Thursday, August 10, 2017

This is why big projects fail all the time

 

By Paul Owere @TheCitizenTz news@thecitizen.co.tz

There are several projects that seem to have stalled and usually the quick assumption is that that the owners could have run out of cash.

Most hit in this category are the multinational organisations and government institutions that lose millions of dollars due to poor execution of tasks.

Contrary to that, those in the know say this ought not to be the case and it comes down to poor planning which makes execution of such projects a failure due to lack of qualified project managers at the helm of these projects.

It therefore comes as a little wonder that the US government passed a law in 2016 that will help improve project management in running Federal programs where over $150m was being lost for every $1billion spent annually.

Bwali Barnabas Ndyanabo is a C-Level international project management executive with over 16 years of experience, executing large-scale multimillion-dollar projects within telecommunications industry.

“I always loved being part of things that are meaningful and leave lasting impressions on people and organizations that I work with,” he says.

Speaking to Success, on his role he said, it is this desire and drive that led him to fall in love with project management after he realized that for most organizations and Governments Projects were run as routine operations and there was a massive skill gap in managing their Projects.

Project management, according to him, is one of the grey areas that are not viewed as a discipline that is critical to their performance and ultimately playing a crucial role in their success and service provision.

“On many occasions it is considered an administrative or technical specialty concerned with implementation rather than an integral part of accomplishing the organization’s strategies,” he says.

Ndyanabo who is a qualified telecom engineer has hugely specialized in delivering projects on time, budget, and quality requirements, with expertise in network evolution strategies and modernization initiatives for global companies.

His work in this industry has seen him work with in different capacities at Nokia networks Tanzania, also taking on tasks to modernize Vodacom Tanzania network, Tigo network and Build the Warid Telecom in Uganda from scratch.

At all these companies he has carried the Project Management portfolio as either Head of Project Management or Project Director like at his current station at Airtel Tanzania where he is the Project Director.

“When I first came to Tanzania in 2011 on one of the projects with Nokia Networks for the National Modernization of Vodacom Network, Tanzania as a country had only 15 PMP certified Project managers,” he says.

Thanks to his efforts with constant mentoring, this has since changed and there seems to be a silver lining in what was once a very dark cloud.

“I have managed to mentor over 10 people who have gone on to attain internationally sought after Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by Project Management Institute in the US therefore raising the numbers of qualified Project managers in Tanzania from 15 in 2011 to 47 in 2017 and hence attaining a PMI Chapter status,” he says.

His years in this trade has also seen him Provide project Management training for over 50 Directors and executives from top ranking companies in Tanzania who are interested in improving their skills and project delivery within their organisations.

But even with this achievement he believes it is one of those areas that is still very grey and will continue to be that way until radical steps are taken in the way projects are run.

His trade has taken him places plus earning him a slot on the East AfricaCom advisory board where he offers insight on regional specifics as an informed authority in the industry.

“I have been on the board since 2016 and we usually have a two-day conference in where as part of it I have to help in the event development for core conference themes and speaker selection process,” says Ndyanabo

At these conferences the panelists address diverse issues in the Telecom and Technology world with specific regard on how they can bring the world closer through telecom and technology within the East African countries.

“In the last conference some of the issues I discussed with my fellow Panelists included strategies for connecting the unconnected, digital transformation challenge to lead businesses, bringing much needed broadband capacity from the coast to inland regions of East Africa and enhancing fiber systems to meet traffic demand in Africa,” he says.

As a telecom engineer whose feet have traversed the African continent and beyond with major projects in Egypt, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa, DRC and Tanzania he sees the future of telecom heading toward data as opposed to the traditional calls.

“The telecom world is changing quite fast, we are moving away from the voice to a lot of data usage but more interestingly even with the data we are graduating from just the use of social media and internet browsing and instead telecom companies are becoming more of innovators providing more services that are beyond the normal voice calls,” he says.

 

How did it begin?

According to Barnabas this was something that started off as a passion as a young boy despite having been born in rural Uganda where he first got to see an electric bulb at the age of 13.

“There was always that engineering boy in me, one who wanted to fix things that were sometimes beyond his grasp and that is how I ended up pursuing engineering,” he says.

He believes that for one to be successful at a certain career they have to love what you do and not otherwise.

“You must have a passion because this will always guide you even when times are hard, harness it, find the opportunity that will make you a better person,” he advises young people. There have been challenges too and to him some of these have only helped him grow as both a person and a professional.

“In 2008 I had this assignment where I was supposed to build a company from the scratch in Ivory Coast for the Warid Telecom Group and language was such a huge barrier given that Ivory Coast is French speaking and I am from Uganda and English speaking country. But at the end of the it was a success because a company was born,” he says

Barnabas who draws his inspiration from philanthropist Ibrahim Mo today sees himself as a brand because people rely on him to make sure their investments do not go to waste. He says the telecom revolution is one of the best things to have ever happened in Africa because it has expedited the growth of Africa’s economy tremendously.

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