Table of Contents

NON-STANDARDISATION OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROCESSES: A CASE STUDY OF ERICSSON SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - Part 6

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2.4 PROJECT OFFICES DEFINED

Figure 2.3 illustrates Project Offices in the market unit in relation to the central functions team. The central functions team was established in 2006, which is the only constant throughout all four Project Offices. This team is a group of five people consisting of a Manager based at the head office in Johannesburg and four regional representatives, each based in his respective Project Office. The Market Unit Functional Executive is both line and functional responsible for the central functions team manager. Kerzner (2006:34) comments that one of the most important factors of success is executive support. He elaborates: “There must be a champion at the top of the company who visibly supports the quest for maturity and excellence” (Kerzner, 2006:34).

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The main responsibilities of this team are ensuring that improvement and efficiency programs are developed, adapted, implemented and audited on an ongoing basis. All these programs are aligned with the vision, mission and goals of the business unit for global services governing all project activities within Ericsson around the globe. It is the responsibility of the central functions team to adapt these global programs to local conditions in order for them to be most effective. Operational excellence is the main driving force of this team’s activities. While their structure and goals are aligned and unified, the legacy that they deal with forms the crux of this dissertation.

Figure 2.3: Organisational structure depicting the Project Offices in relation to the central functions team (Source: Own source, 2006).

Each Project Office is managed by a Project Office Manager dedicated to each of four regions. The main functionality of the considered offices is similar, although the set up, roles, responsibilities and reporting varies, contributing to the non-standardisation. There is no standard reporting structure within the Project Offices. Some Project Managers report directly to the Project Office Manager, while other individuals with the same job function could report to the Key Account Organisation or a different organisational unit altogether. This makes it very difficult for the Project Office to implement changes and execute improvement programmes. While operating in a matrix type, organisation promotes ‘best practice’, too many cooks in the kitchen will derail any well-structured activity. Two types of management structures are applicable to each project management employee. A clear distinction is made between a Manager being functionally responsible versus a Manager being line responsible. The first would determine, implement and keep in check all aspects pertaining to project management practices, tools, certifications, organisational alignment to goals and objectives and improvement programs. In his turn, a Manager who is line responsible would determine compensation levels and increases, granting of leave, would take care of human resource activities within project management and execute performance reviews of individuals, which is often related to incentive programs.


The Project Office Manager is functionally and sometimes also line responsible for certain project staff like Project Managers, Program Managers and project administrative staff. In a similar instance, the Key Account Manager is functionally and sometimes line responsible for certain Project and Program Managers. Each Key Account Manager bears responsibility for specific customer accounts, which could be represented in multiple countries, hence crossing over more than one demarcated Project Office, as reflected in figure 2.4. This variance in reporting structures is the cause for a multitude of non-standardised practices. Four Project Offices are depicted each by a different colour in the Figure 2.4 below. South Africa is depicted with dark blue, Kenya by yellow, Nigeria by pink and Senegal by light blue. The red line that is drawn across the South African and Kenyan Project Office boundaries is illustrative of a typical customer being present in multiple countries. This is one of reasons why it is vital for all Project Offices to operate in a standardised manner.

Figure 2.4: Project Office and Key Account Manager for one customer overlap (Source: Own source, 2006).

2.5 SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS

The ‘Project Environmental Maturity Assessment’ and ‘Systems integration maturity’ projects are difficult to understand and, therefore, they are mainly implemented in the South African Project Office and to a lesser extent in the Nigerian Project Office. Many sections are left open to interpretation due to the complexity of these processes. It could be said that all versions of interpretation are correct and valid at the time, however, this does not lean itself towards standardised processes in support of successful project execution.

CPM KPIs are implemented in all Project Offices. Audits performed on the KPIs have different standards and interpretations, which requires some focus and re-alignment, as stated in the investigative questions.

All stakeholders within the ambit of this dissertation are internal to the organisation and consist mostly of project management resources, also called ‘traditional stakeholders’. A stakeholder is defined as a party who has the ability to impact the research problem statement, as discussed within the dissertation, or the one who is influenced by it. The outcome and implementation of results yielded from this dissertation would impact not only the traditional stakeholders as mentioned here, but also stakeholders such as industry partners, competitors, economic actors, socio-cultural actors, political/regulatory and technological actors. Though the importance of these ‘social’ stakeholders as defined by (Thiry, 2008:26) are not being disputed, the immediate focus in order to eradicate non-standardisation of project management processes is directly concentrated on traditional stakeholders as a first step in the change program.

Stakeholder buy-in is essential for this type of change project, with specific focus on management buy-in. A top down approach is taken in this endeavour, in which the process maps are generated by a team based at the head office in Sweden. New and/or revised processes are then passed to each market unit, where it becomes the responsibility of the central functions team to adjust and implement the given processes in each Project Office.

Once these stakeholders buy into the change management project, their support is needed in working with their direct and indirect reports. According to Steyn and Schmikl (2002:23), the importance of top management support is re-emphasised. The Project Office Managers will be seen as change management leaders, as they are required to lead their teams by example (Bucero, 2008:24). The challenge lies in blending regional cultures and ways of working with best practise.

In order to start creating a change programme, the processes and ways of work of each Project Office have to be recorded as they are applied, interpreted and audited presently. Thereafter, the best practice processes and ways of work can be identified. Kross (2005:48) states it very succinctly: “Project Managers must strive to link the outcome with the organisation’s mission, and this is inhibited when individuals are stuck within territorial disciplines.” Change leaders need to keep the company’s vision and mission in mind in order to ensure that selected ‘best practices’ are aligned and any gaps that are identified are addressed.

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Information contained within the ambit of this chapter supports the research question forming the crux of the dissertation and reads as follows: ‘What is required to standardise Project Management processes within disjointed Project Offices in sub-Saharan Africa to optimise project efficiency?’

In the next chapter the research design and methodology will be established and discussed, as well as the data capturing instruments to be used in order to assess and evaluate the varying measures of implementation of the mentioned processes. Audit procedures will be studied with results being mapped against the investigative questions, producing input into data analysis.

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