In summary of all data gathered and analysed, a few areas of improvement were identified. Jedd (2005:64) (citing Miller 2005) is of the opinion that: “The first step is to identify what needs improvement and the value that will be received through improvement”. Using the critical incident technique, as well as positivistic auditing, it is possible to identify such areas that require improvement.
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Improvement areas are listed as:
In continuation, Jedd (2005:64) (citing Miller, 2005) says that: “Maturity assessment is an inexact science, but one where gains translate to the bottom line.” Linking into the thought of inexact science is human capital, international challenges in the form of culture, as well as individualism. “We’re a knowledge-intensive organisation, our human capital is our greatest asset. The processes and technology are the means that enable skilled, experienced people to drive a global business.” (Montillet, 2005) cited by (Jedd, 2005:65). In an international setting, such as the one described in this research Walker, D., Walker, T. and Schmitz (2003:28) state that: “Today’s globalising organisations have found that the ability to collaborate, establish relationships, and produce results across social, cultural, and geographic distances is central to success in the new marketplace.”
The discussion that follows will address the improvement areas as listed in this summary section.
Addressing virtual teams would contribute towards improving alignment, clarity and expectations, as well as communication. Bouley (2006:24) (citing Pennypacker, 2006) elaborates on this point in saying that: “A number of research studies have shown that one of the key success factors – maybe the number one success factor – in being able to lead project teams is the ability to build trust among team members and among stakeholders. That’s important in every team and project, but it gets more difficult with more complex teams, particularly virtual teams where there isn’t necessarily face-to-face interaction. You have to work harder at building trust.” It seems fitting to make use of some of the more salient aspects as part of an emergent approach to strategic change. “…strategic change activities may include identifying supporters, attempting to change opposition views and building the maximum consensus for the new proposals” (Lynch, 2003:788).
It seems apt to identify a change model in support of the research question, which reads:
‘What is required to standardise project management processes within disjointed Project Offices in sub-Saharan Africa to optimise project efficiency?’
After careful consideration, it appears that Pettigrew and Whipp (1991 − cited in Lynch:779) have a model that can be utilised in order to achieve strategic change with an emergent approach. The Five Factors theory is briefly described in order to demonstrate its application related to the areas of improvement identified in this chapter. The model is described verbatim as presented by Lynch (2003:777-779):
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Note that five factors relate to the whole strategy development process, not just to the implementation one. Overall, the organisation needs to be able to develop a balanced approach to change that is both focused and efficient internally, while adapting successfully to external changes. To assist this process, the researchers included two additional components for each factor:
In Figure 4.11 characteristics are listed that depict five factors as described. A multitude of these factors appear in recommendations made within the ambit of this research. It is clear that an emergent approach is best suited in order to work together to eradicate non-standardisation of project management processes. The cost to the organisation to implement this specific model is not very high, as it is created and implemented over an extended period of time.
Figure 4.11: Characteristics of five central factors (Source: Pettigrew, A. and Whipp, R., Managing Change for Competitive Success, 1991).
The areas of improvement identified can be grouped into four main focus areas:
Clarifying the content and purpose of processes, expectations related to each, as well as clear communication on any changes to existing processes or the creation of new ones, can be achieved in a couple of simple steps. Online collaboration pages are very flexible and easy to use tools in order to improve communication to virtual teams. By creating a section dedicated to processes only, the Project Office participant can easily find information pertaining to all processes related to the Project Office. Adding a caption or ‘call out’ which is highlighted in red next to any changes and/or updates will aid in quick identification of changes when someone scans over the page. Monthly electronic news letters can also be used in order to highlight any change and/or update to processes pertaining to the Project Office. Monthly knowledge sharing sessions in the form of a one hour conference call is a very effective manner, in which to supply summaries on updates. Steps taken in accordance with the ‘Five Factor’ model can also be stated in this manner in order to illustrate progress, as well as identify the next planned activities to be implemented. These are some steps that can be taken in order to improve communication.
When new models are implemented in the organisation such as PEMA or new employees join the Project Office, for whom all processes will be a new concept, it appears that more emphasis is needed on training of such processes. For new employees, the attendance of the Project Office on-boarding sessions should be seen as mandatory prior to them being assigned to a project. On-boarding sessions span over 2 days and the new employee is guided through a series of hands on sessions that pertain to all processes related to the Project Office, as well as all tools to be used. ‘Road show’ type training sessions are needed when a new model is introduced to the organisation as a whole. It is important for individuals to understand how the new process links into their daily tasks. If the new model has an overlap of any other models implemented, it should be highlighted and explained in detail. In the areas of improvement it appears that the majority of items related to process pertain to activities that need to occur at TG2. This is the point in time when the pre-sales team hands over the project scope, budget and time plan to the Project Manager for execution. These activities form such a crucial part of project success that a red flag is raised at this point in time. As described in factor 3 of the ‘Five Factor’ model, a more prescriptive approach might be required in order to remedy this area of improvement.
Certification of a Project Manager can only be done when that individual is ready. ‘Being ready’ means that the individual has passed a series of preparatory questions and pre-certification criteria. Included in this criterion is a section that pertains to process adherence. It is obvious why it is not possible to send more Project Managers for certification, based on the process adherence audit results reflected within the ambit of this research.
The final area of improvement pertains to financials. Project Managers need to be educated in order to stress the importance, as well as the severe impacts on the organisation if it is found to be non-compliant in terms of SOX key controls. It is recommended that the weight assigned to all financial measurements should be higher.
In order to achieve alignment, some strong key stakeholders who already perform well in terms of compliance can be requested to rally for the ‘cause’. Perhaps some one-on-one sessions are needed with individuals who consistently perform poorly. Internal audits work well and seem to be a very effective tool that reflects reality.
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In the introduction to this chapter it is mentioned that ‘best practice’ will be identified. Though some of the projects reflect a perfect score, the sampling is too small to be considered as the best practice. This chapter reflects the results and behaviours of Project Managers in different Project Offices. A comparison is made between the Nigerian and South African Project Office practices with results gleaned from primary and secondary data. This chapter reflects the ‘as-is’ position, whereas chapter 2 reflects the ‘to-be’ position.
In the next and final chapter of this research, a summary is made of the research, some conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made, which can be implemented in the organisation in order to eradicate non-standardisation of project management processes impacting successful project execution.
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