Strategy In Times Of Change

 

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Tapiwa Mugore, Senior Consultant, InnoLead Consulting

I play golf. I love golf. I would rather do very few things than play golf. There are also many things I have heard people say about golf and the people that play it – many misinformed things. Apparently, it is an elitist sport for the wealthy. My experience has been quite the opposite. Of course, my meager income also flies in the face of that theory. There is also nothing elitist about (most) of the people that I interact with at the golf club. But those are opinions. We can argue back and forth all week and never find common ground.

 

The point I want to get to is that golf is one of my strategic choices. Most of us have a vision of living a long and healthy life, with more moments of happiness and relaxation than sadness and stress. We make strategic choices about how to achieve this, consciously or otherwise. Some find their solace in religion. Others find peace and relaxation in front of the television. Some find true-life purpose in time spent with friends and family. Others find their true happiness once a week for a whole three days at the bottom of a bottle. A very lucky few (fewer than we are willing to admit) find the meaning of life and complete joy and fulfillment in the daily routines of their work. For health, some run, gym, cycle and engage in all manner of sweat inducing endeavours. Others simply raise their glasses/bottles and toast to a long and happy life – it is a two in one solution for health and happiness for these folks. There is also the category of people who just say “Life is too short. Enjoy it while it lasts. We will all be worm food, healthy or not”.

In truth, most of us find a little bit of joy in many of these categories and we enjoy some more than others. I enjoy golf. I have chosen golf because it helps me to disconnect from the world for a few hours. No mobile phone (I try), no laptop, nothing to worry about except competing and winning. It rejuvenates me and brings me back closer to my best self. At the same time, I exercise and spend time with friends and meet people that I would not meet in the course of an ordinary working day. Therefore, it is a choice about how I will achieve some level of happiness and health in my life.

Of course, in future, no one knows with certainty how the world will change. My need to have a greater income may force me to move to Iceland (a competing strategic choice). If you do not have sunshine and a respectable amount of grass, you cannot play golf. I may develop a back problem or a knee problem that prevents me from swinging a golf club. The owners of the golf club may decide they want to use the land for something else. A myriad of things could change in the world. I would be forced to make a different strategic choice. I would need to find other ways of achieving my happiness and health vision. If I was in cold and dreary Iceland, I might just have to join the “here’s to a long and healthy life” group.

Clearly, my vision stays the same. Whatever strategic choice I make remains guided by my vision for health and happiness. There is a cause and effect linkage between my choice of action and achievement of my vision and hopefully, that link is strong. There is also a clear link between my strategic choice and the world around me. In the moving-to-Iceland scenario, my physical environment changes, therefore I must adapt my strategy for achieving my vision.

Apple’s reality in Cupertino has changed. Donald Trump does not want to play nice with companies that he perceives to be exporting jobs. He would like companies like Apple to bring manufacturing jobs back from China to the USA. Apple may have to pay tariffs for phones it makes in China if it wants to sell them in America. Britain’s Easyjet suffered heavy revenue losses because of Brexit in 2016. Presumably, there will be even greater changes to its ability to operate in Europe once Brexit is finalised. Locally, SPEDU made all the newspaper headlines last year as the government took a decision to liquidate BCL mine. All these changes are external to the organisation, which may or may not have any influence in the decision or how it gets implemented. Will Apple change its vision of making great products and focusing on innovation? Probably not! Will it have to change its strategy? Possibly! It just depends on the specific effects of this change and what Apple and others in the technology sector can negotiate with the government. I would think the same would apply to EasyJet. SPEDU needs to intensify its efforts to diversify the region but I do not think anything changes fundamentally in its vision.

Those are major changes. Many other changes happen in the world. They happen almost imperceptibly. Millenials are slowly taking over the workplace and we have generation gaps. People trust Google more than they trust professors, senior managers or “experts”. Buying patterns change. So while we have a golf shop 5 minutes from where I live, I have never bought anything of significant value from it. I buy from South Africa or online from the USA. I choose to not be ripped off just because I live in a small city where there is no big market for golf equipment. Local availability of products and shipping cost are not justification enough to pay higher prices for golf equipment. I have found a way to enable my strategy at the least cost. Like me, all these changes in the world probably affect your organisation.

Should they change your organisation’s vision and your reason for existence? If it is well defined, most likely not. The point is there is no change proof strategy, no magic wand that will allow you to have the right answer in changing times. Strategy is not a hindsight game. It is about keeping your eyes firmly focused on the future while reacting to all that is happening around you. There is a lot that happens from the moment you have signed off your strategy. After all, the cliché goes, “the only constant is change”. It is clear that right now, America is in transition. Europe is in transition. All this will have a major impact on Africa and it will also need to shift position. Countries will either flourish or sink further. How will your organisation react?

If you keep your eye on your strategy, review it, check its cause and effect linkages regularly and are prepared to make choices every day (difficult or otherwise), your organisation is more likely to live a long, happy and healthy life. However, be warned, there are no guarantees! That is except, change will happen!

Tapiwa Mugore holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

Executing Marketing Strategies through PM Best Practices

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Lorato Kwelagobe, Sales & Marketing Manager, InnoLead Consulting

The purpose of a marketing plan is to provide an outline of how the organization will combine its resources such as people, products, pricing, promotion, and place (distribution) to create an offering which can attract the consumers or the targeted audience. This is what they normally call a marketing mix formula, to get the right combination with a unique pull, one has to be creative and be mindful of the market dynamics. Similarly, when baking a chocolate cake, the end result of a rich and tasty sponge, solely depends on how well you mix the ingredients. A company’s marketing strategy will determine why a chocolate cake instead of vanilla for instance as well the right ingredients in the right mix.

 

The role of a Chief Marketing Officer is to figure out the company marketing approach or strategic positioning, he/she studies the economic indicators and lifestyles along with the organization’s strategic objective and then decides on the marketing mix.

The inspirational Sir Richard Branson has mastered the art of marketing through product launching tactics such as jumping from a tall building in Times Square while holding a large Virgin cellphone. In no time everyone heard about the Virgin cellphone, people came to see him and reporters all over covered his marketing stunt. His tactics are always in line with his brand. The man is the best self-promoter who is always bold, draws the right attention and gets his execution right.

With many CEO’s concerned about the failure of most marketing strategies as well as the return on investment of these strategies, the blame or discussion is normally focused on business not doing well, an unstable business environment or industry challenges. I do agree that market forces and environmental factors such as global economy, politics, and natural disasters may negatively impact our plans, however, we also fail because of our own doing by failing to manage our actions and control the controllable.

Too often, statements like, “We going to be the best innovate mobile company” will be made without the know-how to implement the strategy. Many come up with these good marketing strategies to achieve but most companies also have the challenge of implementing or execution of these great ideas. Collins and Hansen 2011 supports that there are factors that determine whether a company becomes great or successful in a chaotic and uncertain world, this lies within the hands of its people. It is not a matter of what happens to them but a matter of what they create, what they do and how well they do it. We are accountable to strategies which we create, therefore we can control the success of our marketing strategy. All strategic marketing initiatives are projects and programs, the success of which are dependent on how well we plan and execute them.

Like all projects, a marketing plan has an initiation stage where marketers build concepts or the business case. Then follows the planning which is a critical stage, this is where you define the marketing activities and make a work breakdown structure of the marketing project, that is the preparation of resources, cost plan, quality plan and communication plan to name a few. The next phase is execution; in marketing very often the root cause of failed products and marketing campaigns is not necessarily the concept or the idea but the planning and execution of the marketing project plan.

Imagine you are a launching a new product to build recognition and increase sales. Having identified all the stakeholders, the product development teams will normally collaborate with the marketing team in the project to develop a project charter, outline the tasks and appoint project managers with the right skills set from each department. Both teams also agree on the time frame, scope of the launch, targets, and external stakeholders like customers, suppliers and media companies to promote the launch.

In terms of the direction and management of the product launch, the teams will have scheduled meetings to keep the project rolling and make sure everyone involved is working on the right task to complete the project on time. The relationship between these two teams is crucial for a successful launch, which is why communication must be consistent to stay on track, identify the potential risks and mitigate against them. Communication between the teams will foster great success but if things are not done properly there will be a reputational risk and a cost risk which is very common today. Companies launch products or even brands which are not fully ready due to pressure to meet targets or from top management.

This must be avoided at all times because launching a product is a once in a lifetime experience and if you don’t do it right it will cost you badly. The market will remember your bad experience and lose confidence, ultimately resulting in a high cost on the company sales. Richard Branson says “Do it right the First Time”. This is where the aspect of monitoring and controls comes in to manage your cost, risk, stakeholder engagement and adhere to internal procurement policies. Therefore I can confidently say there is a benefit realization of the project management discipline in creating value and best marketing results. It gives you the advantage in executing marketing projects on time as well as within budget.

It is, however, important to understand the connection between the marketing strategy and best practice Project Management to improve on your “Go to market” approach. In addition, managers must shift their mind-set, take charge and motivate teams to adhere and commit to these principles.

Lorato Kwelagobe holds the position of Sales & Marketing Manager at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. She can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

The Economics of Happiness

By Oabona Kgengwenyane

For every country, it is its people that have to set its development course, tone and account for both successes and failures. Whatever happens, the challenges will always be there and the test of character and leadership comes from the intellectual courage and stamina to tackle current and imminent challenges. Even with the level of challenges we face, I never expected that we would rank amongst the bottom countries with regard to our level of happiness. The TIME magazine “The science of happiness” 2016 special edition showed Botswana (Page 92) as being among the least happy countries on the planet! I read the article 4 months ago and revisited it again lately and still could not understand why we would score that low….

Over the years we have ranked badly with HR Development indices due to the impact of HIV/AIDS and this has been much publicized globally through media houses and international agencies. And now of recent, it appears our happiness scores are receiving much attention globally and like HIV/AIDS impacting negatively on how we are perceived by outsiders. Unfortunately for humans, bad news tends to travel faster than any piece of good news….

We have a country that has enjoyed one of the highest GDP growth rates over two decades with a growing middle class and improvements with poverty eradication, yet we remain unhappy. The trouble with unhappy people, like a company dealing with a demotivated workforce, is that very little gets done, trust is compromised (fertile ground for corruption),  crime increases, low innovation and creativity levels and growing cynicism. Happier people generally get involved in healthier and progressive behavior. Importantly well-meaning national strategies can easily get sabotaged leading us to continue dreaming without ever achieving. This could present a  new  risk to the achievement of the newly approved Vision 2036.

In recent years some countries have placed the desire to develop a happier society in their national agendas. I recall David Cameron the former UK  prime minister when he wanted GDP measure to be recalibrated to include happiness levels. According to Cameron “Wellbeing can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and, above all, the strength of our relationships. Improving our society’s sense of wellbeing is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times.” I couldn’t agree more. O otlile kgomo lonaka!

Under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE has established a Ministry of Happiness with structures and officers dedicated to a happier society. The UAE is ranked as the 28th happiest country in the world, according to last year’s UN World Happiness Report and highest in their region, so it’s already doing relatively well and being proactive in managing happiness levelsEven Aristotle talked about “eudaimonia” –  Greek word translating into happiness as human flourishing and purpose to life, and Joh Keynes talked about the art of life in 1930.  Admittedly it is a very fluid subject that can be very subjective and much research is still ongoing on the science and art of happiness.

A young country like Botswana, which is still at the infant stages of carving out its national social makeup, presents an opportunity to define a future vision of a well-rounded society that is happy with high levels of satisfaction beyond the typical economic indicators. I fear that the more we leave this to chance, the more we expose our country to all the social ills associated with modern societies which would be difficult to reverse.

The following are typically considered as influencers of happiness for a country or society; social support, GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make decisions /autonomy, generosity/gratitude and perceived corruption. Studies have shown that a growing economy does not necessarily translate into a happier society. The TIMES survey showed this with Botswana scoring much lower than countries like Mozambique, the DRC, and Lesotho.

The recent development at BCL and Tati Nickle Mine will result in happiness levels that are  bound to deteriorate even further when thousands of unemployed hit the streets contributing to an already high unemployment environment. A recent study on the Better Life Index by OECD showed a direct correlation between a good life and unemployment. According to the study, a healthy job market is one of the most important factors contributing to higher life evaluation. The top 10 countries had the highest employment rates. It goes without saying that unemployment and fear of job losses have a detrimental impact on workers mental health and hence happiness levels. As a nation, reducing unemployment has to be  a TOP AGENDA item in all the  corridors of policy makers and strategists. It’s an urgent matter to keep our social fabric intact and with positive happy attitude.

I have had the opportunity to give talks to many young people at the local universities and at times I am struck by the negative energy that prevails across many of them. They seem to have lost hope and are waiting for government and others to define their destiny. My message as an entrepreneur is usually very simple; kill the sense of entitlement and dependency on others! Recognize your unique abilities, polish them up and take on the world. Even with the struggle you get to enjoy the journey because it’s on your own terms. I get them to embrace a sense of abundance instead of the typical scarcity mentality that troubles most of our people.

As we look back on the past 50 years of independence and the current rich air of national introspection, it could be the right time to seriously address our issues around happiness and psychological well-being. It can become our undoing if unmanaged. Who wouldn’t want a wealthier, fairer, healthier, more creative and purpose driven society? We have one of the richest cultures on the planet, the most well-kept / unspoiled natural environments, relatively sound economic grounding, warm climate with long days of open sunny skies, sparsely populated and uncrowded living large spaces. We could become a global attraction for happy living, but this will take deliberate strategies to achieve and reverse the negative trend. A great investment for our future generations!

Oabona Kgengwenyane is the Managing Director of InnoLead Consulting and X-Pert Group offering Project Management, Management Consultancy, and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on 3909102 and okgengwenyane@innolead.co.bw.

Impact of Culture on PM

By Mark Muzinda

Due to globalization and the nature of projects being temporary organizations, projects are being implemented in diverse organizations, some transcending borders, and continents.  Multi-country project teams and virtual project teams are becoming the norm rather than the exception.  This requires an extension of the breadth of skills-set required of Project Managers to enhance the success of their projects. Failure to manage this diversity arising from this multiculturalism may spell failure to the project.

Culture can be defined as a shared set of attributes of any group by which this group organizes its living together, its environment, and its solutions to society (Olatunji, 2002). National culture can be defined as a particular pattern of thinking and acting, espoused by people in a society modeled around collective values, beliefs , symbols  and practices and inherently differently from the systems of other groups  and societies  (Hofstede,2001). Taking the definition down to the organization/corporate, organization culture is the unique beliefs , attitudes, and values that members of that organization share and set them apart from other organizations.

There is cultural diversity within various organizations. Projects being implemented in a private blue chip will face a totally different culture than one being implemented in government department with its associated bureaucracy and hierarchical structure. A project manager managing a project in North Africa will be faced with a different culture than one in Asia or East Africa.  Project managers need to be cognizant of the impact of culture on the success of their projects. Project managers should have a deliberate plan to manage this diversity on their project teams.

In managing culture diversity to enhance project success the project manager needs to do following;

  1. Identify and map the diversity on the project. The project managers need to identify the various members of the team from different cultures. These could be members of different nationalities, minority tribes, women (relevant in highly traditional settings), religions etc. Being cognizant of the diversity on the project team is a start in managing it.
  2. For a project manager that is set to manage a project in a different organization or country, it is important that they take the necessary time to research the culture in that organization or country. What are the power dynamics in the organization? Is it a hierarchical organization or a flat one?  How are decisions made? Are decisions made through consensus or is it a top down approach? The Project Manager can leverage this information for the successful management of their project.
  3. The Project Manager should determine the type of communication preferred for each individual project. Some organizations prefer lengthy documents, others prefer flash reports, face to face, others a combination with face to face updates etc. The project manager should also determine what values or criteria are most important; in a precious metal mining company, the ability to execute works on a plant in the shortest time may be more valuable than say costs. Uptime of their equipment is much more important to them.
  4. Conflict is an inevitable occurrence within a project setting. Issues that could be easily resolved, may be worsened by cultural misunderstandings. This is why it is imperative that project managers be aware of the differences in culture within a project setting in order to mitigate against those. This will enable him to manage the conflict better and enhance the relationships required for continued productivity on the project.
  5. For a diverse project team that is geographically separated with some in different time zones, the project manager should as much as is possible arrange for a face to face meeting preferably at kick-off of the project. It is important that project team puts faces to names, team members get to meet discuss their preferences, share stories, this breaks down barriers and eases the cultural tension.  For project teams with diversity but within the same geographical setting, the project manager can use interactivity, and team building sessions to tear down the cultural barriers. The goal is for the project team members to be more culturally aware of their colleagues and hence have more acceptance and tolerance.

As demonstrated above its imperative that project managers have the skillset to manage cultural diversity on the project either occasioned by members from different cultures, execution of projects in different organizations, or geographical locations to enhance the success of these projects.

Mark Muzinda holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

 

PMI Conference: Africa Chapter

by Babatshi Gasha

The prestigious Project Management Institute (PMI®) Africa Chapter Conference in Ghana was the crust of everything PM related. It brought together hundreds of project, program and portfolio managers from around the world with the aim of  sharing knowledge on the emerging trends concerning Project Management in Africa and globally. The mood was electric as project management practitioners from all over the world were eager to build rapport and relationships, learn and discover new opportunities in the project management space.

The three-day conference included presentations, plenary and networking sessions. The conference presentations were thought-provoking, addressing challenges and opportunities available in Africa. Keynote speakers challenged the Africa status quo, industry experts delivered actionable solutions and peer-driven content offering real-world insight into today’s evolving project and business challenges.

One of the highlights of the conference was the PMI® Board Chairman’s, Mr. Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez keynote address that focused on ‘Closing the Strategy Execution Gap through Project Management’.  He stated that and I am in agreement, companies develop ‘very’ good strategies but are unable to execute the strategies well. The question then is how can organizations ensure that their strategic initiatives are executed properly? In responding to this, I picked one key insight that I want to share.

  • There are two dimensions that organizations (including the public sector) can focus on: “Running the Business” or “Changing the Business

Let me briefly elaborate on these two dimensions;

  • Running the Business” entails ensuring that the business operates smoothly and is kept alive at all times. Under this option, objectives are commercial and the focus is more on short-term returns. This option has very limited growth options. It is worth noting that this was very common in the past as company executives tended to focus more on keeping the business alive by getting the needed returns for it to survive.
  • The other dimension ‘Changing the business’ emphasizes looking at the bigger picture and developing strategic objectives that are geared towards changing the organization and managing that change. This option compels organizations to look at the medium to long term returns.

Global trends currently show a shift from giving more attention from ‘Running the business’ to ‘Changing the business’. Current trends show that executives focus thirty percent (30%) of their efforts towards running the business and seventy percent (70%) on changing the business. This shift is as a result of managers seeing the value of looking into the future.

The world is rapidly changing and companies are forced to adapt to these changes and plan for the future.  As a way of responding to these changes and planning ahead, companies have embarked on developing strategies to assist them to survive in the medium to long term. Unfortunately, the execution of these strategies generally falls flat.

PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2014 report, highlighted that executives know what they should be doing – 88 percent say that strategy implementation is important to their organizations – sixty-one percent acknowledge that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.

The report further highlights that the demise comes from the lack of an understanding among organization executives that all strategic change happens through projects and programs. While some projects improve an organization’s ability to “run the business” and don’t rise to the level of a “strategic initiative,” all of an organization’s strategic initiatives are projects or programs, which inevitably “change the business.”

So in essence project or program management is an important component of the strategy execution process. Research has shown that Organizations with mature project portfolio management practices complete 35 percent more of their programs successfully. This then challenges executives and organizations’ teams to the need to acquire the right project management knowledge to successfully deliver their project portfolios. The underlying circumstance in modern days, no matter how controversial this may seem, is that Project Management has become a core skill not only for project managers but entire organizations’ staff.

The community of project management practitioners is in unconditional agreement that effective Project and Program Management plays a critical role in bridging the gap between formulation and effective execution of strategy. This has actually led to more recent arguments and beliefs that Project Management Offices (PMOs) play a pivotal role in ensuring effective execution of strategy. The role of Project Management Offices (PMOs) has changed significantly nowadays from just focusing on projects to managing strategy. There is a need for companies to look beyond the traditional PMOs roles and emphasize the following as their key responsibilities;

  • Increased strategic dialogue on key business matters, horizontally and vertically within organizations
  • Increased accountability – the role of the sponsor must be clearly defined, and they must be held accountable for the success or failure of some strategic initiatives under their responsibility.
  • Breaking silos and creating a one team mindset. If there is one issue that has not disappeared over the years and haunting most organizations, it’s Departmental silos. It is important for senior managers to prepare and equip their teams with the proper mindset to break down this destructive organizational barrier.
  • Aligning senior executive teams. Relentless change has been hitting organizations in the recent years. As organizations undertake transformational changes that match the current trends, there is a critical need to ensure that executives are aligned to the vision, purpose, and goals of the proposed change.

Let me conclude by asking this short question…In order of their priority, what are the most important functions in most organizations? The results will not be surprising! Sales and Marketing, Accounting, Strategy Execution, IT etc. will first come to most respondents’ minds…and somewhere at the end, there will be Risk and Project Management…But why?

If organizations want to see their strategies and roadmaps properly implemented then project, program and portfolio management are key. That is the bottom-line from a Project Management Practitioners’ perspective as well as the most important learning I got from the PMI Africa Chapter Conference, 2016.

Babatshi Gasha holds the position of Project Management Trainer at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

PUBLIC SECTOR PROJECTS – THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES

By Pardon Baleni

Public sector projects are high on governments` agenda as they create a positive impact on societies by improving service delivery, creating jobs and skills development. In addition, they create diversification in the economy by making the country more attractive to investors if successful. If they fail the undesirable effect may prompt socio-political discontent.

Public sector projects in Africa are marred by poor performance with a history of hitches, flawed procurement, delays and cost overruns. Private institutions seem to be better as far as project management is concerned as their objective is to maximise profit in an effort to survive in the fast-changing world. However, the question is, are public sector projects more difficult than private sector projects?

Public sector projects present a unique set of challenges as they are established on the governments’ objectives to satisfy the needs and demands of the public rather than to achieve financial returns. These objectives can be difficult to measure, as in public sector a project may be regarded as a “public” success even if it resulted in time and budget overruns. Yet from a project management perspective, a project is considered successful if it meets defined needs to the required standards within the time and cost budget as well as meeting stakeholder`s expectations.

The inability to adjust from the deep-rooted traditional non-profit approach within public institutions has caused a constant struggle to creatively and successfully manage public sector projects. Resistance to change, incorrect forecasts and vague assumptions have all contributed to the failure of public sector projects. There is potential for change.

The route to success is reliant on a number of critical aspects; first is the need to devise a comprehensive project master plan by means of a thoughtful project selection and prioritisation model, through which only the right projects that are aligned to the national strategy are given a green-light. As they go through the model, these projects will naturally fall into groups called portfolios. The model also justifies the importance of prioritisation as it allows only projects that will provide maximum value and benefits to the nation to be implemented and ensures that “white elephant” projects do not see the light of day.

In public sector structure, a portfolio can be a Ministry, Department, Business Unit etc. According to (PMI) The standard for Portfolio Management, Third Edition a portfolio is a collection of projects, programs, sub-portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives. The projects or programs of a portfolio may not necessarily be directly related, and may include a mix of water, power and mineral projects.  From this mix, the department may choose to manage related projects as one program.

The second critical aspect is to entrench project management culture deeper into the public sector by setting up Portfolio or Project Management Offices (PMO).The first motive for creating PMOs is to deliver strategic projects through standardised, consistent and efficient project management processes. PMOs are designed to create flexible project-based structures required to adapt to dynamic project environments with the right methodologies, resources, and expertise.

The Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) – Fifth Edition, defines a PMO as a management structure that standardizes the project – related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques. PMOs also assume a policing or regulatory role in ensuring projects and programmes comply with agreed methodologies and frameworks. In addition, a PMO may be granted the authority to terminate projects or take action as required to remain aligned with strategic objectives.

The portfolio roadmap is the third critical aspect. A portfolio roadmap will provide a high-level plan in a chronological view that will be used for identifying both internal and external dependencies. The roadmap will also seamlessly arrange projects in a pipeline, and a pipeline determines how and when these projects can be executed with available resources in a specified time.

Poor planning and performance management of costs and resources are some of the key drivers of failure. Drawing on more than ten years of experience in construction, there is a very strong relationship between the quality of planning carried out at the early stages of a project and the quality of outcome at the end of it. The opposite is true, successful planning hinges on experienced and competent teams that are able to think strategically, tactically and constructively to come up with all kinds of creative solutions.

Lastly, close monitoring of construction activities is very crucial, as the contractor’s role is growing and playing a critical part within public sector projects delivery. Before contractors are appointed, it is the duty of the client’s (PMO) team to provide adequate and accurate information to the bidders, to avoid ambiguity which may result in unexpected claims. In addition, careful consideration should be given when selecting bidders to ensure projects are implemented by competent contractors with the right capacity.

The traditional “lowest bidder wins the contract” approach is another fallacy, as it forces the contractors to price work at unrealistically low levels, making it impossible for the contractor to maintain the required quality standards and make profits. It’s a known fact that this approach does not deliver cost savings but in fact is more likely to result in unnecessary claims, cost and time overruns. The seeds of many projects failures are sown at this stage.

In the same manner, the client should empower and build local capacity by training citizen contractors on how to deal with compliance to contractual issues and project management best practices. Most citizen contractors are struggling with contractual related issues, cash flow management and developing realistic schedules. The cost of training eligible citizen contractors is far less than the costs incurred on delayed projects due to lack of project management knowledge. It is called the “spending to save” strategy – spending less now to save more in the future.

In conclusion, during the execution of projects, engineers should visit the site frequently for inspections to ensure there is compliance with the drawings, specifications and construction methods. The project managers likewise should be concerned with how progress is measured on site, as measuring progress is relentlessly a challenge: for example if the project is 79% complete, is it the physical measured works, duration elapsed, weighted steps, value of work done, or it’s just a percentage that the contractor conveys to the project manager? Food for thought for public sector project managers!

The intention of this article was to explore how public sector projects can be successfully implemented. It is also worth stating that public sectors are gradually acknowledging the importance of project management and the maturity level is fairly increasing.

Pardon Baleni holds the position of Project Planner at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

Project Controls: Earned Value 101

by Okitanye Gaogane

warning-signsIf you own one of those sophisticated cars with fancy dashboards, then you have project management analytics right in front of you.

We have all experienced that orange tank. Are you one of those drivers that take heed of the sign and get to the nearest petrol station to refuel, or do you let the car come to a stop first, call a cab, buy a container and go and buy extra fuel? The car operates off of resources and the dashboard acts in an advisory capacity. Taking heed of the warning indicators on the dashboard is metaphorically what Project Controls is.

Now here is a classic office case that explains project performance, project analytics and simplifies earned value management. Our office has an 80L capacity petrol tank car and when you drive at normal speed doing 12km/L the fuel will cover 960km. Gaborone-Kasane is 924km, so if we send a consultant on a Kasane mission on a full tank we have a nice contingency of an extra 36km.

I have a colleague, who shall remain anonymous in this article lest the law enforcement officers start following him. If I give him this car, by the time he is halfway to the destination, the fancy dashboard will be reading Distance To Empty DTE: 100KM. If he ignores this he will not even make it to Nata.

How does this relate to project management? This consultant I am referring to, the only thing that matters to him is time. He breaks traffic (project management) rules and is very wasteful in terms of resources (petrol) because to him the most important thing is Time; not necessarily a bad priority. We have seen this in a number of projects, haven’t we? His argument is that there is quality in the ride, and I say he is a risky and wasteful fellow in many ways.

Back to earned value. What is earned value?

Englert and Associates, Inc. define it as, a method for measuring project performance. It compares the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished to determine if cost and schedule performance is as planned.

In our scenario, the plan was to have used 462km worth of fuel (P293) this is referred to as earned value. The dashboard says we have used 860km worth of fuel (P545), this is called actual performance. Our cost performance index says that for every 53 km traveled we are spending 100 km worth of fuel. This does not take a genius to figure out that to arrive in Kasane at the same speed we need and estimate to completion of twice the original budget. The beauty of analytics is that you now have to make informed decisions on whether you will do a budget change request and continue at the same driving behavior or sacrifice speed for resource conservation.

Cutting the story short, if you are leading the project and you have no way of reporting current performance and extrapolating future performance, then you are as good as driving a car without a dashboard. You will get a lovely surprise when the car stops in the middle of nowhere. At a national level, I can only hope that future projects have at a bare minimum cost controllers, schedule controllers, planners, and risk managers to manage the MEGA Pula project analytics. This is business, we need to EARN VALUE for every taxpayer-PULA spent.

Okitanye Gaogane holds the position of Academy Manager at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw.