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


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


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

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

Do Engineers Make Great Project Managers?

By Pardon Baleni

“Are you less likely to have an accident while you’re on the driver’s seat or on the passenger seat?”When posed with the question, most people will choose the former as their answer. We make ourselves believe that when we are in the driver’s seat, we can avoid accidents or we`re better protected against drunk drivers, tyre bursts and whatever else could possibly come our way. That’s a daring illusion!

Without prejudice, some Engineers think they can manage projects better if they are the ones on the driver’s seat. Trust me it is good to be an Engineer, however being a good Engineer does not necessarily make someone a good Project Manager. It takes a man/woman with in-depth knowledge of soft skills and experience to be a good Project Manager.

The skills required to be a good Project Manager are distinctly different from the focused skills cultivated in disciplines which require subject matter expertise such as science, technology, and engineering. Besides needing excellent analytical skills, the Project Manager must also have interpersonal skills necessary to communicate with nearly anyone across the breadth and depth of an organization as well as leadership characteristics necessary to build teams and lead people.

The Project Manager must have the ability to grasp different concepts and know when they are out of their parameters.When managing large projects for a big organisation, a lot of time and effort is spent on the scope, budget, cost control, schedule, politics, dealing with corporate managers and directors across the world as well as local stakeholders, unfortunately, not all Engineers are skilled in these aspects.

Many companies do not recognize this unique set of capabilities so they promote successful Engineers into positions of leadership. “Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails”- That`s the ‘Peter Principle’ at work. This theory purports that the selection of a candidate for promotion is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. The results are evident; the company loses an excellent Engineer and gains a terrible leader. The rest is history.

Because Engineers are educated by discipline, their ability to become good Project Managers is dependent, to a large extent on their ability to absorb knowledge about other disciplines because rarely do engineering projects only involve a single discipline. I am not ruling out that there are good candidates for Project Managers among Engineers. Engineers are singularly focused people with expertise in their relative field of study. If the project resides in their respective field and they have the soft skills and experience mentioned above, they can make for an excellent Project Manager.

Firstly, Engineers must realize that they will probably no longer be doing nuts-and-bolts design work, but instead will lead a team of people responsible for that work. Secondly, they will be going from sole proprietor to learning how to get things done through others. To do that, they need to create an environment that fosters self-motivation.

Currently, projects going downhill are likely attributed to inexperienced individuals assigned to manage projects. It is unfortunate that anyone can be appointed to be a Project Manager without interrogating their skills and capabilities for managing capital projects. That brings me to the core of my point; Why not have a regulatory body for Project Management Professionals?

Botswana has regulatory bodies such as Institute of Botswana Quantity Surveyors, and Engineering Registration Body (ERB) among others. Professional regulating bodies are an essential aspect of affording protection and accountability of those practising the respective disciplines and ensure quality is derived from its members. In this token, it is paramount that as Project Management professionals, we have a regulating body within Botswana.

Like any other regulatory body, The Project Management Professionals Body will impose requirements, restrictions and conditions, set standards in relation to any activity and secure compliance from all its members. It will verify the authenticity of professionals seeking admission to its register. The regulatory body will produce regulations to ensure that its registered members will have clear guidelines on issues of competence, authentic servicing and promoting the utmost standards of project management practices.

I’m not against giving opportunities to people who are willing to become Project Managers. However, recognition should be given to those holding the ‘protected’ title and demonstrates the right to use such a title.

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


Project Deviations: A Painful Project Reality, Part 2

By Victor Marathe

Why do we often get it wrong?

A project deviation is anything that deviates from the ground zero intent of the project. If it was not planned for or accounted for at inception of the project, it’s a deviation. This includes any change in cost, cash flow, schedule, execution approach, project requirements etc.

On the basis of the definition above it goes without saying that most deviations are not accounted for because they fall outside the conventional perception that project deviations are primarily only related to scope. So for instance change in specifications, design parameters and other project criteria are not always treated and handled as deviations by project practitioners. That is fatal flaw number one in deviation management.

Fatal flaw number two arises from the surface level assessment and evaluation of a deviation. That is the evaluation of deviations on face value, without an in-depth appreciation of the DNA of the deviation through establishing the reach of the deviation.

Fatal flaw number three occurs in assuming that communication of a deviation constitutes  the integration of the deviation. Also falling into this trap is the assumption that only approved deviations are communicated. Communication is no guarantee that the approval and/or rejection of a deviation will be implemented.

Fatal flaw number four occurs when viewing the cost impact from either an implementation point of view or a capital investment point of view. Every deviation has two classes of consequences and both these classes have to be assessed for a 360-degree assessment. There is the cost and schedule impact to execute and implement the deviation and the capital cost of the deviation. Both can be very costly depending on the nature of the deviation. Failure to fully assess the deviation from both perspectives is always a recipe for disaster. In both cases, the schedule impact can come with its own set of costs emanating from standing time issues, changes in procurement packages etc.

A simple technical deviation can have seemingly negligible direct costs and schedule impact. However, the execution cost can be very hefty, or it might seem to have negligible resource requirements to execute, but the capital ripple effect may be outside the financial risk appetite of the investors.

Deviation management forms the core of the project controls function. If a project executes its deviation management process well, then it is able to provide a more informed and accurate cost and schedule forecast. Without such a process, project forecast will always be more of an analytical output than the result of a physical process.

How do we get it right?

The project deviation management process should integrate all other controls functions. For a truly integrated project controls function to take effect, a 360-degree approach to project deviation management is essential and must be entrenched across all levels of the project structure.

The project environment is an exceptionally integrated environment, therefore it is erroneous to assume that a deviation in one project area or discipline will not have even a minute impact on any other area or discipline. Time and again it has proved to be a very costly oversight in many failed projects.

Good concepts and intent quickly turn into an investment and project management nightmare, and very often the disaster can be traced to one variation or another.To avoid this pitfall, the point of departure must always be from a premise that deviations are multi-layered and multi-dimensional. This premise then demands that both direct and indirect deviation consequences are accounted for by applying a multi-layered 360-degree approach.

Assessing a deviation through a 360 layered approach assumes that the first and second impact layers are primarily direct consequences and the subsequent impact layers are indirect consequences from the initial deviation. Each subsequent layer is a direct impact layer of the previous layer and hence often triggers other deviations that need to and should be assessed in their own right. That is what triggers the tsunami effect of a deviation.

The underpinning principle of a 360-degree multi-layered deviation management approach is that whenever and wherever a project deviation occurs, the project deviation should trigger an impact enquiry into each one of the management processes and technical disciplines that constitute the project profile. In turn, each process and/or discipline should trigger its own set of enquiries to each process. The response should work in the reverse order back to the change management process, which in turn informs on the cost, schedule, quality and scope consequences of the deviation.

Only by religiously applying this approach can a project accurately determine the true consequence of a project deviation and therefore make an informed decision on the way forward.

Post decision, the integration process should be started in earnest. It should involve a three step process of communication, implementation and verification. This should be applied to all decisions regarding a deviation, albeit to different levels of intensity.

The process of integrating a change is the reverse order of the assessment process. This reverse order 360-degree process is meant to ensure that all functions considered in the assessment process have considered the deviation and adjusted as necessary.

The disconnect that arises from the failure to fully implement the deviation across all project elements can be very costly. More-so that this disconnect is often realised at the tail-end of the project lifecycle.

In a 360-degree approach, a project deviation request should only be closed post a deviation integration audit. This is not an audit in the true sense of the word, but rather a verification that all project documentation has been adjusted and all related implications across all project areas as identified in the assessment stage, have been accounted for.

That’s how a well-integrated and functional 360-degree multi-layered project deviation process should work.

Get your Project Deviation Management process right, and you have won half the battle in project controls, otherwise the project controls the team.

Victor Marathe holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and

Project Deviations: A Painful Project Reality, Part 1

by Victor Marathe

Show me a project that has not undergone a change in the execution of intent, and I’ll show you a pig that can fly.

How often have you started a renovation or home improvement project which seems fairly straight forward at first, before it quickly spirals out of control? This happens because the extent of the change is often only evaluated within a very small radius of influence from the point of occurrence of the change. This domestic approach to deviation management is also widely practiced in the project arena. Project practitioners often approach deviations at face value. This is to say that project deviations are often evaluated from a visible and focal point perspective rather than delving into the peripheral and less visible impact.

Let’s consider a mini domestic case study. Say we want to add a closet in one of our rooms. Seems simple enough; break wall here, extend another wall there, shelve it and get a nice door for it. We get a quote for materials and labor, and we proceed. The nightmare starts as soon as we break the wall; there is the piping and electrical cable running through. The piping goes one way and the electricals the other. We soon realize we will have to do some plumbing and electrical re-routing. Not in our budget. And our roadside contractor does not do electrical or plumbing works. And so begins the waterfall of the quality, cost and time constraints we had set for our little project.

By the end of our little project, we have replaced broken tiles, repainted the walls, and so on. This is a rather simplistic analogy, but that is not an unfamiliar path in supposedly well planned, well-resourced industrial projects.

Project deviations or changes are the one certainty in a project. As certain as it is, it is one of the Project Controls function that is not executed well. The impact of Project Deviations can and often transcends the focal point of the deviation. They are the number one triggers of cost and schedule overruns, and yet the process is often not approached with the vigor that it should be. The attention is often misplaced at the reporting end of the cost and schedule impact. The impact on quality is often not given any attention unless something goes drastically wrong.

Deviations are not necessarily detrimental to the success of a project. It is how they are managed, controlled and integrated that dilutes the true value of the deviation. Project practitioners often fall short of a 360 degree peripheral perspective on a deviation.

The ability of a project to effectively monitor, manage and control project deviations is a key indicator of how well the project management processes are integrated. The cost and schedule management processes are only as effective as the project deviation management process.

The prevalent approach to project deviations is a one-dimensional approach. This, in essence, is applying only inherent general project management practices in dealing with deviations. This one layered approach is really a tick the box exercise and does not create the value that the process is meant to create.

There are basically two main sub-processes in managing deviations. The first stage of the process is the Deviation Assessment Process (DAP), this is then followed by the Deviation Integration Process (DIP).

The DAP is the procedure that should assess the deviation through a Registration, Definition, Evaluation, and Decision-making process. This is where the wheels usually start coming off. How well a deviation is defined and evaluated is critical in assessing the real impact of the deviation. The process should account for direct and indirect consequences.

Direct impacts are more visible and are within the immediate sphere of influence of the focal point of the deviation. The indirect consequences are more downstream and less readily identifiable without an in-depth deviation analysis.

The focus on direct impact alone is a one-dimensional perspective of a deviation and does not give an indication of the true impact of the deviation. This is the more common and documented approach in many project environments because it is the path of least resistance and satisfies most project reviews.

The DIP is the processes that facilitates the integration of a deviation into the project. This process should ensure that the deviation is approved and has been accounted for throughout the project. It is important to note that integration of a deviation is more than just communicating the deviation as is often practiced.

The next article will focus on why we often get it wrong and how to get it right!

Victor Marathe holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and