Blog – CIO East Africa Business | Technology | Leadership
6 Common Project Management Mistakes – And How To Avoid Them
by Moira Alexander on July 28, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Few projects complete seamlessly, as many issues can arise along a project’s journey from ideation to sign-off. Dealing with problems calmly and efficiently is a vital aspect of the project manager’s role, and some of the challenges you will face as a project manager can be handled relatively quickly on the fly. Others, however, will have a more significant impact on the success of your project. Following are six common project management mistakes that plague project success, along with risk management strategies and advice for heading them off before they derail your project’s progress. 1. Every project your company launches must tie back to companywide goals When valuable time and resources are used to execute projects that do not align with your company’s vision, more critical projects are placed at risk — and ultimately so too is the long-term success of your business. To ensure this does not happen, each project should have a solid, approved business case that spells out precisely how it aligns with the goals set by your company’s executives. Each project goal must be documented to ensure the project is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to companywide goals, and timely (aka S.M.A.R.T). Identify all the goals and document them in the project charter to help create clarity about the project’s purpose and stick to its purpose by revisiting the charter and aligning team efforts around it. 2. No project sponsorship Just as project teams and stakeholders rely on project managers for support and guidance, project managers also rely on project sponsors for the same. A project sponsor is typically a member of the executive team, and this person champions the project, provides insight, and helps project managers resolve conflicts when escalation is necessary. Sponsors also set the tone for the project to influence buy-in throughout your company. Most stakeholders do not readily accept change. Without a sponsor to help pave the way, project managers can be left to flounder with executives, cross-functional teams, clients and end-users. Every project should have a sponsor who initiates conversations with other executives and team leaders about why a project should go ahead. They should also convey the benefits, who will be assigned to lead the project, and request that cross-functional team leaders share information with their departments. 3. Poor capacity planning and resource management Before your company can allocate and manage project resources, it will need to plan for resource capacity. In the planning stage, this means determining the resources that may be required for a project and then identifying the pool of available resources. Jumping past this step can risk project success. Many companies leverage different tools to run what-if scenario planning during the planning phase and resource management phase as a risk-management tool to test the impact of assigning, managing, and shifting project timelines and resources. What-if scenario planning offers many benefits. It helps your company identify resource options in real-time, balance workloads, and optimize the use of all resources to ensure team members and stakeholders are not being overallocated. It also ensures task or project start and end dates will not be negatively impacted. 4. Misaligned methodologies Project management methodologies provide project teams with a set of standards to follow while managing individual projects. Choosing the right methodology to execute your project is the key to ensuring fast and accurate delivery on the project’s premise. Executing projects without an effective methodology or aligning your project and team expertise with the wrong methodology is likely to increase the risk of failure. There are many methodologies to choose from — each of which serves a different but sometimes overlapping purpose. Project management methodologies guide how your team meets its goals. Some well-adopted methodologies are meant to reduce product defects; others ensure your processes are effective; while others are for faster delivery of products or services. Your team capabilities must be well-matched with the methodologies chosen. 5. Communication breakdowns An estimated 20 per cent of projects fail due to ineffective communication. Many factors contribute to poor communication and breakdowns — in day-to-day and project work. Communication styles or methods, existing tensions, conflicting goals, untimely communication, and miscommunication, among other issues, have the potential to create significant problems for your project. Considering communication makes up the single most crucial aspect of effective project management, developing effective communication strategies is critical to achieving your project objectives. Knowing your audience is key to developing the right communication strategy. Communication should be timely, frequent, clear, and transparent. It is equally important to be inclusive and respectful. Another thing project managers need to focus on is ensuring communication remains consistent throughout projects. This can help projects progress more smoothly. 6. Not having the right software and tools It is virtually impossible to successfully meet project goals without some form of project management software or tools. Without tools to plan, execute, and monitor projects, your project manager is unlikely to be successful in his or her role. With so many moving pieces, project management within even the smallest of companies and the smallest of projects can be daunting. Larger projects that have multiple tasks, goals, and resources simply could not be effectively or efficiently managed. Before contemplating which projects to tackle, identify, and evaluate the right project management solution that will help your teams manage tasks, resources, schedule of work, and collaboration. Moira Alexander is the author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership” and Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group. She’s also a project management and digital workplace freelance columnist for various publications and a former contributor to Price of Business Talk Radio and USA Business Radio. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the U.S. and Canada. The post 6 Common Project Management Mistakes – And How To Avoid Them appeared first on CIO East Africa.
Navigating Business Now Requires Bold Vision And Collaboration
by Mohammed Amin, Sr. Vice-President – MERAT, Dell Technologies on July 27, 2020 at 12:39 pm
As countries around the world start to think about what work looks like post-pandemic, we look at what this means for businesses. While every industry and business is different, several commonalities present themselves to organisations of all sizes. The question to ask is, what are some of the significant opportunities and shifts that will dominate the business landscape post-pandemic and can organisations rise to take advantage of these evolving market dynamics? 1. The time to reinvent and innovate is now In these technology-defined days, it is easy to consider innovation as only related to technology. A common misnomer is that innovation must be undertaken only when there are significant and disruptive trends that affect the success of an organisation’s ability to stay relevant. Reinvention of processes and effectively anything that improves upon a previously-accepted way of doing something are also innovation. This is the time where a business can reinvent to better support customers, optimise for a digital future and become more agile in their operations. Change is always a big challenge, and more so, an organisations’ preparedness and readiness to transform. 2. Reskilling is key to long-term success The forward-looking and future-ready organisation is every stakeholder’s dream, and employees form a critical part of driving business success. Businesses must re-evaluate their workforce skills and invest in training that helps drive collaboration and develop cohesive ecosystems of technologies, services and products that are scalable and can connect with changing customer demands. Many people also believe that emerging technologies such as AI, the IoT, blockchain and more will replace jobs. However, new roles will appear that did not previously exist such has multi-cloud operators, data engineers, enterprise architects and infrastructure security specialists, to name a few. At least 133 million new roles may be generated globally by 2022 as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, according to the World Economic Forum. While individuals, must develop the required skills to keep pace with changing technology, organisations too must encourage this skills development internally and within academia, by providing the needed learning solutions. 3. Embracing emerging technologies and their potential cannot be ignored One of the many things that this pandemic has taught us is that transformation driven by technology, is happening at many different layers across the IT stack. As new technologies continue to emerge, such as predictive analytics, extended reality, various forms of AI and more, organisations need to be able to navigate disruptive digital environments to optimise their business for a digital future and minimise the risk of digital disruption by competitors. While we’ve worked and lived alongside machines for centuries, by 2030, these human-machine partnerships will become more profound, more productive and more immersive than ever before, helping us surpass our limitations. In research by Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future, respondents were unanimous in their organisation’s necessity to transform. However, many aren’t moving fast enough and going deep enough to operate as a successful digital business. The research showed that only 27% have ingrained digital in all they do, 57 per cent of businesses are struggling to keep up with the pace of change, and 93 per cent are battling some form of barrier to becoming a successful digital business in 2030 and beyond. With emerging technologies reshaping our lives and entire industries as we move toward 2030, business leaders must have a clear understanding of their existing technology environment while mapping it back to their overall business strategy. 4. Public-private sector partnerships will rise to the challenge Business leaders will work closely with federal and local governments to address evolving situations on how systems should change post the pandemic. This is especially critical concerning evolving regulatory policies that could impact the operational and financial success of a business. We’re already witnessing the birth of several initiatives. This is happening between the private and public sectors in industries such as healthcare with institutions providing free training to government healthcare workers or governments working with academic and technology companies. They do so to improve online education or financial institutions that have worked with local governments to announce financial relief measures – and more. By collaborating in new and improved ways, we are already bringing to fruition the next wave of human-led progress. 5. An organisation’s technology foundation will define their success and relevance In this new era, every business is a technology business, with digital ingrained in their DNA. It is imperative that organisations invest in a holistic and strategic approach to respond to the pace of disruption. This investment calls for the convergence of technologies, to connect, collaborate, and ultimately create new services and experiences that will eventually help weather disruption. Organisations need to take steps to modernise infrastructure, inspire employees and deploy the right technologies that will lay the groundwork for the digital future and the next wave of technology-led human progress. In this time of unprecedented change, there is a very real element of societal transformation that we can expect, with a more direct impact on how we live and work. But adapting to this new normal requires a collaborative effort which calls for unity between the C-suite, IT departments and government leaders. The question is: are we ready to be bold and take a long-term view, to drive progress for a healthy, economic future? The post Navigating Business Now Requires Bold Vision And Collaboration appeared first on CIO East Africa.
On-Site And Remote: The Best-Of-Both-Worlds
by Andrew Bourne on July 20, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Companies around the globe have had to adopt remote working in a short minute. Some have thrived and will clearly not revert to the office model, with the likes of Twitter, Quora, and Slack all indicating that they will either be fully remote or remote-first for the foreseeable future. Others, however, have struggled with the transition and are hankering to get their teams back into the office. The ideal solution is probably somewhere in between with employees able to work remotely when it works and returning to the office as needed. Here’s how businesses can take a best-of-both-worlds approach to their operations: Assessment of needs It’s essential first to weigh the real benefits of a fully-staffed workplace. This helps decide what functions need to return on-site and which ones can continue being remote. Bearing in mind that due to comfort zones and habits, staff may feel the task needs to be on-site when, in fact, it may be more cost-effective or more efficient to do so remotely. For instance, if your teams collaborated well and were far more creative in the office, office space is worth the investment. Similarly, employees may feel more comfortable approaching management face-to-face than over email or video call. There is also the issue of mental health. Remote work is not suitable for everyone, and some people may need human interaction to enable them to cope with being stuck at home. It may not be a daily interaction; it may just be a staff social event once a month. Each circumstance or function should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to make the best decision for the future of the business. “For instance, if your teams collaborated well and were far more creative in the office, office space is worth the investment. Similarly, employees may feel more comfortable approaching management face-to-face than over email or video call.” How to use technology Having a blended workforce that adds a significant amount of remote workers to the mix can make striking a balance a little more complicated. Fortunately, virtual networking technologies can help here. A virtual meeting, for instance, allows both on-site and remote workers to hold brainstorming sessions and meetings without losing any of the benefits of being in physical proximity to each other. When it comes to collaboration, a cloud-based office suite can enable seamless communications and teamwork, facilitating the faster accomplishment of projects. That can be massively beneficial for both remote and on-site workers. Technology can also help with another oft-cited headache when it comes to balancing remote and on-site work: project management. “An excellent project management tool will help you manage budgets, timelines, resources, communication, and quality with a calendar, Gantt chart, time tracking, and group chat type functionality.” An excellent project management tool will help you manage budgets, timelines, resources, communication, and quality with a calendar, Gantt chart, time tracking, and group chat type functionality. If you can find one with automation capabilities, you’ll also save time on routine tasks. Meanwhile, a visual workflow builder with a simple drag-and-drop interface is useful for making automation easier. Remote or not, these types of technologies can streamline your day-to-day operations with meaningful enhancements like task list templates and routine task automation. It won’t just make things more comfortable if you’re ever forced into a scenario where you have to take your operations remote for a period, it’ll also help improve overall productivity. Making the most of the ‘new normal’ In truth, most businesses have been heading towards, at the very least, a hybrid model where some employees are remote, and others work on-site. But this needn’t be problematic. Both offer distinct advantages, according to the function or individual task being fulfilled. With the right approach and technologies, it’s possible to leverage the benefits of both without falling prey to any of the disadvantages traditionally associated with them. By Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa, Zoho The post On-Site And Remote: The Best-Of-Both-Worlds appeared first on CIO East Africa.
RegTech – Optimizing Citizens’ Returns From Africa’s Telecom Sector
by Angela Collings on July 19, 2020 at 10:13 am
Deloitte, one of the world’s leading professional services and risk consulting firms, advising 80% of the Fortune Global 500 companies, recently published its 2020 edition of RegTech Universe. The firm believes that “RegTech promises to disrupt the regulatory landscape by providing technologically advanced solutions to the ever-increasing demands of compliance within the financial industry.” While the analysis focuses on the role of Regulation Technology (RegTech) in monitoring transaction compliance globally, it is crucial that we also look at RegTech from an African context. In Africa, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are market-makers, their dominance and contribution to economic growth in the countries they operate are substantial, making the telecom sector an important one that governments in Africa must nurture and grow. To do this, regulatory oversight and compliance are critical. The sector should be viewed in much the same way as the banking sector: encouraged to operate innovatively but within a well-defined and enforced framework of regulatory compliance. According to Deloitte, the telecom sector is a significant contributor to the economies and national treasuries of governments in emerging markets. Notably in Africa, given the propensity for the community, and therefore communications within and across communities, as families and friends have become more geographically distributed, the need to communicate electronically has become all the more important. GSMA who represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, in its 2019 Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa analysis, reported a GDP contribution for 2018 of 8.6% from the telecom sector and forecasted this to grow to 9.1% by 2023. MNO’s saw their revenues grow from US $35 billion in 2013 to US $45 billion in 2019 (2017 and 2019 GSMA Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa reports). These companies are the financial beneficiaries of our human need to stay in contact, whether for business or socially. While MNOs have introduced infrastructure to enable higher-quality communications, one must question whether the profits generated by these international companies adequately benefit the countries, and ultimately the citizens, in which they operate. In an age of rapidly advancing technologies, another question arises about whether governments are sufficiently armed with best-practice regulatory monitoring systems to enforce compliance within the telecom sector. In many instances, governments rely on a self-declaratory system to oversee the sector. This means it has limited oversight and is at the mercy of MNOs, hoping that they will provide accurate, fair, and complete declarations regarding the revenues and profits generated. The only way to introduce fairness, accuracy, and completeness into the MNO ecosystem, is by empowering governments with technologies that can remain current in a dynamic sector. In addition to employing expert auditors from the likes of Deloitte, KPMG, and EY, governments also need independent telecom sector experts that have the capabilities to monitor the business and technology practices of MNOs objectively. The RegTech analysis by Deloitte offers insights into the companies providing such compliance solutions, such as Arkk Solutions, KROLL, Jumio, and BNYMellon-Pershing. Notably on Deloitte’s list for its contribution to regulatory compliance and transaction monitoring in Africa is Global Voice Group (GVG). In compiling its analysis, Deloitte acknowledged GVG for its open and transparent cooperation, as it provided more business and operational information than many of the other companies in the RegTech space. Since 1998, GVG has provided independent telco monitoring technologies to countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and the Central African Republic. The company’s RegTech systems have not only generated billions of dollars in additional revenues for these governments but have also prevented significant revenue losses through the control of telecoms fraud. Africa’s telecom sector plays a critical role in fostering improved communication services as well as being a significant economic contributor. It is incumbent upon governments to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the sector while balancing this relationship with a need for regulatory compliance and revenue assurance. The post RegTech – Optimizing Citizens’ Returns From Africa’s Telecom Sector appeared first on CIO East Africa.
Something We Cannot See Is Holding 5G Back in Africa
by Adam Lane on July 15, 2020 at 8:31 pm
There is an intangible resource that most people do not know exists and cannot be seen or touched. That resource is holding Africa back from rolling out high-speed 5G mobile services. If we don’t solve managing this resource better, then we won’t get 5G in Africa, and we’ll be left behind. Spectrum is of critical importance in Africa. Not necessarily because Africans need high-speed mobile phone services, nor because they are likely to have tens of thousands packed into stadiums or highly dense areas (especially this year). And it’s not because self-driving cars will be populating the continent’s roads any time soon. It is of critical importance because so few homes and businesses have fibre in Africa. However, through Fixed Wireless Access (FWA/WTTx) solutions, 5G can provide fibre-like services without requiring the expense or time needed to install fibre. Upgrading existing base stations and deploying a CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) like a mobile router or dongle inside or outside an office or home instantly yields the fibre-like speeds that are critical for e-commerce and online learning. And now more than ever, it is clear how important both are. Spectrum 101 Most people may think of spectrum as a range of colours in a rainbow, or a range on which political opinions belong. But it also refers to the range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. Even though these are generally invisible to the human eye, spectrum matters for communications, whether it is radio, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, or satellite broadcasts — all use electromagnetic waves to travel and reach a user. The Role of Governments The use of these intangible wavelengths are regulated by governments to prevent multiple users using the same frequencies of spectrum, as this would cause interference, and nothing would reach the user. At a global level, the UN oversees a process for all countries to agree on the kind of users for different frequencies (such as for Wi-Fi, mobile phones, or meteorological use). At the national level, the government decides which specific organisations or companies can use that spectrum. National governments often charge a fee to commercial companies for using this — one purpose is to recoup the costs for managing, monitoring, and enforcing the regulation of spectrum. Another is to generate revenue for the government. And a third (and arguably the most important) is to weed out those who may not be serious about using the spectrum. In other words, they want companies that have the resources to invest in the infrastructure to use it. So the thinking goes that if serious players can afford the spectrum, they can also afford to pay for the infrastructure. “Companies, whether big or small, existing or new, must be given access to that spectrum. And there must be enough to go around, providing it is only given to companies that are serious about using it and are seriously able to make the necessary investments.” Regulators want to support existing actors with solid track records to deliver infrastructure, but they don’t want to restrict new entrants to the market or innovation. So, they face striking a balance — to allow new companies to come in even if they do not have much in the way of resources yet, but are serious and could still make good use of the infrastructure in the future. There is also pressure from the treasury to generate as much money as possible. This may come from the wealthiest companies, but could, in turn, affect these companies’ finances, so they cannot subsequently invest in building networks. For high-speeds, it is necessary to have large amounts of spectrum in a big block. But right now, few companies in Africa have that, which means no company can provide it. Lots of companies each have small amounts of spectrum so that none can provide a high-speed network to lots of people. It is critical that these changes — and urgently. Companies, whether big or small, existing or new, must be given access to that spectrum. And there must be enough to go around, providing it is only given to companies that are serious about using it and are seriously able to make the necessary investments. During COVID-19, South Africa has temporarily made spectrum available to its operators. This has resulted in two new operators launching 5G (one launched last year with the spectrum it already had). With the affordability of Internet data creating such a critical challenge in Africa, the prices local operators are charging for 5G are telling: Comparing 5G with 4G, one operator will give you ten times more data for only four times the price, or 40 times more data for only six times the price. Another provides unlimited data and charges by speed instead, just like a traditional fibre service, even though they are using mobile. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya have strong technology sectors, innovative local companies, a significant presence from international companies, and a strong focus on creating jobs involving technology. They need to move faster with 5G to ensure future development. Future businesses in the technology industry and the profits, social impact, and jobs that come with that, rely on having high-speed Internet for consumers through FWA. Millions of Africans could use that connectivity to get trained online, get jobs online, earn money online, and create tech businesses. And now is the time to make that happen. The post Something We Cannot See Is Holding 5G Back in Africa appeared first on CIO East Africa.