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Table of Contents

NON-STANDARDISATION OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROCESSES: A CASE STUDY OF ERICSSON SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - Part 15

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CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 SUMMARY

In this chapter a summary of the research is presented, enabling the reader to have a clear and concise understanding of topics covered. This is followed by some conclusions drawn from the data analysis results as depicted in chapter 4. Recommendations are offered in aid of aligning and eradicating non-standardisation of project management processes within disjoined Project Offices in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Orientation to the research problem statement was provided, as well as background of the research problem. The research problem statement, which pertains to this dissertation, reads as follows:

‘Non-standardisation of Project Management processes influencing successful project execution.’

In the literature review it was discussed that Ericsson is one of the leading telecommunications companies of the world, supplying turnkey business solutions to multiple telecommunications operators. The livelihood of the organisation is formed by projects and project management practices, which is why all its employees strive towards achieving operational excellence in everything they do. All project activities are aligned by Project Offices with the organisation’s core values, namely professionalism, respect and perseverance. In our case study we closely considered four Projects Offices established within the market unit called Sub-Saharan Africa that vary in operational maturity, size and age. The first of them was established in South Africa in 2002 and the second one in Nigeria in 2003. Project Offices in Kenya and Senegal were set up in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The Nigerian and South African offices developed their own ways of work processes and procedures independently from one another.

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Having disjointed processes and procedures could cause disparity among employees and customers represented in multiple countries; they could perceive the project organisation as disorganised and unprofessional. Standardising business processes and procedures would enable Ericsson to respond to customer needs faster with increased focus on delivering superior-quality business solutions, instead of squandering resources on having to learn new processes, procedures and ways of work every time they were deployed to a different country.

The primal research question pertaining to this investigation is as follows:

‘What is required to standardise project management processes within disjointed Project Offices in sub-Saharan Africa to optimise project efficiency?’


The Project Offices make use of a wide variety of project management models, processes and procedures. The majority of them were developed in-house, specific to the organisation in support of a particular project and business solutions, all of which are based on industry standards. These ways of work were used as an adherence benchmark during internal audits and were summarised as follows. The PROPS-C framework consists of five elements, namely the PROPS-C Life Cycle model, Organisational model, Business perspective, the Human perspective and the Project Management Knowledge areas. Project Environmental Maturity Assessment (PEMA) is a method, in which the application of project management processes is assessed in the organisation. PEMA consists of the following: perspectives, business, human, organisational and project management processes. Customer Project Management (CPM) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have a unified methodology to evaluate and measure key focus areas that the organisation identified as having the biggest impact on the bottom line. The Systems Integration Maturity program is based on the PROPS-C life cycle model utilised for network rollout projects. Due to the complex nature of systems integration projects, the SI Maturity program focuses on project margin, change requests, toolbox compliance, risk management, reporting, stakeholder expectations, new employees and certification. Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance is based on risk exposure to the organisation.

The central functions team was established in 2006 to serve as change agents, which seemed to be the only constant in all four Project Offices. The purpose of this team was to ensure that improvement and efficiency programs were developed, adapted, implemented and audited on an ongoing basis. While the structure and goals of this team were aligned and unified, the legacy that they dealt with formed the crux of this dissertation.

The key objectives of this research are:

  • To achieve operational excellence within four Project Offices in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • To ensure standardisation of Project Management processes.

In order to identify where non-standardisation occurred, as well as its severity, descriptive case study research was applied, while utilising methodological triangulation. This investigation was conducted in the social world; it is theoretical and empirical in nature and uses both phenomenological (qualitative) and positivistic (quantitative) research paradigms. A sample size was set to be 75% of the population, which consisted of 106 Project Office respondents. Primary data was presented in the form of a questionnaire that was purposefully designed and based upon the sub-research questions. Secondary data was based on existing audits being performed on an ongoing basis as part of daily operations. The results of both primary and secondary data reflected vast measures of non-standardisation. Some areas were highlighted and discussed.

  • Alignment and standardisation of Project Offices across the market unit, as detailed in the following:
    • Organisational structures and reporting forums.
    • Process clarity and expectations needed more emphasis, especially in Nigeria.
    • Announcement of any changes in existing processes.
    • Hosting TG4 meetings and creating Project Specifications in the Nigerian Project Office.
    • Receiving Assignment Specifications from the pre-sales teams in the South African Project Office.
    • Needed more PMP® certified Project Managers.
    • Needed more Ericsson EPM and SPM certified Project Managers in the NRO and SI domains.
    • Formal handover from pre-sales to execution.
    • SOX key controls CC9.6.1.1, CC9.8.1.1.
    • Financial Analysis report.

Stakeholder’s buy in was essential for this type of change project, with specific focus on management buy-in and support. Effective leading of virtual teams by making use of the Central Functions team as change agents with a Manager driving the initiative was a key ingredient in this recipe of success. Involving all stakeholders affected by non-standardisation in the change management and alignment process was made more effective by following the guidelines as outlined by Pettigrew and Whipp (1991:385) in their Five Factors theory. Some highlights from this model are environmental assessment, leading change, linking strategic and operational change, strategic human resource management (human resources as assets and liabilities) and coherence in the management of change.

Conclusions will be based on chapter 4, in which data analysis was conducted, while recommendations and solutions are suggested based on the Five Factor Theory Model.

It seems apt to remind the reader of the constraints, within which this research was conducted.

5.1.1 Limitations

The limitations pertaining to this research are the following:

  • Analysis, building a new business process map and implementing it, requires a large amount of the selected team’s and researcher’s time in order to be effective and add value.
  • The researcher could experience ‘tunnel vision’ due to a long service history with the target group specified.
  • Internal audit findings and scoring are subjective; meaning that it could vary depending on the interpretation of the auditor combined with the level of motivation supplied by the person being audited.

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5.1.2 De-limitations

De-limitations pertaining to this research are:

  • The scope of the study will be focused on the staff forming part of four Project Offices in sub-Saharan Africa only.
  • All stakeholders within the ambit of this dissertation are internal to the organisation and consist mostly of project management resources representing the Nigerian and South African Project Offices.
  • Other departments within the organisation will receive limited focus, as only matrix interfaces will be considered.
  • The research is performed within the ambit of the telecommunications industry.

“Resonant leaders shatter the old leadership mould that was cast in the image of the captains of industry, those old-fashioned lead-from-the-top figures of authority who led largely by virtue of the power of their position. Increasingly, the best of breed lead not by virtue of power alone, but by excelling in the art of relationship, the singular expertise that the changing business climate renders indispensable. Leadership excellence is being redefined in interpersonal terms as companies strip out layers of managers, as corporations merge across national boundaries, and as customers and suppliers redefine the web of connection” Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee (2002:248).

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