Project management potential

The Middle East is seeing more and more uptake of project management discipline and tools to improve the delivery of IT projects. However, there is still a long way to go before the approach to project management reaches maturity in the region

Tags: CA IncorporationCognizant Technology SolutionsEmirates Flight Catering CompanyGulf AirNasma Telecommunications ( management
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Project management potential Larger organisations in the region are adopting a variety of more structured approaches to project management
By  Keri Allan Published  November 25, 2014

In the last few years the Middle East has seen a growing number of enterprises give more importance to dedicated project management, especially in regards to large scale IT projects. However, adoption varies wildly across the region, depending on the market’s maturity and its international exposure.

There has been a move towards more methodical and managed delivery of projects, but as Finesse’s Strategic Advisor Shekhar Thodla highlights, there’s definitely still room for improvement.

“Most organisations have come a long way in applying good management principles and methodologies for projects, particularly IT projects. However, there is still a way to go in some areas. Many a time, full-time management resources are not deployed due to source scarcity and that has an impact on the project success rates. Also, despite qualified professionals managing projects, one can easily see slippages in the application of best-in-class standards. It is difficult to pinpoint causes for the laxity, but they do exist across the spectrum of projects.”

According to vendors, analysts, IT managers and project management professionals themselves, there is a belief that a large percentage of projects fail — perhaps not in the sense of total failures leading to the scrapping of a project, but in regards to quality, time or cost expectations, and that good management methodologies could improve the situation.

“Based on an independent study, only 32% of projects finish as authorised from the perspective of either time, budget or quality,” notes Petr Behavka, Business Lead, IT Business Management, EMEA Emerging Markets, CA Technologies.

“What is even more surprising, the bigger the project is, the most likely it will not be delivered as authorised,” he continues. “Actually, 80% of major projects are delayed or exceed budget or the use of manpower effort. That is a shocking number — and yet a daily reality.

“Decreasing the failure rate frees up labour and budgetary resources so that more projects can be delivered in a given year and proper understanding of methodologies and their practical implementation provides great many benefits. Good project management can enable organisations to deliver more projects, usually by 20%, with the same manpower and budget.”

As mentioned before, although the region may not be as advanced as elsewhere, more of the Middle East’s larger organisations are embracing project management and are doing it well. Methodologies used depend on the size and type of each project.

In some cases traditional waterfall project management is used, but at other times project management professionals prefer to use agile solutions in order to meet the businesses’ changing requirements. This is the case at Meraas, and also at Emirates Flight Catering.

“The most frequently used project methodology here is waterfall, which is more structured and tighter in terms of its scope and timeline. It is basically a sequential top down approach where we as project managers try to eliminate risks by outlining requirements, steps and schedules upfront at the starting line of the project,” says Syed Adeel Ahmed, IT Business Controller (HR&P), Emirates Flight Catering.

“Recently we adopted Oracle’s unified methodology in one of our Oracle cloud based implementations. This methodology in my opinion is a hybrid between waterfall and agile where we used the structured approach of the waterfall and flexibility of agile methodology. Unlike the traditional waterfall approach where the requirement is locked at the initial stages of the project, the cloud model on the other hand had the flexibility of the changes even at the advance stages of the project.”

Gulf Air uses a customised tailored project management methodology derived from PMP and the concepts of Prince2.

“A tailored methodology is crucial for Gulf Air IT to cater for the unique environment of the airline and the different natures of IT projects,” explains Dr Jassim Haji, Director Information Technology, Gulf Air. “To illustrate, for in-house software development projects, the approach of agile development, which encompasses iterative and incremental development, has been embedded in the framework of the project management methodology. On the other hand, for projects that implement third-party solutions, the methodology has additional focus and emphasis on customisation and the impact of this third-party solution on the existing business processes.

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