowledge seemed to handle this gap better than new Planners. There were several diffuse demands concerning the work of the Planner. This leads to Planners performing their work in many different ways. There is not one static answer to what characterizes a good Planner. I identified several similarities in the expectations, and approach a conclusion based on these empirical findings. A good Planner should hold the roles of facilitator, proactive thinker, team player and broker. A good Planner needs a mix of technical and interpersonal skills. In addition, conceptual skills such as the ability to identify challenges seems to be relevant in order to be a good Planner.

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