Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Project management in Nigeria..

OK - a rare Jeremy-in-day-job-mode posting:

Managing a large project or programme of projects in Nigeria is an excellent challenge, especially if your client is public sector. I have learnt more than books can tell on how to make things work and what to avoid, and most importantly how to analyse and deal with risk. I even have the grey hairs to prove it.

As my EU Information Systems project comes to a close and I decide which opportunity to take on next, I'm thinking about how to record some of my learnings for others, at the same time as revising hard for my upcoming Prince 2 exams and gemming up on various change management methodologies (Kotter seems to fit with P2 quite nicely). The idea of finding a progressive MBA course focusing on developing economies flickered through my mind a few days ago..

The core issue is of course leadership. As a whole, the Federal Government is not providing any solid direction-setting in terms of technology-driven transformation. That said, there are pockets of progressive elements hidden here and there, as well as a fair smattering of cowboy briefcase consultants on the make who continue to provide poor value for end users. El-Rufai is on the ball, as is Soludo, as are the people at Debt Management Office and the inner circle at the Budget Office. Other MDAs (Ministries, Departments, Agencies) are still only just leaving the typewriter-jurassic period behind.. A lot of dots need to joined together to create a picture that makes sense.

I've learnt about how to garner peer-to-peer lock-in type group dynamics, but locking in the middle layer doesnt amount to much when the upper layers of management remain unresolved. At present, there is a shocking amount of duplication of tech projects in the public sector, and precious little coordination, integration, or following of any technology master plan. In other words, a lot of good intentions and donor money is being wasted. The dream would be to align economic & civil service reform with an enabling technology strategy which focused solidly for the next two or three years on infrastructure.

The general drift is however one of continuous improvement. This year's budget is solidly based on a sectoral development strategy - the first time this has happened. Bode Agusto has done some excellent work as DG of the Budget Office in the past couple of years. Its a pity that he is steadfast on returning to the private sector come next May.


Shango,  10:47 pm  

Managing a public sector project in Nigeria is more than an excellent challenge, it's a derring-do rodeo on the back of a one ton bull. Good on ye for doing it, I couldn't.

I would suspect that an MBA focused on developing economies would be interesting at best and would need to focus on teaching proper bribery techniques the first few months. Seriously though, just how does one manage in such a "non-standard" atmosphere?

One of these days, you must put together a memoir of your days managing and directing and overseeing in Nigeria. You can create a blog called

culturalmiscellany 7:03 am  

Good luck with the PRINCE2 exmas, they're not easy but have been invaluable in my career to date. Good project or more accurately programme management is a passion of mine. I started my programme management experience in the Public Sector implementing Congestion Charging and then, far more interestingly setting up a new division from scratch. I'm now trying to use my learns from that to set up a new division in a commercial setting. Its fascinating and deeply challenging.

I have made the presumption that there are no specialist Programme Management organisations in Nigeria but if you know of any I'd love to know.

If you are ever in London and want to chat with some top-class Programme Managers working in the Public Sector in the UK (yes I know its easier but some have worked in developing countries before as they're ex-colleagues of mine) check out one of the breakfast meetings of these guys:

Jeremy 8:07 am  

thanks CM I will check out. There are a few pm outfits in Nigeria. The strongest I've come across is MediaBloc - which offers training on Prince2 and PMI as well as the Insights corporate development techniques. The MD Deji is a friend. They do a lot of business in the energy sector:

culturalmiscellany 10:10 am  

Yes, I'd imagine they'd do alot of work for the energy companies. How about the telecoms sector? I personally rate PMI over PRINCE2 as the later can be overly bureaucratic but it fits the public sector perfectly. Companies such as the one in which I work try and use PRINCE2 in industry but its too cumbersome and clunky however PMI consultants/contractors are normally more expensive so I can see why they support the PRINCE2 methodology. If you've not done PMI its a useful second level to PRINCE2. BTW - If you're revising for the PRINCE2 practitioner exam don't worry too much about remembering all the processes, that exam focuses on applying ones commonsense inside the framework of PRINCE2 and so your 'learns' from you day job will be far more valuable to you than the textbook.

Maybe I should investigate MediaBloc further. If I have any questions can I drop you a mail?

Akin 12:45 pm  

I did a project module on my Masters programme based on the PMI PM Body of Knowledge, whilst it exposed me to the detail of managing and completing projects, the one big lesson I took away from the module was, I did not want to be a project manager.

However, my knowledge is useful in making PMs understand what my contributions to a project would be, before I am squeezed "accordion-style" into some impossible timescale running on a shoe-string budget, with minimal resources leading to a "perfect" solution.

Jeremy 1:14 pm  

I should say, PMI has a Nigeria chapter:

Quite a few corporate-size organisations are realising the importance of project management and developing competency. If only the public sector would realise this too..

culturalmiscellany 2:31 pm  

J, on that score the UK Public Sector is doing quite well. They have a massive body of project and programme managers that switch between divisions and projects and a proper training programme. This is vital as it stops them relying on consultants to deliver their big programmes and pouring all their money into consultancy. Excellent but VERY LONG OVERDUE!!! I hope Nigeria twigs quickly albeit it may put you out of work.

plastiQ 11:08 am  

Thank u so much for this post and thank God that you are a Naija blogger. Ha (sigh of relief). I was doing a search on taking the Prince 2 exams but I was bothered about its relevance. Here, in Naija...we are so bogged about certifications at paper value. I wanted to be sure it would add real value to my professional life. And that link to mediabloc is a blessing. Thank you once again.

Lizzy 12:22 am  

Thanks for this blog, I am doing a research on project management in Nigeria in telecommunication companies. I will really like all the help i can get.

I want to know more about management of time, people, resources and planning.

roland 5:58 pm  

It's good and refreshing to learn that Prince2 certification is becoming relevant in Nigeria. Though it started off in the UK, it is quickly becoming a globally recognised form of project management certfication. I am a Nigerian in diaspora and ferverently looking for job opportunitities in Nigeria for project managers..can anyone point me in the right direction here?

Anonymous,  4:32 pm  

Project Management is crucial for successful execution of projects. I think the issue with organisations is that they are not aware of the best practices.

I would recommend : they do a lot of projects in Nigeria.

Nonso,  11:16 am  

Good medium, I guess as am presently researching the application of value management in the Nigerian construction industry. Sequel to this, I humbly request those who are willing to partake in this survey to please contact me via the email address below: [email protected]

Nathaniel @ project manager training 2:00 pm  

Experience is a really good teacher. Based on what you have experience in Nigeria, it is quite challenging.

Thanks for sharing what you have learned with your readers. Keep it up!

chichibaby,  4:03 am  

Pm in Nigeria is still in its early stages and as everything else being implemented or adopted here; people most often fail using best practice, the right tools, techniques and methods. Change is inevitable. Pm can only function when the factors mentioned above are utilized.

EMEKA 4:03 am  

Thanks so much for this post. Am a prospective project manager in Prince 2. I just completed my foundation exams and prior to this I had done a little research on its value in Nigeria. But seeing the wealth of experience you all possess in project management in Nigeria and abroad, I'll love to get your views on the most valuable and relevant method here in Nigeria between Prince 2 and PMP

yomi 6:41 pm  

Prince 2, APMP etc are all methodology certification. The first thing you learn is that one size doesn't fit all, it is just showing you have an understanding of a structured project management system. Certification does not make you a project manager, any experienced PM will tell you that. Good common sense and judgement makes you a good PM to go with leadership skills, develop that and you're on your way.

lola,  11:47 pm  

I had the prince2 certification but had to get a PMP at the end of the day because I met employers who were asking for a PMP rather than a prince2.

I have also met a few people who had that challenge.

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