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In this chapter, an in-depth literature review will be presented on the concept of ‘non-standardisation of project management processes’. The thoughts and concepts that follow illustrate the processes that are currently in place, as well as their purpose, impact and relevance. The organisational structure in the market unit is depicted and discussed, as well as the central functions team, as it forms part of the change agent. The research includes not only effects of the concept in sub-Saharan Africa, but also the unique considerations applicable to Africa as a whole. The chapter will be concluded with a clear understanding of both the research question and research problem.

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Based on the diversity within this market unit, the impact of non-standardised project management processes on business objectives, organisational structure, roles and responsibilities are investigated. According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary (1982:1035, 688), the definition for standardisation is: “determination of properties of by comparison with a standard” and the word ‘non’ is freely used to give a negative sense: “not doing, failure to do”, hence non-standardisation is contrary to the first definition. By discussing several processes and models utilised by the organisation in this literature review, it should become evident that non-standardisation was unavoidable. Specific change models and processes are referred to as possible aids in trying to realign the Project Offices’ processes and procedures, while eradicating non-standardisation (Lynch, 2003:783).

In striving towards operational excellence; Ericsson’s head office in Sweden issues blue prints to all market units, containing basic requirements for essential project management processes. The purpose of these revised and/or new processes is essential in an ever-changing climate. It is said that change is the only constant, as translated from Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535–c. 475 BCE). Constant revitalisation of ways of work is what keeps the organisation ahead of its competitors, if performed correctly. It is then up to each market unit to effectively adapt, implement and maintain these processes, best suited to their local market conditions.

This section of the research will mainly focus on the Nigerian and South African Project Offices due to their operational maturity. Kerzner (2006:34) elaborates on progress of maturity as: “Maturity is both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitatively, we can measure results to see that improvements are taking place. Qualitatively, maturity involves the culture of the company, the ability of the people to work together, the amount of conflict requiring involvement of executive management and relationships with clients.” The Senegalese and Kenyan Project Offices base all their processes and procedures on the South African Project Office. The latter Project Offices will be affected once non-standardisation is eradicated, while all four Project Offices will be directly affected by the change process. In striving to be exceptionally efficient, being the partner of choice and mastering operational excellence, the Project Offices must standardise and simplify processes. Standardising business processes and procedures will allow the organisation to respond to customer’s needs faster with increased focus on delivering superior-quality business solutions, instead of squandering resources on putting the basic processes in place.

Having disjointed processes and procedures can cause disparity among employees and customers represented in multiple countries; they can perceive the project organisation as disorganised and unprofessional. It is vital for customers and employees to be confident and know for certain that the ways of work processes and procedures are similar across sub-Saharan Africa, so as to build trust and be efficient. While the basic requirements in terms of Project Management processes and procedures stay the same, the mentioned processes have to be adapted to accommodate each country’s cultural diversity, demographics, maturity and politics. According to Kerzner (2006:34), maturity is the effective use of tools and processes and not the development of them. Employees change assignments continuously and move from one country to another depending on the expertise required for those particular customer’s needs. It is for this reason that the need exists to simplify and standardise project management processes and procedures. It will ensure a smooth transition for any employee, minimising the impact of country-specific requirements. Having the same ways of work across Africa means that time, which is a precious commodity, can now be spent on essential and sustainable revenue-generating activities. Eng (2005:36) indicates the benefits of standardisation realised for SWIFT when saying that: “… an appropriate investment given the level of control and transparency we desire due to our focus on the cost side of the project management equation and the balance between cost, schedule and quality. He continues on to say: “It also ensures that a standard set of information is available for all projects, and common processes are being used to initiate and manage those projects”.


According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge®, the definition of project management processes is said to be an integrative endeavour – an action or failure to take action in one area will usually affect other areas (s.n., 2000:29 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 and are aimed towards ‘best practice’. Some of the most prevalent models and processes currently utilised are discussed in this section.

2.3.1 Project of Project Steering for Customer Projects (PROPS-C)

Figure 2.1 is an illustration of the PROPS model that was created by Ericsson in 1998 as a generic project model. PROPS-C is a model used for all customer project activities, hence the addition of ‘C’ after the acronym PROPS. The PROPS-C framework consists of five elements, namely the PROPS-C Life Cycle model, the PROPS-C Organisational model, the PROPS-C Business perspective, the PROPS-C Human perspective and the Project Management Knowledge areas.

The Project Management knowledge areas are based on nine knowledge areas specified in the Project Management Professional® (PMP) credential, as defined within the Project Management Institute® (PMI) framework. These knowledge areas are:

  • Integration.
  • Scope.
  • Time.
  • Cost.
  • Quality.
  • Human Resources.
  • Communication.
  • Risk.
  • Procurement.

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Using the above listed knowledge areas as a basis, Ericsson adapted them to better suit the organisation’s needs and added the tenth knowledge area called ‘value’. These areas are described as:

  • Integration – Integration of stakeholders, interfaces and dependencies.
  • Scope – Definition and management of scope and acceptance.
  • Time – Management and control of lead-time and time-schedule.
  • Finance – Budgeting and control of project cost and revenue.
  • Quality – Definition and management of quality in performance and outcome.
  • Human Resources – Resource acquisition and management of project teams.
  • Communication – Planning and control of project information flow.
  • Risk – Management and control of risks in a project.
  • Procurement – Planning and management of procurement of project result.
  • Value – Definition and management of project value.

In addition to the knowledge areas, PROPS-C comprises four elements, which are:

  • PROPS Business Perspective – In this perspective all activities within the organisation are aligned to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • PROPS Human Perspective – In this perspective an individual employee is seen as one of the organisation’s most valuable assets with an emphasis on team work, leadership and a shared understanding of Project Management concepts.
  • PROPS Project Life Cycle Model – In this perspective project phases, management activities and efforts are all aligned in a life cycle model.
  • PROPS Organisation Model – This perspective pertains to the Project Office, its visibility within the organisation and the level of support that it offers to Project Management.

Project Management processes are enclosed in the PROPS-C life cycle model, which consists of several phases and tollgates. Each of them is broken down further into subsections with very specific predefined processes and templates. Project analysis, planning, establishment, execution and realisation, hand-over and project conclusion are phases depicting the project life cycle. The end of a phase and the start of the next one are depicted by a tollgate decision that yields a ‘go’, ‘no-go’ outcome. The outcome dictates if the project will proceed to the next phase as planned, implement a change request and revise certain planned activities or conclude the project at that particular point of time.

Figure 2.1: PROPS-C Life Cycle Model (Source: Ericsson, 2008:Online).

Depending on the magnitude of the project and the operational maturity of the respective Project Office governing such project, a varying level of detailed application of the model is applied. Typically for emerging markets like this one, management and control of process adherence is challenged. Mature Project Offices see process adherence as part of daily operation, whereas a developing office finds process adherence an overhead that they may not be able to afford. It is within this realm that non-standardisation thrives.

Implementation of PROPS-C is mandatory in all Project Offices. The difference lies in the degree of its interpretation. In the South African Project Office, project management methodology is implemented based on the Project Management Institute® (PMI) standards. It is required that all Project Managers were Project Management Professionals® (PMP) certified in order to foster one project management ‘language’ and understanding. In the Nigerian project office, it is not a requirement for all Project Managers to be certified.

Figure 2.2 below depicts the PROPS-C and Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) requirements within the Project Office. These ways of work are used as an adherence benchmark during internal audits in order to prepare the project teams for annual audits performed by representatives from the head office in Sweden.

Figure 2.2: PROPS-C and Sarbanes Oxley adherence model (Source: own source, 2006).

The yellow boxes shown at the very top of Figure 2.2 reflect activities that should be performed within the lifecycle of the project, with the exception of the quarterly SOX progress follow-up checklist. The latter is performed at the end of each quarter in order to track active projects and their status. The blue boxes in the Fig. 2.2 titled ‘check points’ represent the audit check and validation areas. Each check point consists of specific and detailed activities, which the Project Manager is expected to perform and produce as evidence during auditing. The tollgate (TG) and sales decision point (SDP) annotations represent decision points in between the end of one phase and the start of the next one in the project. The sales process flow overlaps the delivery process flow and complements it in that business and delivery alignment is maintained throughout the project.

Throughout the life cycle of the project risk analysis and accompanying mitigation actions are maintained, which is illustrated in the yellow boxes in Fig. 2.2. A change request procedure is followed as per detailed instructions outlined in the project specification. Change requests can be issued by the customer or by the Project Manager in the event that the original scope, time/ine and or resource plan requires change. Progress reports should be produced during the project progress to internal and external stakeholders, as this forms a part of the project communication plan. Continuous financial analysis will reflect the health of the project with a focus on maintaining positive cash flow. In conclusion, a quarterly Sarbanes Oxley key control is performed in all active projects during that quarter.

The phase between TG1, SDP1 and TG2, SDP3 is called the project planning phase. During this phase opportunities are identified and acted upon in the form of a customer proposal. An Assignment Specification is created in order to request a pre-sales team to be appointed by the organisation in order to work on the customer proposal. A pre-sales project budget is developed based on estimations made in reference to the proposed scope of delivery. The output is a proposal to the customer, which is reviewed by a pre-sales team to ensure that contractual terms and conditions are followed, the proposed solution will satisfy the customer’s needs and the proposal supplied to the customer is correct.

The phase between TG2, SDP3, and TG5, SDP4, is called the project execution phase. During this phase the actual project delivery takes place. The delivery Project Manager is appointed at this stage, who writes Project Specification, in which all deliverables to the customer, as well as the support organisation, are described in details. In the handover from pre-sales to delivery, the pre-sales team has an extensive meeting with the Project Manager, in which scope assumptions, budget calculations, contract terms and conditions, as well as risk items identified are explained and handed over. ‘Project set up’ is an activity, in which the project structure is created in the financial system. With the support of an employee from the Finance department, the project set up is completed in order for the Project Manager to do all project financial planning and control within the lifecycle of the project. Once the project is set up in the financial system, the Project Manager is able to initiate procurement related to the project.

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The phase depicted post TG5, SDP4, is called the project conclusion phase. Within this phase contract fulfillment is ensured. The Project Manager is responsible to guarantee that all revenue is recognised, all internal, as well as external costs are accounted for in accordance with the Sarbanes Oxley directive and that a final report is drawn. In the final report the Project Manager will perform a post mortem of the project, in which comparisons are drawn between pre-sales criteria and close-out deliverables. Deviations are noted in a lessons learned session between the Project Manager and the pre-sales team, from which the Project Manager takes delivery of the project.

This constitutes to a great extent the ways of work pertaining to PROPS-C, the sales process and Sarbanes Oxley key controls.

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