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Construction Management and
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Project management competence in public sector
infrastructure organisations
Pantaleo Mutajwaa Daniel Rwelamila a
Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, UNISA 0003,
South Africa

Online Publication Date: 01 January 2007
To cite this Article: Rwelamila, Pantaleo Mutajwaa Daniel (2007) 'Project
management competence in public sector infrastructure organisations', Construction
Management and Economics, 25:1, 55 - 66
To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/01446190601099210


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education. culture. public sector. the activity of the construction industry (CI) delivery process and of the contracting options and has reached every South African community. nor appropriate and sufficient staff to carry out its objectives. accepted 2 November 2006 Public sector organisations responsible for infrastructure development in most non-industrialised countries. Recommendations are made that the programme in its current form cannot fulfil its mandate successfully without a fundamental overhaul. There are strong indications to suggest that these organisations’ project management (PM) competencies leave a lot to be desired. UNISA 0003. on budget. housing and produc. while in reality they are predominantly dependent on accidental project managers. infrastructure organisations. addressing its organisational structure. The focus is on one of the premiere programmes managed by the departments/ministries such that almost 25% of the Construction Management and Economics ISSN 0144-6193 print/ISSN 1466-433X online # 2007 Taylor & Francis http://www. At face value they purport to be fully fledged project-oriented organisations and performing as competent PM organisations.1080/01446190601099210 . the number of civil transport and communication. 1994 when the new democratic government started its the SAIDs require sound knowledge of the design and business. on budget and to higher standard Industry Development Board (CIDB). import and export. 2004).2 million to just over 1 million (CIDB. but tive DOI: 10. South Africa Received 3 June 2006. The programme’s management system is found to be very poor and at the lowest level of maturity (level 1 out of 5). the also by project teams and by themselves. construction industry is given impetus by government’s It is in the context of these challenges that govern- commitment to infrastructure investment to achieve ment infrastructure departments (SAIDs) are under economic growth and to address the infrastructure pressure to deliver projects on time. which include infrastructure departments/ministries. management (PM) competences for individuals. facilitat. The management of the programme is scrutinised in order to establish the department/ministry’s PM competence. non-industrialised countries. University of South Africa. 55–66 Project management competence in public sector infrastructure organisations PANTALEO MUTAJWAA DANIEL RWELAMILA* Graduate School of Business Leadership. parastatal organisations and other statutory organisations qualify as project-oriented organisations (POO).ac. within backlog emanating from apartheid (Construction utility requirements. servants decreased from just over 1. personnel qualifications and programme management system. and to all the logistics of a growing economy that increasingly supports an inte- The need for sustained growth of the South African grated and economically active population. 2004). ments are articulated and realised—they require project electrification.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Construction Management and Economics (January 2007) 25. health.tandf. South Africa. This paper reports on a study that was carried out in one of the large infrastructure departments in South Africa. According to the CIDB (2004). It is found that the programme in its current form could be described as a ‘white elephant’ and a programme that does not have an appropriate organisation structure. Introduction industry development. Since of quality. performance and capability of the industry is pivotal to But between 1994 and 2001. Keywords: Project management competence. procurement strategies through which their require- ing the objectives of potable water. sewage disposal. The resulting capacity constraints have significantly affected infrastructure *E-mail: rwelapmd@unisa. An evaluation of the performance of the programme was carried out in relation to the ministry’s mandate in order to assess its PM competence. In order to meet these project parameters. PO Box

South African government capacity constraints in But how do they (the SAIDs) know if their projects infrastructure departments are not peculiar to South truly are meeting set objectives embodied in their Africa. improved productivity and improved cus- within all infrastructure departments/ministries to tomer relationships. framework of each and every report. South African conducted to date in South Africa or other non- infrastructure departments (SAIDs) are under pressure industrialised countries in the world to determine PM to improve performance in order to address develop. They seem to be common almost in all non. It is very progress in pursuit of best-in-class project management important therefore to note that the findings reported status. 2003. (1997) structure department as indicated in Table 1 is so huge questions: that the only way to coordinate and deal with these ‘Are we achieving the results we desire?’ ‘Are we projects under a high level of staff turnover and limited meeting our customer’s success criteria?’ and ‘Are we budgets is for the departments to be fully fledged achieving our desired return on investment?’ project-oriented organisations (POOs).Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 56 Rwelamila procurement budget of these infrastructure depart. According to Schlichter determine WOB’s PM maturity/competence. Johnson. However. All these are fundamental if the supplement PM expertise from these experts ( assessed in this paper could be used towards addressing capacity and further developed for 1995). Broadman and the national largest programmes managed by WOB. Parker and Kirkpatrick. 2004). Kaplan and Norton. ity assessment can provide the basis to evaluate 2003. results from a case study of a major national pro- oriented departments or ministries. individuals. gramme managed by one of the South African The success of these infrastructure departments infrastructure departments (SAIDs) and to use these (IDs) is contingent on being able to make predictions results to recommend an appropriate process (in steps) and commitments relative to their services and pro.’s (1997) questions are forming the responsibility of managing a number of programmes. . PM has led a number of organisations to be ments/ministries is now spent on private sector experts more effective and efficient in delivery of their products providing policy advice and project management and services. Harris. ture department seems to ask Florac et al. competence levels of public sector infrastructure mental constraints facing the country. mandate? Project management competences or matur- industrialised countries (Fay and Yepes. In order to the alternative ways to succeed. Lynch and The management of the programme (which will be Cross. The need for project management expertise scheduling. PM competences have to be described.gcis.) Department of Public Works (DPW) 5 35 Department of Housing (DoH) 6 31 Department of Local Government (DoLG) 6 18 Department of Transport (DoT) 6 30 Department of Water Affairs & Forestry (DWAF) 16 55 Source: www. to have more accurate budgeting and services. Every infrastruc- The number of projects falling under every infra. which could be used by any public sector POO to move ducts. (1999). 2000. ‘building a project management centre of excellence’. The need for the SAIDs to function fully referred to as KProg) is scrutinised in order to establish as project-oriented departments or ministries is one of the ministry’s PM maturity/competence. The fact that the departments/ministries. The focus is on one of Skulmonski and Ginger. SAIDs are structured along programmes. teams and constraints in other non-industrialised countries. an Table 1 Infrastructure departments programmes and projects (2004–05) Infrastructure department Number of programmes Number of projects (approx. creating an environment for successful projects or These project management competences are exten. 1992. sively referred to as ‘project management maturity’ in In order to maintain the department’s anonymity it is various theory and practice literature (for example in referred to in this paper as WOB. SAIDs are to meet their mission and vision. there is no research that has been As clearly indicated in Table 1.pdf (accessed 28 April 2006). strongly suggests that they are project. 1995. This paper aims to partly fulfil this gap by presenting quently projects. As indicated above their project management smoothly to higher levels of the PM maturity ladder by competences are fundamental to making this a reality. and conse. it is clear become fundamental in order to deal with an enormous that Florac et al. tants) and coordinate all PM responsibilities has Going through the SAIDs annual reports.

WOB also model are described elsewhere (Humphrey. Finally. First a brief context of WOB and KProg is provided. PM competences can be WOB and KProg—the context differentiated for individuals. managed and optimised according to the understandable. organisational PM competence were developed (Ibbs KProg is one of the three major national programmes and Kwak. under WOB. and Huemann (2000) define PM competence as: These results are also compared with previous results presented in the theory and practice review and a brief … the ability to perform the project management process efficiently. for project teams and for the organisation. defined. The PM business management training. project at this level depends on individual effort. 1998). has the responsibility of promoting public sector Paulk et al. junction with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) WOB has established a limited capacity to give effect to in the United States of America (USA). monitoring and dissemination of govern. to manage the public sector adopted for this study as indicated in Table 2 and database of its clients. (CMM) for software development. Some of the key objectives of KProg are: to make organisation. access to such training opportunities. planning. repea- the project procurement process more accessible.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Project management competence 57 evaluation of the performance of the KProg was carried Theory and practice of project management out in relation to WOB’s mandate. as well as public and private sector partnerships. utility and schedule problems. project maturity level: This paper is organised as follows. Most of these are based on the have a programme that will provide direct and Project Management Institute (PMI) (2000) Guide to comprehensive support to small-scale emerging firms the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Interfacing with access to finance by cooperation with relevant institu. Then. Secondly the is a measure of its effectiveness in delivering projects (or programmes – author’s emphasis) theory and practice of PM competence review and the purpose of this paper are presented. scheduling. encouraging the establishment of appropriate loan At level 2 (repeatable) PM systems and processes for scheme programmes and mechanisms. Success of any streamlining of payment arrangements to limit cash. 1997. 1989. the paper concludes with some Gareis and Huemann (2000) further argue that the PM recommendations. Goldsmith. to monitor the success of policy briefly described below. According to Gareis and procurement and monitoring a culture supportive of Huemann (2000). An argue that traditional competence models (the important role of KProg is to influence construction SEICMM and most of those models based on the industry transformation in a manner that purposefully PMBOK) use four to five steps to describe and mea- encourages the emergence of these small and emerging sure the competence to perform a specific project in an firms. as well as improved process is unclear and projects are marked by cost. A clear reflection is competence made on KProg’s original intent of advancing the transformation process of the construction industry and According to Dinsmore (1999). tracking and estimating are in . In the POO. and they exist if there is PM knowledge as well as PM experience. 1997. to develop its client systems and procedures are poorly defined. transparent and streamlined for the SEICMM (Paulk et al... PM competence models to describe and measure ment. Carnegie Mellon University Capability Maturity Model ment policy for construction industry development. Details of this three major programmes (including KProg). since flow constraints of its clients. to review the project management processes in place. and with communication problems. Fincher and Levin. and support instruments and enable the effective At level 1 (initial) an organisation has no formal targeting of support to its clients. WOB is one of the five infrastructure departments Existing PM competence models (PM maturity (SAIDs) and is responsible for coordinating the models) or assessment approaches are based on the development. The scale usually used is initial. functional areas within the organisation is usually laden tions through programmes aimed at reducing risk. competences relate to specific PM tasks to be fulfilled. These levels have been benefit of its client. The aim of establishing KProg was to 1997. 1991). 1991). prepared in con- Within the framework of its national programmes. Hartmann. an organisation’s diversifying its shareholding structure. (as its client base) to participate in the South African Dinsmore (1999) and Gareis and Huemann (2000) construction industry within their areas of expertise. Gareis results of the case study are presented and discussed. summary of the salient findings and their implications is presented. during the late 1990s several specific efficient client practice and improved delivery manage. the key Strengthening Dinsmore’s (1999) definition. table. and to facilitate quality.

‘Projektmanagement Group’ of the University of At the defined level (level 3) the POO has a Business Administration and Economics in Vienna. spider’s web’ principles. on being able to make predictions and commitments Systems are able to generate integrated management. management of project discontinuities. characteristics as described above in assessing PM and cost and schedule fluctuations persist throughout competences of WOB. PM competence or maturity in PM is of interest to PM ting. Consequently. The rolled up across all projects and analysed from an tools are seen as a solution to some of the performance organisation-wide standpoint. which can be accessed tion is viewed as one that is better able to meet its for estimating and benchmarking purposes. project start. commitments in terms of its services and products (for At the top level of PM maturity (the optimised level). Huemann. but also by project teams and requirements and what Dinsmore refers to as ‘in-the. relative to their services and products. an organisational basis. (1991). this study has also added ‘the the projects. yet they are not used in a fully integrated Although retaining the traditional competence model form. Reliable information can be such as project sponsor. project control. ment is measured and controlled. Project perfor. According to Gareis and Huemann trenches’ tracking needs are met. The PM tion is a reality. A sophisticated system organisations (POO) like the SAIDs are required not exists such that both top-level management reporting just by individuals. Strong emphasis is placed on scope management. professionals at an infrastructure department level like thus the project success rate is high. developed by the although schedule information is generally abundant. not formalised N No adequate guidance N No consistency in product delivery Source: Paulk et al. project coordination. There is no integration of databases. These are: utility considerations are considered appropriately. linked with the information flow on major projects it is fair to argue that the success of SAIDs is contingent and knows how to use and interpret the information. project . There is a WOB since a PM competent or PM mature organisa- consolidated project database. are integrated into the specifically on how its PM processes relate to managing organisation systems and procedures. (2000) these competences have to correlate. Management is From the background information described above. standardised approach to project management within where PM sub-processes are considered in the study in the organisation. order to clearly understand how WOB is organised and defined and documented. Hence for the description and measurement of mance is predictable. level information without reprocessing and reformat. place and perceived as important within a POO. Project performance tends to conform to plans. Resource optimisa. project management processes within an organisation PM competences (PM maturity) in project-oriented are continuously improved. and design of PM process. problems. Project success continues to be unpredictable. model are described in detail elsewhere (Gareis and At the fourth level (managed level) process manage. The project management systems. example in managing KProg). programme manager. organisations. Details of the Vienna projects. 1998). KProg.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 58 Rwelamila Table 2 PM maturity levels Competence level Description 55Optimised N Continual improvement of process N Continual collection of data to identify N Analysis of defects for prevention 45Managed N Process is quantitatively measured N Minimum of metrics for quality and productivity exist N Collection of process experiences 35Defined N Process defined and institutionalised N Process groups defined 25Repeatable N Process depends on individuals N Minimum of process controlling/guidance exists N Highly risky in case of new changes 15Initial N Ad hoc process. not only at the project level but also on competences of individuals performing project roles. PM competences six areas (of the Vienna model) are Schedule and cost performance tend to improve and imposed on the traditional model (Table 2). with a high degree of accuracy. project close- which is perceived as a fundamental part of managing down.

This environ. project teams and organisations can be described. the more differentiated it becomes and the higher becomes its (lean management. argue Gareis and Huemann (2000). measured and further developed. N it must apply a ‘new management paradigm’ organisation holds in its project portfolio. the organisation sponsoring the project. an organisation should have the following characteristics (Gareis and Huemann. tional strategy. politics and other social pressures as indicated in Figure 2. The more projects of different types an provide integrative functions. N organisation of organisational learning by pro- jects. and organisations involved in project imple- mentation. In order to support the learning organisation). N quality planning.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Project management competence 59 manager or project team member. sational design as indicated in Figure 1. forces from the country/economy and forces coming from the world environment on economics. is a condition for the need to have a significant maturity Source: Gareis and Huemann (2000). structure and culture of the POO. 2000): N organisational differentiation and decentralisa- tion of management responsibility. performance of complex processes. N it must manage a portfolio of different project types. a PM centre of that a POO must consider projects as tools to perform competence and a project portfolio steering committee. N adoption of temporary organisations for the N goal orientation and personnel development. the sector or industry relevant to the service or product resulting from the project. N management by projects must be an organisa. complex processes and as strategic options for organi. Huemann (2000) and Dinsmore (1999) strongly insist that the POO must adopt specific integrative structures Based on the above seven characteristics. the POO is the organisational strategy of organisations dealing with characterised by the existence of an explicit PM an increasingly complex environment. and N it must perceive itself to be project oriented. total quality management (TQM). business process re-engineering and management complexity. they suggest. successful delivery of individual projects. have to be in accordance with the PM competences of the organisa- tion as a whole as documented in its procedures. A project-oriented organisation (POO)—the characteristics In order for an organisation to qualify as a POO. Programmes and projects are perceived as temporary N it must have specific permanent organisations to organisations for the performance of complex pro- cesses. It is important to note that management by project is In order to embrace PM good practices. such as a set of PM-related values. expert pools. Some of these permanent organisations. it is important such as a strategic centre. which Figure 1 Strategy. By applying management by projects. Gareis and Huemann (2000) further argue that this competence has to be explicitly developed by the organisation. culture. control and assurance by pro- ject team work and holistic project definitions. level in project management. Gareis and culture. might be virtual. The PM competences of individuals. and ensure N it must have an explicit project management the compliance of the objectives of the different projects with an organisation strategy. norms ment is affected by a number of forces originating from the project itself. the organisation will be able to sail through the forces indicated in Figure 2 and pursue the following objectives: Figure 2 Project management in a complex environment . As PM has to be considered as a core competence of the POO.

’s (2002a and b) footsteps. and the ideal strategies to improve fundamentals. duration in the business. the author was confronted with the questionnaire for KProg clients. This paper aims to partly fulfil this gap KProg.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 60 Rwelamila and procedures (Dinsmore. processes used (and project sustainability – author’s emphasis). a review of theory and practice in rural areas). their sources of Objects of consideration in the PM process (Gareis finance. 2000) are: (including reasons behind their dissatisfaction). the project context objectives and tools used to meet them). management of project operation. processes in addressing and practice knowledge base on PM competences KProg clients. geographical area of ling. required—comprising the core concepts of lean These instruments were designed based on a typical management. facing them and their businesses. Following in Priest et al. Gareis and Huemann projects. questions in line with PM maturity levels as indicated tion. the application of a new paradigm is institutions offering financial support to KProg clients. in the preceding sections include: a 33 questions Furthermore. their the PM process. and their evaluation of KProg performance and Huemann. and project close-down. Furthermore. busi. total quality management (TQM). types following sub-processes: project start. project control. project coordination. of projects they were involved in. Although structured interviews and a workshop were used in this research survey to deal with respondents Design of research instruments and research within the research territory. (2000) argue that in order to manage a POO and a 13 questions questionnaire for private and public successfully. it is important to note Design of research instruments that one of the most challenging aspects of conducting Research instruments used in this study and referred to qualitative research lies in the analysis of the data. above were designed. The PM process consists of the organisations’ profiles. ment can be applied to design the PM process. in Table 2 above. 1999. as well questions on their formal skills in the (2000) argue that it is possible to measure the quality of types of businesses they were involved in. the project included questions on KProg development from its schedule and the project costs. succeeded in accessing clients across the country (more In conclusion. level of business involvement. by defining its objectives on the general background of the respondents and their and by defining its deliverables. the project culture. there is an procedures and training of clients. The spider’s web six axes areas as By perceiving PM as a business process of the POO. Gareis and questionnaire for regional KProg managers. The KProg regional managers questionnaire … the project objectives. in monitoring their clients (including updating of The achievable deliverables of each PM sub-process KProg database). processes which could be used by any public sector POO to move smoothly to higher levels of a PM Research method maturity ladder. described above were used to reflect on the questions Dinsmore (1999) and Gareis and Huemann (2000) and thus four summarised questionnaires as described strongly suggest that the methods of process manage. problems discontinuities. their assessment of WOB as the can be compared with the resource requirements for KProg parent department on the extent to which it has the performance of the PM sub-process. Gareis and Huemann questions questionnaire for national WOB key officers. ment competences in private businesses and none on policy on client relations management. Furthermore a questionnaire for public and by presenting results from a case study of a major private financial institutions had questions focused on national programme carried out by one of the South their policy on the support of KProg clients and tools African infrastructure departments (SAIDs) and use used to measure success of their support to KProg the results as a basis of recommending good practice clients. the foundation of the study was focused on conducting a qualitative method research—through a case study. As indicated above. a 39 questions challenge of satisfying the ‘quantitative research . 2000). as well as the project inception to its current phase. evident need to analyse the status of PM competences The national WOB key officers questionnaire in public sector organisations and provide direction for focused on the relationship between KProg and other more research on the issue and contribute to the theory programmes within WOB. client complaint public sector POOs. achievements (on KProg organization. performance of their clients. By The KProg clients questionnaire included questions describing the PM process. SEICMM questionnaire which has 148 multiple choice ness process re-engineering and the learning organisa. tion in managing clients. a 13–19 Huemann. appropriateness of existing documenta- suggests that there are few studies of project manage. the scope of work.

three different approaches possible solutions to those problems. Perren and Ram. Ragin and Becker. an interactive process planned which it was hoped would yield valuable input. private limited firms . Yin. interviews were carried out with senior officers of two Gibb and Wilkins (1991). 2002a and b. which are widely accepted.g. both Survey findings from the scale of work they are involved in and the importance of their activities across the country KProg clients survey results (looking at three tiers of the public sector—local authority. Structured interviews based on a ques- used structured questionnaires to collect data. ing a single programme. similar criteria to those used to select a do not total 438 as some respondents chose not to focus department were used. Stake. country attended. Stake. an intensive scrutiny was made of the five SAID’s PM portfolio (see Table 1). 1992. about 12% representing five SAIDs have been dealt with above and of the clients on the KProg client database.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Project management competence 61 believers’ who strongly argue that quantitative research programme boundaries). in order to have representative data on PM competences in SAIDs. Participants however objected to tive analysis. 2004.. study (and one case study for that matter) can represent The sample was randomly chosen from a total of 3. Gomm et al. content analysis and narra. 1995. Eisenhardt. Another set of structured of case research within the management literature. its strengths and weaknesses. Partnerships. The department— The following responses were obtained from a ques- WOB was thus identified as fulfilling the most of the tionnaire survey of a randomly selected sample of two criteria. In many of the questions the responses Within WOB.817 a study on five SAIDs. which has depth in terms of what is supposed to be accomplished (scale of work) Company profile: type of firm and the position of the programme when looked at The most popular type of firm for the respondents was across the three levels of the public sector (across local the closed corporation. Yin (1994). what they called ‘a piecemeal review of KProg’. provincial and national). These are: of issues aligned with the programme was compiled and grounded theory analysis. interviewed through structured open-ended questions points to the classic case studies by Whyte (1943) and (between 13 and 19 questions depending on the Allison (1971). is sound and the way in which it was selected is problems hindering it from fulfilling its mission and balanced. Another tionnaire (33 questions) were carried out with KProg section of ‘case study sceptics’ will still see how a case clients identified from the existing KProg database. for example cite Blau’s randomly selected institutions (one private and one (1955). for example. provincial and national—looking at the ships.. KProg was identified as the is the only reliable approach and the ‘case study largest programme within WOB and across other sceptics’ who feel that case studies do not provide an SAIDs based on the criteria. The ‘quantitative In this research a thorough literature review (theory research believers’ and some of the ‘case study sceptics’ and practice) in the KProg primary business area was will feel comfortable that the author has intensively carried out. According to Perren and Ram (2004). views with KProg clients described above by reviewing Based on these findings. 1994). 1991. appropriate base for reliable findings. the philosophy and implications of the case study A one-day KProg clients’ organisations workshop was method have received considerable attention in the held. KProg clients. but focusing on identify. The strengths of one case study KProg clients and consisted of 458 clients. There have also been seminal examples relevance of the question). The original intention of the work- 1994. questions). 2000. Structured the only issue to be argued here is the strength of using interviews were carried out also with regional KProg the case study method for this research project. Furthermore. First. trust firms. where 13 randomly selected representatives of methodological literature (e. shop was to supplement the questionnaire-based inter- Priest et al. managers (39 questions). the the various objectives of KProg and assess whether it was author feels strongly that the method used in this study meeting these objectives. 1989. Gibb KProg clients’ organisations drawn from all over the and Wilkins. answer the question. In the unanimous opinion of the participants the programme had been overtaken by events and they preferred a Case study data strategic. comprehensive evaluation. The case study method has a long and respected Other relevant national WOB key officers were history in the social sciences. Gouldner’s (1954) and Dalton’s (1959) work public) offering financial support to KProg clients (13 on bureaucracy. To this end a series were used to analyse and interpret data. which they hoped would lead to a major overhaul. followed by sole proprietor- authority.

and ‘lack of financial and managerial skills’. financial management skills (51%) and project indicated in Table 3.60 Complicated tendering procedures 3. ‘credit or cashflow pro. however. identified by 223 KProg clients programme. Opinion was generally This question was aimed at identifying the geographical split between those who assessed KProg favourably and scope of operations of the firm. It is municipality or within a district or region. The results seen more favourably in facilitating KProg clients to show that most of the KProg clients have a provincial access training and has best reviews in providing work scope of operations. satisfied’. ‘complicated tendering procedures’.00 Slow progress payments 3.10 Lack of financial and managerial skills 3. The largest group. It can be categorised according to whether the KProg clients concluded that KProg performs poorly in facilitating its indicated they carried out jobs in and out of the clients to access credit facilities. with KProg were: Managerial skills and training required N Lack of perceived help—this was identified by 19 The skills or training KProg clients would like to respondents and focused on the lack of (per- acquire most to help them in their businesses (Table 5) ceived) support to KProg clients from the are tendering skills.85 Credit or cashflow problems 3.28 Lack of experience 2. and in facilitating country. in Botswana. with few adopting a neutral Geographical area of operation stance as indicated in Table 6. and the ‘satisfactory’ 1% were ‘somewhat dissatisfied’. 10% ‘quite ‘slow progress payments’. followed by satisfied with the administration of KProg. anywhere within the country. 15% saw KProg’s performance as just blems’. Most KProg clients either agreed with or disagreed with the assessments of KProg. management skills (50%). Surprisingly. given the reported small nature of KProg client firms. and the responses were those who saw it in an unfavourable light. Overall. The ‘lack of 32% were ‘very dissatisfied’.09 Lack of technical skills 2. Only one KProg client KProg clients. close corporations outnumbered Evaluation of KProg on the basis of expectations sole proprietorships by almost 7. within a number KProg clients to acquire knowledge in competitive of provinces. considered themselves very nities’ as the biggest problem facing them.23 .Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 62 Rwelamila Table 3 Respondents type of firm Type of firm Number Percentage Close corporation 388 85 Sole proprietor 51 11 Partnership 10 2 Other: Trust 5 1 Pty Ltd 2 0 Non-profit organisation 2 0 Total 458 99 and non-profit organisations were not popular as (51%). in only one province. to KProg’s performance. within a city or estimating techniques and business management. technical skills’ and the ‘lack of experience’ were not The reasons given for KProg clients’ dissatisfaction seen as significant as indicated in Table 4. Table 4 Main problems faced by KProg clients Problems faced Ranking (average) Lack of steady work opportunities 4. 41%. with 82% of them carrying out opportunities and mobilising support nationally for works within one province. opinion is divided as carried out work out of the country. Main problems faced by KProg clients Satisfaction with the administration of KProg KProg clients ranked ‘lack of steady work opportu.5 to 1.

a perceived preference for financially strong KProg clients tory’ by 16% of the respondents. KProg is providing work 42 9 10 4 35 opportunities and mobilising support nationally for its clients KProg is facilitating for its clients to access 26 3 5 3 63 credit facilities KProg is facilitating for its clients to access 43 5 4 3 45 training KProg is facilitating its clients to acquire 36 4 6 2 52 knowledge in competitive estimating techniques and business management . considering that only 22% were ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ to ‘very dissatisfied’ with the database. To this end a series neutral. participants they felt that the programme had been monitoring and management. These figures show a fairly even an interactive process planned which it was hoped would split between positive and negative views on KProg. as ‘quite N Inadequate training by the programme (7 satisfactory’ by 10%. nonetheless. Table 6 Assessment of KProg’s performance Statements Fully met with my Nearly met with my Percentage of KProg clients expectations expectations Neutral Somewhat Not at all Through the WOB. yield valuable input. 19% see its performance as a long-term tool as of issues aligned with the programme was compiled and fair and 23% as poor. and as problems hindering it from fulfilling its mission and beneficial by 15% of them. little information on procedures and on the services offered by KProg. This is a favourable review overtaken by events and they preferred a strategic. results were other factors that caused dissatisfac- tion among KProg clients. ents complained that there was poor feedback to them after tendering. Workshop with KProg clients’ organisations The original intention of the workshop was to review the Overall assessment of KProg (its long-term usefulness) various objectives of the KProg and assess whether it was KProg is seen as an excellent tool for long-term meeting these objectives. its strengths and weaknesses. satisfactory’ by 54% of the respondents. poor procedures (5). Eighteen per cent are possible solutions to those problems. Help Desk Facilitator ability to provide advice and N No projects—10 respondents used the lack of assistance The Help Desk Facilitator was viewed as ‘very results in terms of projects awarded from KProg to show their dissatisfaction. likening it to rearranging deck- Almost half (48%) the respondents interviewed were very chairs on the Titanic. Participants however objected to what they referred to as ‘a piecemeal review of KProg’ KProg database as a tool for KProg clients’ assessment and its performance. In the unanimous opinion of the satisfied with the database as a tool for their assessment. Its performance was seen as ‘somewhat unsatisfactory’ by 2% and ‘very unsatisfac- respondents).Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Project management competence 63 Table 5 Desired skills and training Skills Number of KProg clients Percentage Tendering 223 51 Financial management 221 51 Project management 217 50 Operations management 195 45 Estimating 163 37 General business management 160 37 Material management 110 25 People management 105 24 Other specify 32 7 N Poor feedback/communication—16 KProg cli. Though in the (4) and the long period before results positive minority this is still a significant number. business success by 28% of KProg clients.

they had serious concerns about the did not build on the strengths of the existing monitoring mechanism for KProg clients. N WOB seemed uncomfortable with strong critical In order to interpret the above results through PM maturity levels as indicated in Table 2 above. They were N There was a perception by participants that the especially concerned with the database. quadrant 3 – responsible for KProg level 3. and has made no attempt achieve numbers of clients or sustainable clients. especially finance. clients and their capabilities. extensive Excel spreadsheet was formulated and the alisation of the organisations. and attempts to programme. pendent of KProg. especially those expressed by KProg clients’ organisations. quadrant 2 – level 2. preferring to deal with individuals. African construction industry. The decision to give equal points was based . behind its strategy were flawed. There was to what is called ‘a major overhaul’. The programme In addition. one of the biggest Opinion is split as to the performance of clients in problems with the programme arose because of KProg. nal managers are of the opinion that KProg objectives N There was also little emphasis on the need to have not been achieved. quadrant 4 – level 4 and quadrant 5 – level 5. no limit to the number of clients entering the While acknowledging the need for KProg as an programme.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 64 Rwelamila comprehensive evaluation. which they hoped would lead check and verify information and capacity. research results were mapped within the five levels of N KProg’s emerging clients database was a power. N The programme did not formalise a regular framework and process of review. which was emerging KProg clients but instead chose to either poor or non-existent. maturity. Most regio- sort out genuine KProg clients from opportunists. output model as shown in Figure 2. Furthermore. an views. A fundamental assertion by regional managers was N KProg did not bring the KProg clients’ organisa- that the KProg mandate is not clear as whether to tions on board ab initio. whatever their entry level was to an exit level unsustainable work opportunities. some of the problems identified with KProg as it stood: The regional managers concentrated on the techni- cal. executing aspects of the programme. The following are client performance and client dissatisfaction. For lack of space N Inadequate attention to the major problems the spreadsheet is not provided but the synthesis results are described below. This created problems later on in terms of poor KProg ous criticisms of the programme. clarify this to the regional offices must be made in order N Who constitutes KProg clients? In the unanimous to ensure the entire programme pulls together. which was seen fundamental premise underpinning the philoso- as poorly designed and managed. which led to the margin. Quadrant 1 Summary of findings: regional officers represented level 1. taking up too much phy of KProg and the underlying reasoning time to maintain and not user-friendly. KProg and the environment where they exist ful tool for driving transformation that appeared to be poorly implemented and not fulfilling its were simultaneously analysed by using the input– function. though all saw signs of progress if their the absence of a filtering mechanism that could recommendations were carefully enforced. corresponding characteristics of WOB. opinion of the participants. This has been attributed develop KProg clients and pull them from mainly to the lack of screening of participants (clients). participants had numer. and did not establish milestones for the achievement of Synthesis of results objectives. This to give them a voice in the running of the goes to the core of the KProg function. Every answer coming from respondents was given an The managers identified a KProg major weakness as equal weight of two points (if supporting the character- the blanket acceptance of every client who had applied istic. By interpreting maturity levels characteristics it was possible to link the findings to the five quadrants where each quadrant represented a maturity level. the lack of financial predetermined where they could then be inde- resources and little training. The end result was a negative more work. then +2 was given and when not supporting –2 without physically visiting the client business office to was given). little or no attempt at a screening process intervention to level the playing field in the South and no focus so the targeted market became too broad. The programme was seen focus on identifying weaknesses and attempting as lacking sustainability because it couldn’t provide to correct them. as KProg cannot guarantee work on a instead of positive scrutiny of emerging KProg sustainable basis. faced by KProg clients.

Graham and Englund (2004) propose a seven-step ble success on various projects falling under KProg process as follows: are dependent on individuals. the scores as products or services. 2002. Graham absence of appropriate systems and procedures. For this reason. indicated in Table 7 were realised. a list of steps is given here. This is possible if and only if public success or failure of the organisations was dependent sector POOs have consciously formulated standing on their involvement in the programme as either clients operational procedures. description of work processes. (1971) Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban 35Defined +10 & 290 Missile Crisis. 25Repeatable +30 & 270 Blau. For these public sector organisa. (1955) The Dynamics of Bureaucracy. managing project managers It seems that government ministries or departments 5th step: Establishing a project manager’s develop- have good intentions and basic ideas on how to deal ment programme with implementation of various responsibilities within 6th step: Making project management a career their mandate. recommended above will require teamwork and cross- tions to benefit from this choice of organising around organisational cooperation. the position 3rd step: Developing a process for project selection of WOB need to be reassessed and reorganisation of its 4th step: Developing upper manager’s abilities in framework revisited. there are embrace PM as a core competence. there and Englund. The choice to organise around projects position is an appropriate one. P. to become a fully fledged POO will be quite incompa- Clear lessons could be learnt from this study for all tible with the organisational culture. Boston. Even if systemic infrastructure departments/ministries in other non- changes are made in the organisation. tools and training for an appropriate abilities to manage its programme as a POO. IL. Chicago. MA. and these are antithetical to the reality experienced in most public organisations in projects (becoming true POOs). but the choice needs to be 7th step: Developing a project learning organisation supported by other requirements in order to deliver Finally it is very important to note that what is successful projects. routines and databases of Based on the mapping exercise. role descriptions. Bolles. .T.Downloaded By: [UNISA University of South Africa] At: 08:07 3 October 2007 Project management competence 65 on the fact that all WOB and KProg stakeholders WOB—that is the organisation’s ability to gather (internal and external) were considered to have equal knowledge and experience and store them in a weight in terms of understanding the two entities and ‘collective mind’. recipes. On the PM maturity 1st step: Developing senior management support levels (Table 2) and respective scores shown in Table 7. One aspect which is evident still be just below the surface for many public sector from the study is the absence of a ‘collective brain’ in organisational generations. Hence sustained leadership is imperative. But being able to function as a POO that WOB doesn’t seem to have formal project and fulfil the department/ministry’s mandate and move management processes in place and the ability to make smoothly to higher levels of the PM maturity ladder predictions and commitments relative to its services. 2004). Under these circumstances. excellence’.g. and project knowledge. or service providers. 2nd step: Developing a structure for independent WOB seems to be dominated by competence level 1 input characteristics. the old ways will industrialised countries. where individual strong indications to suggest that the changes necessary and team learning have to be organised. they need to fully non-industrialised countries. G.M. With the POO are found elsewhere (e. the lesson to be learnt from this study is that organising around Conclusions programmes and projects (as a project-oriented orga- nisation—POO) is an appropriate way of fulfilling their The results of this study described above and mapping mandate under conditions of high staff turnover and summary in Table 7 provide a strong indication to show limited budgets. For WOB and other infrastructure departments/ ministries in non-industrialised countries. requires the creation of an environment for successful There are strong indications to suggest based on the projects or ‘building project management centre of department’s premiere programme (KProg) manage. Table 7 Mapping of results in PM maturity levels Competence level Total points scored References 55Optimised +2 & 298 45Managed +4 & 296 Allison. University of 15Initial +80 & 220 Chicago Press. Little Brown. are strong indications to suggest that any possi. While the details in terms of the required ment that WOB does not possess sufficient skills and methodologies.

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