1. CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1. OVERVIEW OF NIGERIA
With a population of over 120 million people, Nigeria represents a very viable business opportunity for investment into the telecommunication market. The market potential is huge with free entry for new investors in virtually all the undertakings of the sector. Moreover, business risks and investment hurdles are minimal.
Currently, the telecommunications industry is enjoying a prime focus in Nigeria. Facilitated by a wide range of factors such as the deregulation policy, information technology, potential of the Nigerian market and worldwide trend of rapid development in telecommunications; the industry promises to be the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy (IBP, 2009).
1.2. MAJOR MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATION PROVIDERS IN NIGERIA
Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to emerge as the continent’s largest mobile market with more than 85 million subscribers (Minges, 2004). The provision of telecommunication services in Nigeria has been the preserve of public sector monopolies such as NITEL (Nigeria telecommunication). In recent times, the Nigerian government has licensed private telecommunication industries the permission to provide telecommunication services, which brought about tremendous economic growth in Nigeria. The major mobile service and solution providers dominating in Nigeria’s fast paced growing mobile market include Etisalat, Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Visafone Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria Limited (IBP, 2009).
1.2.1. ETISALAT NIGERIA
Etisalat has been leading in telecommunication services in the United Arab Emirates since 1976, and has established itself as an innovative and reliable mobile service operator (Ndukwe, 2008). It was the first telecom operator to introduce Mobile phone serves in the Middle East in the year 1982. Since then, Etisalat has established itself as a regional pioneer in various products and services including the MMS and 3G (Ndukwe, 2008).
This comprehensive telecommunication provider offers fixed-line voice and data services to Individuals, Internet Service providers, enterprises, content providers and mobile operators (Ndukwe, 2008). It offers a variety of hi-tech complimentary services to the telecommunication industry including voice and data transit, SIM card manufacturing, managerial and technical training, clearing house services, payment solutions, and land cable and submarine services (Ndukwe, 2008).
Etisalat Nigeria was duly incorporated under the laws of Nigerian government in partnership with Etisalat of the UAE and Mubadala development company (Ndukwe, 2008). In January 2007, this telecommunication provider acquired the Unified Access Licence including the mobile license and spectrum in the GSM 900 and 1800 MHZ bands (Ndukwe, 2008). Its full commercial operations in Nigeria began in October 2008.
Ever since, Etisalat has taken a leadership position of innovation and reliability among the international and regional operators and has built an up state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure in its many years of operations in Nigeria (IBP, 2009). Etisalat has invested heavily in the economy of Nigeria and its human resources. Since its inception in Nigeria, the telecommunication provider has developed various skills acquisition and development programs to enable its staff to offer outstanding services to the people of Nigeria. It has a market value of approximately 23 billion dollars and annual revenue of over 8.5 billion (IBP, 2009).
Currently, it is on the verge of being listed among the top operators in the world, with operations in more than 18 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Etisalat is widely known for its GSM products and serves an increasing subscriber base of over 110 million people in Africa, Asia and Middle East. Currently, this innovative provider has unique products and prepositions such as the Easy Net, Easy Starter, Easy life and Easy Cliq in the populous market of Nigeria (IBP, 2009).
Etisalat’s strength can be attributed to its core strategy of acknowledging and understanding its customers. Additionally, this telecom provider is committed to taking its place amongst leading corporate citizens in Nigeria by making a wide impact and sustainable social investments. Etisalat Nigeria believes that besides a solid platform of technological innovation, sustainable investment is vital for the growth and economic stability in Nigeria. The main vision of Etisalat Nigeria is to ensure a world in which technology extends people’s reach. This telecom service provider is able to realize its vision by actively developing advanced networks and nurturing the energy and dynamism needed to achieve this goal.
1.2.2. AIRTEL NIGERIA
The Airtel Company is a limited liability company that provides telecommunication services to the emerging mobile market in Nigeria. Its core areas are focused on GSM mobile phones, SAGEM Dect & Fax products, Electronic Airtime distribution, and Network management (Ndukwe, 2008). Besides its global brand, Airtel is among the top three GSM providers in Nigeria and has one of the highest and most profitable telecom markets in Africa. Airtel Nigeria similarly values its customers, which is evident in its vision of becoming globally admired for telecom services that delight the customers. The company is able to realize its vision by meeting the needs of the customers based on its knowledge and a deeper understanding of the ambitions of its customers.
1.2.3. MTN NIGERIA
MTN is the leading mobile telephony company in Africa. It obtained a digital mobile license in Nigeria in 2001 (Ndukwe & Ernest, 2004). This telecom service and business solution provider operates in 9 African countries and conducts its mobile operations through 3 business units namely: MTN international, MTN South Africa and Strategic Investments (Ndukwe & Ernest, 2004). Currently, the company serves 35 cities and more than 80 villages, communities and towns, as well as a number of highways in Nigeria.
Its microwave radio transmission, though under construction, spans over 3000 kilometers and traverses more than 120 towns and villages in Nigeria (Ndukwe & Ernest, 2004). Once complete, the network will significantly improve MTN call coverage and quality. MTN focuses on increasing its operations to more African countries, and this is being accomplished by forming strong alliances with the local operators. The group has also adopted a customer-focused strategy in its market operations to improve its customer services.
1.2.4. VISAFONE NIGERIA
This is the 4th largest mobile operator and Nokia pioneer in the mobile telecommunications (Tella, 2007). It is one of Nigeria’s CDMA operators and offers a wide variety of services and products including Visa Internet, Visa Chill, Visa Profit and Visa Call Hunting (Tella, 2007). Visafone successfully partnered with Nokia in 2009 to spur growth of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria. This partnership is expected to help Visafone extend its leadership in the CDMA subsector (IBP, 2009). The company continues to focus on its 3-pronged business model of increasing its network coverage; delivering world-class service and providing excellent voice clarity in its mobile operations.
1.2.5. GLOBACOM NIGERIA LIMITED
Globacom Nigeria, an indigenous and private limited liability company is one of the largest providers of mobile telecommunication services in Nigeria. According to Minges (2004), Globacom Nigeria was launched in Nigeria in 2003, with over 25 million mobile subscribers, with the ability to realize the dream of being Nigeria’s leading service provider.
It is the first sole company that built an $800 million high capacity fibre optic cable referred to as the GLO-1 (IBP, 2009). Gobacom Nigeria Ltd is also the first successful submarine cable to Nigeria from the United Kingdom and has the potential to significantly reduce the costs of telecommunication and provide excess bandwidth to several other countries connected to the cable (IBP, 2009).
Globacom Limited was established to provide efficient telecommunication services to all part of the federation and to also link Nigeria with other countries in the world, especially those that maintained strong economic and political relations with Nigeria (Minges, 2004). The introduction and establishment of Globacom Nigeria Limited in Nigeria has led to a phenomenal improvement in the service delivery and mobile subscription and ultimately the overall penetration of mobile telecommunication to the remote sectors of the country.
1.3. JUSTIFICATION FOR USING ETISALAT NIGERIA AS THE CASE STUDY IN THIS ANALYSIS
Etisalat Nigeria is currently the largest provider of telecommunication services in Middle East and Africa, serving an ever-increasing subscriber base of 110 million people across Africa, Middle East and Asia and with over 7 million subscribers in Nigeria (Meadon, 2011). The company intends to leverage its network infrastructure to allow mobile service providers to offer services to their clients. Recently the company acquired a 3G license to boosts its mobile broadband experience in Nigeria. With 3G, Etisalat is able to develop its data and mobile broadband portfolio and offer its customers even higher levels of service.
Additionally, in a renewed two year contract with Alcatel Lucent, the company recently outsourced its day to day operations and maintenance in order to focus on the core business issues such as increasing average revenue per user (ARPU) and ensuring increased network quality and affordability (Meadon, 2011). These changes present with it a unique opportunity for examining the importance of project management in the delivery of infrastructure projects in the company. In managing Etisalat Nigeria’s network infrastructure in the delivery of connectivity solutions to clients, the importance of project management cannot be sidelined.
1.4. RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
The telecommunication sector in Nigeria has experienced a major process of transformation in terms of its growth, market structure and technological content in the last decade due to the major policy reforms introduced by the government (Tella, 2007). It should be noted that the impetus of these changes is likely to continue and at a much faster pace. Such changes inform the imperative need for the rapid adoption of project management methodology in Nigeria as the telecommunication environments grow more complex and international.
Driven by unrelenting market and technological forces, the telecommunication sector of Nigeria has become one of the world’s most dynamic sectors (Noll & Roger, 2000). In response to the fast paced competitive business environment and the need to overcome persistent shortfalls in telecommunication investment and performance, mobile service providers and vendors have to stress on operational excellence where the procedures and processes support and boost the business decisions in the telecommunication sector.
Therefore, taking into account the above, the critical role played by project management in streamlining and enhancing business process and the overall efficiency of the mobile telecommunication sector in Nigeria cannot be sidelined. This dissertation thus seeks to examine the impact of project management in the mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria. In particular, how project management methods and techniques can be used by the mobile companies to optimize on their mobile infrastructure and increase their overall efficiency. The study further proposes a framework that is beneficially adaptable to Etisalat Nigeria.
1.5. SUMMARY OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT
In the modern world, project management began in the early 1960’s, yet its roots are in the latter years of the 19th century (Adams, 2003). The imperative need for project management was driven by the realization of the benefits of organizing work and the critical need to communicate and co-ordinate tasks across various departments and professions (Adams, 2003).
The core values of project management have allowed businesses in all sectors especially in the mobile telecommunication sector to considerably enhance their competitiveness (Stratopolous, 2005). The use project management has enabled mobile telecommunication companies to advance in productivity, value and customer service and hence comparable benefits have been noted. Many companies in the mobile telecommunication sector are able to attain considerable savings through optimizing their basic infrastructure by use of Project management.
The best thing about introducing Project management is that it usually calls for improvement in management methods and systems, and leveraging the capital invested in tools that the organizations already owns. Once Project management gives a workable plan to optimize on infrastructure projects, managers can then focus on individual business units to understand their business requirements and use Project management as the tool to align these needs (Stratopolous, 2005).
1.6. RESEARCH PURPOSE & OBJECTIVES:
The purpose of this research is twofold: firstly, to study the importance of project management in mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria, an in-depth case study of Etisalat Nigeria. Secondly, to examine to what extent have Etisalat Nigeria Limited utilized project management in their delivery of infrastructure projects. The primary goal is to examine and analyse project management within the context of the mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria. As a result, the following are the research objectives:
- Define project management and describe the various benefits to Etisalat Nigeria.
- Examine to what extent has project management been utilized in the delivery of mobile infrastructure projects in Etisalat Nigeria.
- To infer the correlation between Project management and organizational performance.
1.7. PLAN OF THE STUDY:
1.7.1. CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
This section gives a brief overview of Nigeria’s telecommunication industry and a precise description of the major players in Mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria. They include: Globacom Nigeria Limited, Airtel Nigeria, Visafone Nigeria, Tisalat and MTN Nigeria. The chapter also provides the justification for the selecting Etisalat Nigeria as the case study. A brief history on project management, its importance in the mobile telecommunication industry and the research purpose and objectives has also been described in this section.
1.7.2. CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
The chapter starts with an introduction to literature on project management within the mobile telecommunication industry. This section expatriates on existing literature by reviewing prior studies on project management in the mobile telecommunication industry. Aligning with review of early studies on project management, the section outlines a number of project management techniques which are central to all other constituents of actualization. They include the Critical Path Method (CPC), Grant Progress Chart (GPC), and Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).
Moreover, the chapter; examines the project management methodologies and their impact on effective project management within the mobile telecommunication sector, with reference to Etisalat Nigeria. Consequently, a summary of the major challenges facing the telecommunication industry in Nigeria and an example of project management of a typical telecommunication network has been described in this section. Finally, the chapter concludes by posing research questions with reference to Etisalat Nigeria.
1.7.3. CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This chapter of the report outlines the research methodology used in collecting the data including the research strategy adopted, justification for the particular research method employed, interviews, questionnaire development, data analysis, ethical considerations and a brief outline of the research limitations encountered during the study.
By way of broad overview, the collection of data was centered on the semi-structured interviewing of 3 project managers of Etisalat Nigeria and administration of 10 questionnaires tailored towards addressing the importance of project management in the delivery of infrastructure projects within the mobile telecommunication company. This section forms an important piece of this analysis as it describes the overall methodology used in gathering the relevant information necessary for the completion of this dissertation.
Further chapters would include the results chapter, wherein the results from the quantitative and qualitative interviews would be described and listed. The discussion chapter would seek to compare the findings from the quantitative and qualitative study to existing literature, in a bit to accomplish the research objectives. The conclusion chapter concludes.
2. CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
A huge paradigm shift occurs in trying times as mobile service providers and vendors in Nigeria begin to acknowledge the necessity of what project management incorporation can play in their businesses. Project management is noted through research that nearly 40% business managers assume that project management is capable of bringing dynamic changes in their operational capacity (Hatchuel, Masson & Weill, 2002). One of the most vital applications of project management in the mobile telecommunication sector is that project management enables efficient use of resources and this according to most managers is the one of the main reasons for operational excellence.
The phenomenal increase in the mobile telecommunication companies in Nigeria has generated a lot of research interest in the last decade. However, the bulk of research has focused on the growth and development sector. A vast majority of these studies examines the implementation of reforms and also addresses why government has opted for such reforms. Whilst these studies may be useful guides to policy makers, they are deficient as they fail to address the issues of project planning and management within the industry. Very few studies have explored on the importance of project management in the telecommunication sector, in particular, Nigeria’s telecommunication industry.
2.2. A REVIEW OF EXTANT LITERATURE
Current scientific literature identifies the importance of project portfolio management in evaluating, selecting and prioritizing projects in line with the corporate strategies. According to Schwalbe (2009) Project portfolio management can be defined as a way to which organizations can analyze and collectively manage in a coordinated way a group of projects. The primary goal is usually to find the best combination of projects to ensure attainment of the corporate strategies and goals. Project portfolio management provides organizations with a structured approach to selecting, evaluating and prioritizing of projects.
A review of existing studies on project management, especially, studies by Englund & Graham, (1999) and Gardiner (2005) show projects under implementation by most organizations having little or no apparent link to the corporate strategies and goals. Thus the selection of the right mix of projects for the portfolio is considered crucial in achieving the corporate strategy within limited capabilities and resources of the organizations.
Most of previous studies reveal that the right sets of projects for implementation of the corporate goals and strategies can be achieved through successful selection of the project portfolio. Additionally, existing literature show that there are several tools and techniques which guide organizations in the selection and management of projects. These studies have cited potential advantages and disadvantages for each tool and technique. Normally, organizations rarely apply one tool but rather a set of tools and techniques.
A study by Dye, Lowell & Pennypacker (2000) claimed that the importance of project management is widely recognized, but cited the lack of a clear and formal project selection and prioritization process as a hindrance to successful implementation of projects in the mobile telecommunication industry. Many researchers and practitioners have raised their concerns with regard to this issue, and went further to search and develop a selection framework integrated with tools and techniques. Our initial research and observation of the mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria indicate that the sector is also faced with this huge challenge of the lack of a project selection framework.
There is generally wide divergence of opinions with regard to what constitutes project management and project success. Project success can be viewed and classified from different perspectives. Shenhar et al (1997) measured project success in four dimensions: execution, completion of project, delivery and assessment after completion. Sadeh, Dvir & Shenhar (2000) defined project success as when a project meets the design goals, and benefits the company and the end user.
A study by Verma (1996) posits that teamwork, communication and leadership are the vital components of effective project management. Crawford (2002) described project success as a perception that project meets the technical performance specifications hence resulting in a high level of satisfaction with regard to the project outcomes. According to Crawford (2002), project success forms an essential component of the project management. It is a frequently debated topic within the telecommunication sector and there generally is a lack of agreement with regard to the criteria by which success is judged.
A study by Cleland (1986) suggests that project success is only meaningful if considered from two vantage points: firstly, the degree to which the project’s technical performance objective has been attained on time and within the budget, and secondly, the contribution of the project on the strategic mission of the organization.
According to the Project Management Institute (2004), project management involves the application of skills, knowledge, tools and techniques to the project activities in order to meet the requirements of the project. PMI went further to characterize high quality projects as those that ensure the delivery of the require product or service within the time frame, scope and within the budget.
Whereas a study by Tinnirello (1999) posited that project management comprises of the knowledge, tools and techniques for setting a realistic scope, controlling requirements, defining responsibilities, creating feasible schedules and managing expectations. Similarly, a study on project management by Kerzner (2001) described project success to be the completion of an activity to the satisfaction of the client within the budget and allocated time frame. Critiquing these definitions as focusing too strongly on the implementation process, Morris (2003) argued for an expanded definition that emphasizes on the broader business context and strategy as well as leadership management.
From the strategy perspective, Lehtonen & Dietrich (2005) suggested that the success of a project is ultimately judged through the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage. Nonetheless, it is difficult to achieve the right project portfolio in reality. Studies have identified the following problems in the selection of a project portfolio:
- Conflicting objectives
- Uncertainties associated with project parameters, costs and risks.
- Some projects are highly inter-dependent hence organizations cannot compare one project to another but rather comparison is drawn between a set of projects to another set.
It is thus challenging to identify the appropriate project which will contribute immensely in the successful implementation of the corporate strategy. Sharing the same view, Wheelwright & Clark (1992b) stated the importance of a right set of projects in the portfolio of a company. It is however extremely difficult to evaluate the rightness of project portfolio in contributing to the corporate strategy because strategies are dynamic and they change over time.
Turner & Muller (2010) studied the impact of project management leadership on the successful implementation of a project. The study identified the following key skills and competence necessary for the successful project management: flexibility, adaptability, confidence, aggressiveness, persuasiveness, forcefulness, verbal fluency, imagination, enthusiasm, willingness to devote most of his/her time, spontaneity and preference for significant initiative among others. They concluded that the management of persons drives success more than the technical issues.
Despite this finding, it is striking to note that there exists only a small body of research that examines project management leadership. On a study of project leadership, Cleland (1995) defined ‘project success’ as the success of a project due to effective project leadership. He further pointed out that research on leadership had been limited despite calls for more leadership research in the field of project management. The study concluded that leadership was the most critical project management resource. Huemann et al (2007) defined project management from the perspective of effective leadership as a social system focused on organizational behaviour, communication, human resource management and team building.
With regard to the above, it was observed that within the mobile telecommunication sector in Nigeria, project management is fragmented throughout various divisions in the business industry. This call for strong and staunch Project management leadership so that the investments made may have a considerable impact.
A study by Murray (2001) contributed immensely in this field. He described several factors contributing to the successful implementation of projects. They include:
- adequate project funding,
- level of commitment of senior management to the project,
- objective assessment of the ability and willingness of an organisation to stay within the project course,
- a carefully developed comprehensive project plan that incorporates sufficient time and flexibility to deal with unforeseen difficulties that may arise
- a candid and accurate reporting of the project status,
- development of appropriate contingency plans that may be employed when the project runs into problems,
- Lastly, a critical assessment of the risks inherent in the project, potential harm associated with such risks and the ability to manage them.
2.3. RISK MANAGEMENT
It is important to note that the telecommunication industry is subject to many risks and uncertainty. The process of commissioning a project to completion is complex, generally bespoke and entails time-consuming design. It thus requires a multitude of people with diverse skills and experience and also the co-ordination of a wide range of disparate, yet interrelated activities. Such complexity is further compounded by several uncontrollable external factors. The implications of not delivering a project within the time frame and according to the predetermined specifications can be disastrous to parties involved. Thus, risk management becomes critical for successful implementation of projects.
In this regard, Kerzner (2001) extensively explored on the concepts and application of risk management in the construction projects. He defined risk management as the reaffirmation of the existence of risk in order to ensure confinement of that particular risk within the existing location. One precept that needs to be recognized is the fact that all risks are rightfully owner’s unless assumed or transferred to another party. In order to transfer a risk, the receiving party ought to have both the competence and expertise to access the risk fairly.
In a study of project management in the telecommunication industry, Snowdon (1979) enumerated the salient qualities that must be possessed by a site agent. They include:
- Well-developed leadership skills
- A good working knowledge on the management principles and flexibility to new ideas
- Sufficient experience relating to broad based mobile telecommunication technology
- Ability to understand and evaluate different aspects of the problem
- Having a logical and systematic orderly approach to work
- Ability to communicate effectively
2.4. PROJECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Project management is central to all other constituents of the actualization apparatus. For any project, regardless of the type of project, it is expected that contractors follow certain project management techniques. These include the Critical Path Method (CPC), Grant Progress Chart (GPC), and Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). The Grant Progress Chart is useful in consideration projects as the constituent activities are normally broken down into manageable parts. The activities and events are scheduled within a time matrix that permits for relationships and comparisons to be worked out.
The CPM, on the other hand, involves the scheduling, systematic planning, and control of projects. In this regard, Ndiomu (1994), contended, that for the CPM to be useful in the implementation of projects in the mobile telecommunication sector; the nature of the project activities need to be specific having definite terminal points. Ndiomu (1994) argued that the activities ought to be identified in an orderly sequence right from the onset to completion of the project. This condition is particularly useful in fields introducing new products, engineering designs or fields setting up new corporate structures.
The use of the CPM is however subject to limitations. The method is often too complex to be updated and experts contend that, often, any network drawn up is superseded by changing circumstances. In addressing the deterministic dimension, analysts employ the Programme Evaluation and Review Technique, which is stochastic. The main difference between PERT and the CPM is in the procedure for determining the activities duration.
The PERT technique uses the following formula:
te = (to+4tm + tp)/ 6
where te= Expected completion time
to= Optimistic completion time
tp= Pessimistic completion time and
tm=Most Likely completion time
These management techniques have been developed to facilitate timely completion of projects. As Thompson & Perry (1992) asserted, the longer the duration of completion of a project, the more it is influenced by inflation. Additional capital needed to finance such projects may represent a large proportion of the original outlay. This is even worse in Nigeria where inflation is so upwardly erratic.
With the above taken into account, it can be argued that proper investment in project management is the only way to ensure timely operations, delivery of infrastructure projects and project success in the mobile telecommunication industry in Nigeria. If infrastructure is optimized, then there exists a chance to invest in resources that move from sustaining to established strategic improvements.
Project management can be used to enhance flexibility. Some basic factors that contribute towards service flexibility are better customer care, flexible plans to suit requirements of different segments of the society. This thus influence and enhance performance in general. Being a part of the global world also requires some level of international skills and knowledge of the organization.
Taking any business to the international level requires drastic and steady change. This change means identifying risks, opening up new avenues for the organization’s culture and offering great chances for growth and learning through project management. All this calls for a lot of planning and appropriate leadership. The role of a project manager is crucial in such a scenario. Nonetheless, globally the attention, while selecting a project manager, is not based on mere work experience, but also on the exposure and academic abilities of the person in a given domain.
Given the current economic atmosphere and dynamic changes in the business market environment, mobile service providers and vendors are compelled to re-examine their business methods, functions and decisions through project management. Changes in business strategies is inevitable in the present world, hence for mobile service providers and vendors to successfully thrive in the competitive world, they have to strive for operational excellence. This is where project management steps in, in order to optimize the functioning and assure better performance of organizations in the telecommunication sector.
Needless to say, project management has become more of a necessity than a choice in ensuring long term business survival in the present global world. The proper use of project management practices, tools and techniques for planning, organizing, controlling, leading and motivating will enhance project success within the mobile telecommunication industries in the Nigeria and improve the business processes.
2.5. SUMMARY OF THE CHALLENGES FACING NIGERIA’S TELECOMMUNICATION INDUSTRY
Companies within the telecommunication industry in Nigeria are faced with a number challenges including:
- Slow uptake of new services
- Market saturation
- Economic downturn
- Industry deregulation which has resulted into intense competition and rising customer expectations
- Technologies such as the advent of the internet and broadband have transformed the way telecommunication companies conduct their processes. While these technologies offer new opportunities for growth, they require significant investments in terms of infrastructure and licensing
To succeed in vast growing business environment, these telecommunication companies require solutions that can help them increase efficiency and improve on their quality, navigate the deregulation process, enhance their relationships with clients and partners, and automate and streamline their business processes. Through implementation of project management, companies within the telecommunication industry in Nigeria, they are able to optimize their functioning and improve on the delivery of their infrastructure projects. Also, through the use of risk analysis and management, mobile vendors in Nigeria are able to identify and exploit new revenue opportunities.
2.6. SUMMARY OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN THE TELECOMMUNICATION SECTOR
The profitability of the mobile vendors and telecommunications companies in Nigeria hinges on their ability to improve on operational efficiencies. Successful project management would lead to better execution and resource optimization. As defined above, project management involves systematic planning, scheduling and organizing so as to accomplish a specific goal. Specifically project management seeks to:
- Define the objectives, goals and scope
- Identify and specify tasks
- Estimate the project requirements
- Preparation of a project plan
- Implementation of the plan
- Managing critical paths on the plan
- Completion of the project within the time frame and under the budget.
2.7. PROJECT MANAGEMENT OF A TYPICAL TELECOMS NETWORK
Generally, project management of a typical telecommunication system would comprise of managing several tasks. For instance; project management of a microwave tower, an outdoor telecom construction, would include:
- Site survey- tasks involve assessment of the project requirements for site construction and conducting site surveys
- Order for Services Review- Verifying that the Order for Services Review gives an accurate description of the actual work requirements
- Deliverables- making an agreement with the contractors and customers on deliverables. Deliverables may include tower loading analysis, survey reports, ground certifications, permits, construction photos among others
- Project review- this stage involves a review of the tasks and expectations. The progress is reviewed periodically and feedback provided to the contractors and the project stakeholders
- Coordination- This is another important stage of the project management which involves coordination with all the teams involved including the contractors, customers, vendors and other stakeholders
- Inspection- the various construction phases are inspected to verify that the contractors have followed the design guidelines and project specification and to ensure that the quality of execution is excellent.
- Cutover- involve commissioning of the service
2.8. PROJECT MANAGEMENT METHOD
The dynamic changes in the business environment have forced major firms within the mobile telecommunication industry to experience unprecedented levels of change. Firms that fail to manage the inherent risk associated with these changes often end up with project failures. Project management methodologies can be adopted to ensure effective project management and avert the risks and uncertainties associated with such changes. There are various project management methodologies that combine a framework with a set of project tools and guidelines. Some of them are proprietary approaches developed by consulting firms whilst others are in the public domain. These methodologies vary in scale and complexity but are based on a small core of common sense principles.
Prince2 is the most commonly used structured method for effective project management, which is the basis of this analysis. Change and uncertainty are some of the important factors that underpin the adoption of this methodology by firms implementing new projects (Gardiner, 2005). This particular methodology is widely accepted in the public domain and private sector as a standard and generic methodology for managing various projects using the same framework.
It involves the use of a structured framework that provides sequence of logical steps on a general problem and systematic information gathering, hence increasing the potential of project success (Gardiner, 2005). Prince 2 processes are well integrated with each other and this enables firms adopting this particular method to divide their projects into manageable parts for efficient control and regular process monitoring.
Nigeria is faced with huge pitfalls which have left the sector struggling in terms of service and connectivity. Analysts are however optimistic that the Internet Service Providers would avert these pitfalls and recommended long lasting solutions. Most of the major mobile telecommunication providers have launched 4G-LTE networks in the country and promise to open up new revenue generating streams by enabling new capabilities beyond mundane voice and data services. Since change and uncertainty are associated with this new framework, employing the use of Prince2 would be more appropriate to ensure successful implementation.
In order to successfully employ the use of prince2 in this case study, the researcher must take due consideration to the organizational culture, capability and the business needs of the mobile operators in Nigeria. Successful implementation of Prince2 by mobile vendors and service providers in Nigeria would see them deliver their critical business goals and develop a sustained competitive hedge.
Despite enormous benefits attributable to this particular methodology, its use does not necessarily imply that all the problems will be solved. Most projects in Nigeria’s telecommunication industry are often unique and complex, thus require experienced and competent people, as well as clearly defined set of processes, products and organizational structure.
2.10. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In this study we investigate the broader expertise in project management implementation that is influential in the development of project management. Inside this particular context, we focus on the following research questions:
- Is there any project management professional development framework within Etisalat Nigeria?
- What project management methodology is being used by Etisalat Nigeria in its telecommunication infrastructure?
- How effective is the particular methodology in ensuring project deliverables and timeliness?
- What is the contribution of project management to Etisalat Nigeria in achieving business competence and establishing the businesses’ supremacy over competitors especially in the mobile telecomm sector in the Nigeria?
- What project management methodology will enable Etisalat Nigeria limited to realize their vision of becoming process organisation through the advent of project management in their basic procedures of delivery infrastructure projects?
- How should the Etisalat Nigeria select investment/infrastructure projects for its project portfolio to ensure successful implementation of the corporate strategies and goals?
3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This chapter of the report outlines the research methodology used in collecting the data including the research strategy adopted, justification for the particular research method employed, interviews, questionnaire development, data analysis, ethical considerations and a brief outline of the research limitations encountered during the study. By way of broad overview, the collection of data was centred on the semi-structured interviewing of 3 project managers of Globacom Nigeria LTD and administration of 10 questionnaires tailored towards addressing issues of project management in delivery of infrastructure projects within the mobile telecommunication company. The interview questions were designed to solicit the experience and views of the project managers regarding the importance of implementation of project management in ensuring project success especially in infrastructure projects within Nigeria’s mobile telecom sector. Data obtained was compiled into quantitatively based spread sheets where strong themes emerged.
In the current economic atmosphere, a proper investment in project management is critical for the mobile vendors and service providers in Nigeria to survive the present hard times (Crawford, 2002). Whilst acknowledging that projects often fall short of their anticipated results due to lack of effective project management, organisations world-wide including the mobile service providers and vendors are increasingly embracing and utilizing the value benefits brought about by project management towards ensuring their operational excellence.
With the rapid growth of Globacom Nigeria Limited, the second largest National provider in Broadband, GSM, Fixed, Gateway and successful spread into various African countries, the company is poised to improve on its bandwidth, connectivity and increase on its manpower threshold. Recently, in a move that surprised many, Globacom launched LTE services for “demanding corporate customers and high data users” (Dewan, 2007). These changes present with it a unique opportunity for examining the impact of project management in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.
3.2. RESEARCH DESIGN
In examining and ascertaining the impact of project management in Globacom Nigeria LTD, selection of an appropriate research approach and method was essential as the chosen research method was used to underpin the research questions and the nature of the particular evidence generated. Appropriation between the research paradigm, research objectives and questions and the particular type of data obtained was particularly important as this had significant implications on the findings obtained and the conclusions drawn. As such, the primary objective of examining the impact of project management in enhancing project success within Nigeria’s telecommunication mobile industry served as a guideline for developing the discussion in this analysis.
3.3. RESEARCH APPROACHES
There are generally two major research paradigms often employed in data collection and analysis namely: qualitative and quantitative approaches. Quantitative methods are often formal and objective and they involve systematic processes that generate numerical data (Bowling, 1997). On the contrary, qualitative approaches are non-numerical and focus on gathering mainly verbal data (Barbour & Babour, 2002). The qualitative paradigm is based on a constructivist principle: the belief that reality is socially and subjectively constructed (Bowling, 1997).
When looking at qualitative versus quantitative methods of data collection, it is obvious that there are advantages and disadvantages associated with each methodology. Although qualitative approaches are often useful in obtaining richer insights on the research topic, data obtained from these approaches are often non representative of the entire population. On the other hand, quantitative approaches are often accurate and more representative but they do not carry much weight as carefully structured interviews designed to address issues regarding the integration of project management best practices in Globacom Nigeria Ltd.
3.4. RESEARCH STRATEGY
In order to capitalize on the strengths of each approach and offset on their limitations, a multi method strategy was employed by the researcher in data collection and analysis. According to Tashakkori & Teddlie (2003), a multi-method approach is important as it allows for the triangulation on an issue by employing different data sources in order to approach the research problem from the different viewpoints. A multi-method quantitative study was thus employed which involved the administration of 10 questionnaires and semi-structured interviewing of 3 project managers from Globacom Nigeria Ltd.
3.5. JUSTIFICATION FOR USING MULTI-METHOD STRATEGY
Adapting a multi-method approach was appropriate for this study as this approach increases the robustness of our understanding on the model and project management best practices employed in Globacom Nigeria in the delivery of infrastructure projects. This particular strategy was selected in order to supplement the information obtained from quantitative questionnaires with responses obtained from semi-structured interviews. With rapid changes in Nigeria’s telecom sector, it was important to identify the importance of project management in managing these changes and ensuring project deliverables and project success in Globacom Nigeria Ltd. By using the multi-method approach, the researcher was thus able to gain deep insights into project management practices by utilizing the analytical power of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Triangulation of the results obtained significantly improved on the reliability, validity and generalizability of the research findings.
3.6. SAMPLE SELECTION
Convenience sampling method was used to identify the participants to be interviewed. This particular method fitted well with the research questions and it allowed for additional probing questions. The interviewees were selected based on their knowledge and the relevant experience in project management, more specifically their experience with initiatives to promote the integration of project management best practices in the mobile telecom company. The 3 project managers were selected as they were best positioned to deliver precisely a deeper understanding on effective project management and the importance of integration of project management techniques within the mobile industry. All the three respondents had a minimum of 10 years’ experience in project managements.
3.7. SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS
The researcher made contact with the prospective interviewees through personal and professional network. Each participant was approached in person or mail and requested to make an appearance in the interview. The purpose of the interview was to examine the contribution of project management to mobile service providers and vendors towards establishing business supremacy over its competitors and successful delivery of infrastructure projects. This purpose was determined and explained to the interviewees to give them an understanding of the importance of the interview.
The interview questions were drafted based on the research objectives and research questions. The interviews were semi-structured and oriented towards a fundamental question; “What is the contribution of project management to Globacom Nigeria Limited in achieving business competence and establishing the businesses’ supremacy over competitors especially in the mobile telecom sector in the Nigeria?”.
During the interview process, the participants were asked a number of questions about the use of Project management in their business especially in delivery of infrastructure projects, its impact, measurable long/short term benefits, employee reactions to this transition and future of their business with Project management incorporated in their core systems. Additionally, the interviewees were asked to identify the main barriers that they had faced during their initiatives to promote the integration of project management best practices at the core of Globacoms’ delivery of infrastructure projects. The value benefits of integration of project management in the delivery of infrastructure projects were clear and succinct and shared by all the three respondents to a greater degree. Appropriate follow ups were made to clarify some elements that seemed unclear.
Quantitative questionnaires were supplied to employees within the company. The questionnaires covered various areas in line with project management such as strategic process of project management and how management processes were coordinated on infrastructure projects right from initiation to completion. Appropriate follow up was made to ensure that the questionnaires reached the right audience hence allowing an appropriate amount of information to be collected and analyzed. The completed questionnaire served to build up the data bank on the research topic which was then used to supplement the responses obtained from the semi-structured interviews. The quantitative questionnaire was designed as shown below.
Project Management Quantitative Questionnaire (See Appendix)
3.8. DATA COLLECTION
There was need for an integration of the original individual study through primary research with an existing knowledge and previous research. Therefore, both primary and secondary data were used in data collection and analysis. Primary research which was based on 10 quantitative questionnaires and semi-structured interviewing of 3 project managers formed an important piece for this analysis. Secondary research was employed to ascertain, compare and integrate with primary research for the purpose of comprehensive and logical analysis. A thorough knowledge of secondary information was useful in enhancing the efficiency of primary research method. Secondary data was therefore drawn from independent sources including academic journals, published articles, textbooks, internet sources and project management reports.
3.9. Data analysis.
Thematic analysis (Saunders et al, 2009) was adopted in the analysis of data obtained through primary and secondary sources. The interview scripts and questionnaires were analyzed using thematic coding. Specific themes (such as the increasing awareness on importance of project management best practices and their impacts in the telecommunication industry), which are based on the research objectives, were utilized in analyzing the findings obtained from the interview and from the relevant publications.
3.10. RELIABILITY, VALIDITY AND GENERALIZABILITY
Semi-structured interviews with the 3 managers in Globacom Nigeria Ltd involved a data gathering process which was associated with high degree of subjectivity. The study was therefore prone to interview bias and respondent errors. Also data obtained from quantitative questionnaires were less likely to be valid as some respondents were noted answering superficially while others were unwilling to answer certain questions related to the research topic. To increase the validity of the research findings and evaluation of responses the researcher triangulated the responses with articles from independent sources such as published articles, academic journals, textbooks, the internet and economic reports.
Questionnaires were also issued on two separate occasions approximately 2 weeks apart. The two sets of responses obtained from the quantitative questionnaires were then compared statistically using the spearman’s rank correlation for continuous data. This was done to further improve on the reliability and the validity of the findings obtained from the primary research by ensuring consistency of the responses.
A number of ethical issues were noted while conducting the study. Almost all the interviewees were unwilling to share and disclose crucial and sensitive information about the company’s project models and techniques currently employed. They feared that if such information were to get out, it would impact on their competitive advantage against their business competitors.
It was also noted that, the project managers were a bit sceptical of wrongdoing. It was difficult for them to admit to having done something wrong as they feared that this would impact on their reputation and hence their competitive position within the company. Additionally, a shift of blame was observed among the interviewees where they kept pointing fingers for an unsuccessful venture of project completion.
3.11. Research limitations
Some of the limitations that were encountered by the researcher are outlined in this section and they include:
- Interviewees not willing to spend enough time to answer to additional probing questions.
- Some interviewees were noted withholding some crucial information on the various models and project management techniques currently employed by the company towards optimizing its operations.
- Not all questions were answered in the respective questionnaires.
- Time constraints in conducting the research, analysis and interpreting results.
- There was a high degree of subjectivity in the semi-structured interviews. Findings thus required much interpretation and biases were difficult to avoid.
4. CHAPTER 4: Research Evidence & Analysis
This chapter presents the research evidence and attempts to make sense of it by analysing the information provided by the respondents through interviews and questionnaire. As was indicated in the previous chapter, a multi-method approach is used in data collection in order to allow for a comprehensive pool of data that enhances understanding of the subject matter that this study is interested in. Thematic analysis is used in this chapter to compartmentalize the different themes that the 3 respondents from Etisalat Nigeria addressed during the interviews, and also contextualize the respective answers respondents provided in the questionnaires. The research evidence and themes emerging from the data are categorized on the basis of the research objectives earlier indicated for the present study; this helps facilitate a purposive alignment of the research evidence with the research objectives.
4.2. CATEGORIZATION OF MAJOR THEMES
In line with the semi-structured interview questions and questionnaire design, the information provided by respondents in relation to the project management experience at Etisalat Nigeria touched on a number of recurrent themes across all 3 interviewees and 10 questionnaire respondents. With the benefit of the thematic analytical method, the major themes that were identified in the respondents’ data include: the benefits of project management for Etisalat Nigeria, the role and responsibilities of the project manager in the company, the importance of organizational structures for project success, the reasons for adopting specific project management methodologies, and the challenges associated with integrating project management.
|Major Themes||Summary of Key Points|
|Benefits of Project Management||
|Role and Responsibilities of Project Managers||
|Importance of Organizational Structures for Project Success||
|Reasons for Adopting Specific Project Management Method||
|Challenges Associated with Integrating project management||
4.3. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The following research objectives are being described based on the findings from the semi structured interviews. Three managers have been interviewed, and for confidentiality reasons, they have been labeled Respondent 1 – 3 (R1, R2 and R3). The following are excerpts and descriptions from their interviews. For the full transcript, please see appendix.
4.3.1. BENEFITS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TO ETISALAT
This respondent (R1) explains that project management has significantly increased Etisalat Nigeria’s optimization of infrastructure development and maintenance at the various operational locations across the country. R1 further suggests that the company’s project management has for instance helped in stabilizing and standardizing its EDGE data transmission in all areas where the mobile network signals are received – including remote regions of the country.
R1 also explains that Etisalat Nigeria’s project managers are always expected to implement best practices in all project assignments, and that this has had the effect of improving infrastructure management and the quality of the network in terms of calls and data services. He contends that this is made possible by the approach the project managers adopt to discharge their responsibilities – preferring to identify problems that may cause disruptions and report to the management to take proactive corrective steps.
For the second respondent (R2), the benefits of project management for Etisalat Nigeria may be considered as being three-fold: timely completion of projects, facilitation of system expansion and capacity building, and cost savings. Claiming that the industry leading quality of Etisalat’s voice and data services provides evidence of the effectiveness of its project management framework, R2 contends that the application of best practices and global premium standards by project managers has yielded benefits for the company that the other telecommunications companies in Nigeria may struggle to replicate.
On another level, R2 explains that effective project management for Etisalat has manifested in terms of practical benefits for the company especially with regard to bouquet of innovative services made possible by stable telecommunications construction infrastructure. To this end he claims that innovative services such as the Home Zone and Caller Pays features introduced to the Nigerian market by Etisalat – which have contributed to the significant growth in subscriber base – are concrete evidences of how project management improves the company’s infrastructure development:
For Respondent 3, the impact of project management has been felt across board throughout the project life cycle at Etisalat Nigeria. He contends that project managers have made contributions at all stages of infrastructure projects, which has led to all round efficiency of the company and the quality of its products and services.
Competition with the other telecommunications (GSM) operators in Nigeria who have larger subscriber bases have been one area where project management has also contributed to the operations of Etisalat Nigeria – according to the views expressed by Respondent 3. Considering the huge population of Nigeria and the scope and extensity of its geography, installation of cell sites has been an ongoing concern for the company as it continually strives to establish operations and spread its network to a larger segment of the population. This has involved significant use of project management in order to ensure that the timelines for project design and completion and other deliverables are strictly complied with. In effect, R3 states that Project managers have been instrumental in actualizing the objectives and plans of Etisalat’s management in terms of building and delivering cell sites across the country in line with the strategic objectives of the company.
4.3.2. UTILISATION OF PROJECT MGMT IN MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT DELIVERY
The primary project management methodology adopted by Etisalat Nigeria, according to Respondent 1, is the Prince2 framework which is commonly acknowledged as one of the most effective methods for well structured effective project management. R1 further explains that with the Prince2 method, Etisalat’s project managers are able to undertake several aspects of different ongoing projects across Nigeria using a single integrative platform which facilitates cohesion and promotes efficiency across board. Given that Etisalat Nigeria aims at covering as much ground as possible within the shortest possible time, there is great emphasis on (often tight) deadlines as well as expanded pool of deliverables. This makes it inevitable for project managers working for the company to use a methodology that promotes synchronization in order to pool resources together and achieve the set deliverables in line with the strategic directions of the company.
Furthermore, given the nature of the telecommunications business, the extent to which projects are deemed successful and satisfactory may largely be measureable only in terms of the extent to which the company’s services address customers and stakeholders’ needs. Telecommunications subscribers need to be satisfied with the quality of service as well as range of products provided by services in order for the company’s projects to be deemed successful.
Apart from the need to ensure quality of service in order to meet the needs of customers and ensure their satisfaction, there is also the need for a significant level of compliance with the regulatory stipulations and service benchmarks set down by the primary telecommunications regulator in Nigeria – the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). In view of the foregoing, R1 explains how the processes involved in the infrastructure projects contribute towards helping Etisalat Nigeria satisfy its customers’ needs and comply with regulatory requirements:
The respondent R2 also notes that the preferred project management methodology for Etisalat Nigeria is the Prince2 which, as he points out, is a well-structured methodology that is essentially process driven that incorporates processes such as starting up, initiating, directing and controlling projects, as well as controlling stages and managing stage boundaries of such projects. R2 further contends that in the context of Etisalat Nigeria’s approach to project management, the Prince2 methodology also involves managing product delivery and closing projects – with the aid of several project management techniques that are applicable in the telecommunications industry.
Another issue addressed by R2 in the course of the interview had to do with the kind of risks that are anticipated in the course of implementing effective project management for Etisalat Nigeria. In this regard, the respondent identifies general risks such as cost risks, scheduling risks, technology risks, legal risks, as well as risks pertaining to the local communities and operating environment as the broad risks that are associated with project management implementation for Etisalat Nigeria. Explaining further, R2 suggests that difficulties and unpredictable events in the business environment may sometimes cause project managers to underestimate the length for completion of tasks which means that such projects may end up lasting much longer than was originally intended or budgeted for:
From R3’s point of view, the Prince2 project management methodology helps Etisalat Nigeria’s project managers keep up with the challenge of meeting up with deliverables and facilitating the company’s competitive capacity. This respondent’s emphasis is particularly on the means by which the infrastructure project processes help Etisalat Nigeria address the needs of its subscribers in a way that is exclusive to the company. In view of the highly competitive nature of the Nigerian telecommunications industry, where there is a high level of imitation between the contending rivals, and a price-competition for products and services, it is very challenging for the project managers to help maintain a competitive edge for Etisalat Nigeria, and ensure that its customers get the best possible services at competitive prices. Accordingly, R3 suggests that the infrastructure project processes undertaken by the project managers involved a product-based planning approach made possible by the Prince2 methodology.
R3 also suggests that the project management framework put in place by Etisalat Nigeria is an integrative one that combines a proactive approach to addressing anticipated project risks with a concurrent focus on ensuring that the processes associated with infrastructure projects ultimately lead to increased satisfaction of customers and stakeholders such as agents, distributors and marketers. In terms of the anticipated project risks, R3 explains that a particularly problematic risk that the project managers have to contend with and prepare for is the cost risks occasioned by instability of procurement prices and delays in project completion. Given that the difficulties resulting in cost overruns may sometimes make it impossible t complete projects within the stipulated timelines, some project managers may be tempted to cut corners and apply quick-fix solutions in order to circumvent the effects of the higher costs and possible failure to meet deadlines. This may then lead to poor quality implementation of projects which in turn diminishes the extent to which such projects would contribute to customer or stakeholder satisfaction. R3 insists that the project management framework at Etisalat Nigeria envisages this possibility and has effective measure to discourage it.
4.3.3. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE.
There is a clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities within the organizational structure and project management framework of Etisalat Nigeria, and this demarcation is designed to enhance organizational performance. Respondent 1 explains that his role and duties as a project manager for Etisalat Nigeria, for instance, involves largely managerial and technical functions such as managing the delivery of professional-services based projects and coordinating internal groups such as network equipment engineering and field and switch operations. Indeed, this respondent suggests that his job responsibilities as stipulated by Etisalat Nigeria are wide ranging and encompass several aspects of project operations from design to delivery and implementation.
Given that infrastructure projects are meant to facilitate Etisalat Nigeria’s capacity to implement its corporate goals, Respondent 1 also points out that the primary consideration for the company in selecting projects to undertake is the extent to which such a project can enhance its service quality and satisfy its customers’ needs. Indeed he notes that customer satisfaction is the basis for which projects are considered successful or not; projects and investments by the company are typically meant to produce what customers require, and within appropriate cost and timeline. Assuming that the ability to provide customer satisfaction at the right cost (with the consequent rewards for the company) is a vital element of organizational performance, one may in this sense identify a connection between project management and organizational performance.
On the basis of his experience in project management, R1 also shares his views on how mobile infrastructure might be optimized and how the delivery of infrastructure projects may be improved for the benefit of Etisalat Nigeria. He suggests that there is need for an improved system of liaising with stakeholders such as suppliers and community representatives in order to ensure greater integrity of project processes. This is important in view of the frequent disruptions in project implementation (particularly during installation of cell sites) where there may be delays on the part of equipment suppliers or deliberate sabotaging of efforts by discontented members of the local communities.
R2 explains that his role and responsibilities as a project manager with Etisalat Nigeria largely involve monitoring and control – specifically to ensure that infrastructure projects (especially installation of base transceiver stations) are completed within budget, delivered on time, and produce considerable level of customer satisfaction. Also part of this respondent’s duties is to identify and resolve whatever conflicts or issues that may arise within the project team during the course of development. His responsibilities also include defining the success criteria for projects, and communicating them to the team members and other parties that are involved throughout the life cycle of the project. Fulfilling this wide range of responsibilities requires R2 to have a hands-on approach to project management in order to ensure that progress is not obstructed at any point in the project life-cycle.
The need for constant maintenance of cell sites in order to prevent disruptions in network coverage is also a major reason why project managers’ engagement in Etisalat is considered vital. Respondent 2 explains that the all-round performance of Etisalat’s network especially with regard to call-clarity, low call-drop level and stable data transmission services is partly due to the meticulousness with which the company’s project managers engage in constant monitoring and control of existing mobile infrastructures in all locations where transmission equipment and base transceiver stations are sited. This begins with the extreme care with which the company selects specific infrastructure projects in order to determine that they can be monitored continually for optimal performance.
This respondent’s main responsibilities as a project manager for Etisalat largely involve risk management functions. Part of his duties in that regard include summarizing planned and faced risks, maintaining a current database of project risk, preparing risk-mitigation plans, and facilitating a channel for anonymous risk reporting. Respondent 3 also points out that an emerging necessity for telecommunication firms (especially GSM operators) has to do with the practice of site sharing, which involves corporation between two or more companies in the industry to co-locate their base stations or mobile infrastructure in order to benefit from shared expertise, shared risk and reduced cost. Part of his responsibilities as project manager for Etisalat involves overseeing the management of collaborative ventures such as site sharing arrangements between Etisalat and other telecommunications network operators in order to ensure maximal utilization of capacity and optimal value for Etisalat and its subscribers. Furthermore, R3 suggests that infrastructure projects are selected on the basis of their relevance to the corporate goals of Etisalat – especially as regards average revenue per user (ARPU) and customer satisfaction. It is therefore part of this respondent’s broad responsibilities to ensure that projects align with the core goals of the company in this regard.
Respondent 3 also opines that the relatively high level of project success achieved by Etisalat is closely related to the appropriate selection of projects that align with the company’s goals – thereby making it easier to establish clear linkages between project management and Etisalat’s organizational performance. Noting however that challenges and shortcomings yet exist in Etisalat’s project planning and implementation, R3 recommends constant retraining and retooling of the company’s project managers in order to enhance their knowledge of the operating environment, learn the latest ways of implementing project management techniques, and boost their capacity to overcome difficulties that characterise infrastructure projects in Nigeria.
4.4. ANALYSIS OF QUESTIONNAIRE FINDINGS
The questionnaire was designed to gather respondents’ views on project management integration, project management relevance, strategic process, and project lifecycle management process.
Table 4.1 Project Management Integration
Table 4.2 Response Rate in Percentage
SD: STRONGLY DISAGREE N: NEUTRAL S: STRONGLY AGREE
D: DISAGREE A: AGREE
A: Project management techniques have been put in place for planning, organizing, controlling and monitoring all aspects of infrastructure projects in Etisalat Nigeria
B: over and above the project organisation, projects implemented in the company consist of project interaction teams such as the risk management teams
C: There is a project manager put in place to monitor the realization of the phase objectives
Table 4.1 above shows the actual responses while Table 4.2 presented the percentage representation of the collated responses with the agreed and disagreed ranges merged.
4.4.1. Project Management Integration
Most of the respondents (80%) strongly agree that project management techniques are in place at Etisalat for planning, organizing, controlling and managing all aspects of the company’s infrastructure projects; they also agree that effective project management has not only addressed a genuine development problem in Etisalat Nigeria, but has also enabled the company to improve on the delivery of its infrastructure projects. Furthermore, most of the respondents (70%) agree that projects implemented in Etisalat Nigeria consist of project interaction teams such as risk management teams; there is also a high degree of agreement (80) that there is a project manager in place at the company whose responsibility it is to ensure that the phase objectives are realized. No respondent disagreed to these questions – although 30% and 20% respectively choose neutral positions on the subjects.
Table 4.3 Project Management Relevance
Table 4.4 Response Rate in Percentage
SD: STRONGLY DISAGREE N: NEUTRAL S: STRONGLY AGREE
D: DISAGREE A: AGREE
A: Effective project management has addressed a genuine development problem in Etisalat Nigeria
B: The integration of project management in Etisalat Nigeria has enabled the company to improve on the delivery of its infrastructure projects
C: Effective project management is enabling the company to optimize on its mobile infrastructure and boost its business decisions.
D: Mobile service providers and vendors are benefiting by utilizing project management best practices to streamline and enhance their business processes and the overall efficiency
E: Effective project management method has enabled Etisalat Nigeria to establish its business supremacy over its competitors
Table 4.3 above shows the actual responses while Table 4.4 presents the percentage representation of the collated responses with the agreed and disagreed ranges merged.
4.4.2. Project Management Relevance
Majority of the respondents indicate that project management is indeed relevant to the operations of Etisalat Nigeria because it has addressed a genuine development problem for the company (60%) and enabled it to improve delivery of its infrastructure projects (70%). Furthermore, half of the respondents (50%) indicate that mobile service providers and vendors are benefitting by utilizing project management best practices to enhance their business processes, while only 30% of respondents indicate that project management has enabled Etisalat Nigeria to establish business supremacy over its competitors. On the basis of these findings, it is clear that opinion is divided among the respondents on the extent to which project management best practices enhance business processes and overall efficiency, as well as the degree to which project management has enabled Etisalat Nigeria to establish business supremacy over its competitors. Specifically with regard to the question of whether project management has brought about business supremacy for Etisalat over its competitors, a sizable percentage of respondents (60%) choose to be neutral on the subject – while 20% of the respondents boldly indicated disagreement.
Table 4.5 Strategic Process
Table 4.6 Response Rate in Percentage
SD: STRONGLY DISAGREE N: NEUTRAL S: STRONGLY AGREE
D: DISAGREE A: AGREE
A: The needs of both the stakeholders and customers of Etisalat Nigeria have been clearly understood to ensure that the project related processes are focused on addressing their needs.
B: There is a conducive organizational structure which support project objectives established within the company
C: Management decisions in Etisalat Nigeria are based on data and factual information
Table 4.5 above shows the actual responses while Table 4.6 presents the percentage representation of the collated responses with the agreed and disagreed ranges merged.
4.4.3. Strategic Process
In response to questions pertaining to the strategic process of Etisalat Nigeria’s project management framework, almost all of the respondents (90%) indicate agreement that the needs of Etisalat Nigeria’s stakeholders and customers are clearly understood to ensure that project related processes focus on addressing such needs. This largely correlates with the views expressed by the interview respondents who largely emphasized the importance of customers’ and stakeholders’ satisfaction in the entire project planning and implementation process. Additionally, most of the respondents (70%) indicate that the organizational structure at Etisalat Nigeria is conducive for supporting the company’s project objectives; only 10 % disagree while 20% choose to be neutral on the question. Another area concerning the strategic process was the question of whether management decisions at Etisalat Nigeria are based on factual data and information. In this regard, only 50% of the respondents indicated clear agreement, while 10% disagreed and 40% were neutral on the subject.
Table 4.7 Project Lifecycle Management Process
Table 4.8 Response Rate in Percentage
SD: STRONGLY DISAGREE N: NEUTRAL S: STRONGLY AGREE
D: DISAGREE A: AGREE
A: The various project lifecycle stages are followed when managing infrastructure projects i.e initiation, planning, execution and closure stages.
B: An appropriate quality plan has been developed for all current mobile infrastructure projects in the company which include reviews and progress evaluations
C: Contingency plans have been put in place to handle deviation from the original plans and unexpected crisis
Table 4.7 above shows the actual responses while Table 4.8 presents the percentage representation of the collated responses with the agreed and disagreed ranges merged.
4.4.4. Project Lifecycle Management Process
Although most of the respondents indicate their agreement to the suggestion that project life-cycle stages i.e. initiation, planning, execution and closure are followed when managing infrastructure projects for Etisalat Nigeria, a considerable percentage of the respondents (40% neutral; 10% disagree; 10% strongly disagree) are not sufficiently convinced that contingency plans are in place to handle unexpected crisis or deviations from the original plans. In response to the suggestion that an appropriate plan has been developed for all of Etisalat Nigeria’s existing infrastructure projects – including reviews and progress evaluations, 60% were indicated agreement while 20% clearly disagreed; the remaining 20% were not sure and so they chose to be neutral. However, a majority of the respondents (80%) indicated agreement to the suggestion that contingency plans are in place at Etisalat Nigeria to handle deviations from original plans and unexpected crises. This finding is clearly in harmony with suggestions made by an interview respondent who noted that the company regularly prepares and updates contingency arrangements to maintain the course of projects and cushion the effect of unexpected situations.
Table 4.9 Total Response Rate
Table 4.10 Response Rate in Percentage
Fig.1 Total Response Rate
Source: Research Survey 2011
SD: STRONGLY DISAGREE N: NEUTRAL S: STRONGLY AGREE
D: DISAGREE A: AGREE
PMI: Project Management Integration
PMR: Project Management Relevance
SP: Strategic Process
PLMP: Project Lifecycle Management Process
Table 4.9 above shows the actual responses while Table 4.10 presents the percentage representation of the collated responses with the agreed and disagreed ranges merged.
4.5. EVALUATING THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE DATA EVIDENCE ANSWERS THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Six research questions provided the basis for conducting the research and realizing objectives of the present study. In order to fully determine the extent to which the evidence from the primary data provides matching answers to the research questions, it is worthwhile to recall the research questions once more:
1. Is there any project management professional development framework within Etisalat Nigeria?
2. What project management methodology is being used by Etisalat Nigeria in its telecommunication infrastructure?
3. How effective is the particular methodology in ensuring project deliverables and timeliness?
4. What is the contribution of project management to Etisalat Nigeria in achieving business competence and establishing the businesses’ supremacy over competitors especially in the mobile telecomm sector in the Nigeria?
5. What project management methodology will enable Etisalat Nigeria limited to realize their vision of becoming process organisation through the advent of project management in their basic procedures of delivery infrastructure projects?
6. How should the Etisalat Nigeria select investment/infrastructure projects for its project portfolio to ensure successful implementation of the corporate strategies and goals?
ishing the businesses’ supremacy over competitors especially in the mobile telecomm sector in the Nigeria?
5. What project management methodology will enable Etisalat Nigeria limited to realize their vision of becoming process organisation through the advent of project management in their basic procedures of delivery infrastructure projects?
6. How should the Etisalat Nigeria select investment/infrastructure projects for its project portfolio to ensure successful implementation of the corporate strategies and goals?
In response to Research Question 1, although evidence from the research does not explicitly indicate the existence of a formal project management professional development framework within Etisalat Nigeria, it does suggest that the company supports project management development by allocating a considerable degree of its crucial infrastructure construction and management to project managers. Indeed, evidence also suggests the existence of a project management framework – consisting of different project managers with clearly specified roles and responsibilities – that helps the company ensure efficiency and timeliness in the management of its project development and mobile infrastructure needs. Nonetheless, the extent to which the information supplied by the interview and questionnaire respondents effectively answers the question of whether a project management professional development framework exists in Etisalat Nigeria can only be determined through inference and subjective interpretation.
In response to Research Question 2, evidence from the research findings clearly indicates that the project management methodology being used by Etisalat Nigeria in managing its telecommunications infrastructure is the Projects in Controlled Environments (Prince2) methodology which, according to the interviewed respondents, is one of the most effective methods for well structured and effective project management practice. Although the respondents identify the Prince2 methodology as the principal project methodology employed for Etisalat Nigeria, there is no attempt by them to compare or evaluate the other possible methodologies that might have also enhanced the company’s project management framework.
In response to response to Research Question 3, the findings basically indicate that the Prince2 project management methodology enables the company’s project managers to undertake several aspects of ongoing projects across Nigeria using a single integrative platform that facilitates cohesion and promotes efficiency throughout the project lifecycle. Information provided by the interview respondents further suggests that this methodology helps ensure project deliverables and timeliness by facilitating the division of large projects into different stages for easier manageability and control, and also helps to address the problem of quality within the Managing product Delivery (MPD) process. These very specific findings explicitly answer the question of how effective the Prince2 methodology is for Etisalat, although it must also be pointed out that they do not permit the researcher to determine the extent to which project deliverables and timeliness can be conclusively regarded as direct consequences of the adopted Prince2 methodology.
In respect of Research Question 4, the evidence does not conclusively answer the research question, given that there were no unanimous agreement on the part of respondents that project management has helped Etisalat Nigeria to establish business superiority over its industry competitors – particularly rival GSM network operators such as MTN, GLO and AIRTEL. Although the responses of the interviewees and questionnaire respondents largely indicate that project management has contributed towards enhancing Etisalat Nigeria’s business competence, an interpretation of their responses suggest that they are not convinced that the company has yet achieved business supremacy over its larger competitors. Considering that Etisalat Nigeria is currently the smallest operator in the GSM subsector of the Nigerian mobile telecommunications industry both by number of subscribers and by revenues (Oketola, 2011), one understands the reluctance of the respondents to emphasize any kind of business supremacy of Etisalat at the present time.
As for Research Question 5, the entirety of the research findings are similar to those presented in response to the second research question. In other words, the respondents mostly agree that the Prince2 methodology is ideal for Etisalat Nigeria’s project management framework and would facilitate the achievement of its vision to become a process organization. The respondents indicate that the methodology permits a product-based approach to planning which makes it possible to apply project management best practices in their procedures for the delivery of infrastructure projects.
With regard to Research Question 6, evidence from the research findings suggest that investment/infrastructure projects are selected on the basis of the considered benefits they would have for customers, as well as the extent to which such investments or infrastructure projects would help Etisalat Nigeria increase efficiency (including cost reduction) and enhance its market share. The interview respondents were particularly mindful of the fact that the success of projects can only be determined in terms of the benefits derived from such projects. Accordingly, projects that lead to improved quality of products and services at competitive prices as well as a wider coverage area would altogether increase the level of customer satisfaction for the company. Similarly, projects that are delivered in an efficient manner and within the set budgets and timelines would also help the company reduce costs and therefore enhance its overall competitiveness. It is from this perspective that the relevance of the findings to this research question can be appropriately ascertained.
1. CHAPTER 5: Conclusions & Recommendations
1.1. EVALUATION OF FINDINGS
Although there are several distinct dimensions to the viewpoints expressed by the interview respondents, the central idea that permeates the findings is that project management has indeed played an important role in enhancing the operations of Etisalat Nigeria in the telecommunications industry and facilitating its main aim of providing optimal value for customers and stakeholders. The respondents suggest that through the project management methodology and techniques utilized by Etisalat, the company has managed to ensure that it provides superior quality of voice and data services to customers. As was suggested by R1 for instance, Etisalat’s internet services are considered the most reliable, and their EDGE coverage is stable and consistent across all their network coverage areas unlike the case with some of the competitors. The respondent therefore suggests that this is made possible by the effective project management of the processes associated with building and operating mobile infrastructure across Nigeria. However, there is not enough evidence in the findings to prove that the relative efficiency of the Etisalat’s infrastructure and the quality of the voice and data services are necessarily due to effective project management – as opposed to the internal management practices and effective technical and management structures in place at the company. The respondents’ views in themselves do not convey sufficient specific details about the exact extent to which Etisalat Nigeria’s overall efficiency and quality of service can be attributed to effective project management.
From the findings however, it is clear that effective project management helps Etisalat Nigeria to ensure synchronous execution of several mobile infrastructure projects thereby facilitating its competitive capacity especially in view of the fact that the company is the newest entrant into the Nigerian GSM market, and needed to roll-out its network as quickly and effectively as possible. The respondents make it clear that an efficient implementation of the Prince2 project management methodology made it possible for Etisalat to compartmentalise its infrastructure projects in multiple locations and still ensure timely and cost-effective project delivery. On the other hand however it is not entirely clear what constitutes the assessment criteria for determining how successful Etisalat Nigeria’s project management has been in terms of helping the company gain a higher market share in comparison with its competitors. Although the network roll-out has been proceeding at a steady pace, there is still a very significant gap in the subscriber base of Etisalat and that of other GSM networks. Etisalat Nigeria’s subscriber base is estimated at 5 million as at 2010, while its biggest competitor, MTN Nigeria, reportedly has a subscriber base of 40 million (see TeleGeography, 2010; Oketola, 2011). It may nonetheless be argued that, assuming that effective project management has played a significant role in helping Etisalat Nigeria achieve a subscriber base of 5 million, it should be considered a worthwhile achievement given that the company only commenced operations in Nigeria as recently as 2008.
1.2. COMPARING THE RESEARCH EVIDENCE WITH THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES IN THE LITERATURE
The research evidence obtained through the primary data from interviews and questionnaire responses aligns with certain theoretical perspectives on project management that have been discussed in existing literature. For example, as has been earlier pointed out in the literature review section of this study, project success may be defined in terms of the extent to which a project meets the design goals, and benefits the company and the end user (Sadeh et al, 2000). This theoretical perspective is reinforced by the views expressed by some of the respondents (for instance R2) to the effect that most of the infrastructure projects selected by Etisalat Nigeria are selected on the basis of their capacity to benefit the company (in terms of cost savings and process optimization for instance) and their capacity to provide great value to subscribers by improving coverage and quality of service in general. In this regard Crawford (2002) and Cleland (1986) have pointed out that the success of projects is best evaluated in terms of the degree to which the project’s technical performance objective has been attained within the budget and deadline, as well as the extent to which the project contributes to an organization’s strategic mission and objectives. Clearly, there is considerable agreement between this theoretical position and the views expressed by the respondents as regards how project management fits into Etisalat Nigeria’s operational framework.
On another level, the importance of risk management in projects and the role of project managers in ensuring effective risk management have been severally discussed in the academic literature (see for example Kerzner, 2001). The research evidence from the present study also aligns with this theoretical position, given that the respondents also indicate that there are several risks associated with infrastructure projects in the Nigerian telecommunications market, and emphasise the roles project managers play in managing and mitigating such risks for the benefit of the company and its customers and stakeholders.
1.3. OPTIMISING PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN THE NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY
There are a number of strategies that may be adopted by Etisalat Nigeria in order to optimize its project management framework and enhance the benefits of effective project management for its operations. Perhaps the most important step in this direction is to ensure a greater understanding of the operating environment – in order to fully comprehend and contextualize the kind of problems and risks that would impede infrastructure projects. As was pointed out by some of the interview respondents, a major risk factor that accounts for project delays and cost overruns is the obstacle posed by representatives of local communities where cell sites and other infrastructure projects are located. In this regard, it is crucial for Etisalat Nigeria to employ project managers who are proficient in community relations and who possess a keen understanding of the local contexts and can communicate and negotiate meaningfully with local interest groups in order to facilitate smooth execution of projects.
Furthermore, there is need to clearly define and standardize project success criteria in order to set deliverables that are most aligned with the core objectives of the company. In this sense, such success criteria should entail measurable indices pertaining to average revenue per user, cost savings on projects, and positive feedback on customer satisfaction.
1.4. SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
Although the present study attempts to investigate the importance of project management in the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry, the limitations in scope and focus does not allow for a more thorough evaluation of the industry-wide relevance of project management practice. Accordingly, there is room for further research in order to gain more insights into the different dimensions of project management application in the industry. Future research might need to address the issue of project success from a more multi-dimensional perspective – using more telecommunications companies in the country as case study. Given that a telecommunications company is a network of several interrelated parts each of which serves an important purpose, it would be worthwhile for future research to examine how the performances of project mangers working in different kinds of projects are evaluated to determine the effectiveness of their contributions. This would make it easier to determine how project management (as opposed to internal business processes and strategies) actually brings about operational efficiency and customer satisfaction for telecommunications companies.
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3.1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT QUANTITATIVE QUESTIONNAIRE
As a partial fulfillment of my course work, I hereby would like to collect data and information on the importance of effective project management in the delivery of mobile infrastructure projects at Etisalat Nigeria. This is entirely an academic research and is in no way affiliated with any organization. I will really appreciate your proactive support in participating in filling this questionnaire so that the research can gain good credibility.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION
Could you kindly rate the extent to which you agree/disagree with the statements below?
(1- Strongly disagree, 2- Disagree, 3- Neutral, 4- Agree, 5- Strongly agree).
|1||Project management techniques have been put in place for planning, organizing, controlling and monitoring all aspects of infrastructure projects in Etisalat Nigeria||2||5||3|
|2||Over and above the project organisation, projects implemented in the company consist of project interaction teams such as the risk management teams||3||5||2|
|3||There is a project manager put in place to monitor the realization of the phase objectives||2||7||1|
PROJECT MANAGEMENT RELEVANCE
Could you kindly rate the extent to which effective project management has maintained its relevance within Etisalat Nigeria.
|1||Effective project management has addressed a genuine development problem in Etisalat Nigeria||4||3||3|
|2||The integration of project management in Etisalat Nigeria has enabled the company to improve on the delivery of its infrastructure projects.||3||6||1|
|3||Effective project management is enabling the company to optimize on its mobile infrastructure and boost its business decisions.||2||6||2|
|4||Mobile service providers and vendors are benefiting by utilizing project management best practices to streamline and enhance their business processes and the overall efficiency||5||5|
|5||Effective project management method has enabled Etisalat Nigeria to establish its business supremacy over its competitors||2||6||2|
Kindly rate the extent to which you agree/disagree with the statements below
|1||The needs of both the stakeholders and customers of Etisalat Nigeria have been clearly understood to ensure that the project related processes are focused on addressing their needs.||1||8||1|
|2||There is a conducive organizational structure which support project objectives established within the company||1||2||5||2|
|3||Management decisions in Etisalat Nigeria are based on data and factual information||1||4||5|
PROJECT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT PROCESS
Kindly rate the extent to which you agree/disagree with the statements below
|1||The various project lifecycle stages are followed when managing infrastructure projects i.e initiation, planning, execution and closure stages||2||4||4|
|2||An appropriate quality plan has been developed for all current mobile infrastructure projects in the company which include reviews and progress evaluations.||2||2||6|
|3||Contingency plans have been put in place to handle deviation from the original plans and unexpected crisis||1||1||4||4|
3.2. QUALITATIVE INTERVIEW
3.2.1. BENEFITS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TO ETISALAT
- a. What benefits have effective project management yielded in your company especially in delivery of infrastructure projects?
- b. Has effective project management addressed a genuine development problem in Etisalat Nigeria?
- c. Could you give a brief explanation on how project management best practices are enabling the company to improve on the delivery of its mobile infrastructure projects and increase on its overall efficiency?
Our project management platform has been of tremendous benefit to the Etisalat’s operations and service delivery. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it has helped develop our capacity to make the most of investments in telecom infrastructures ranging from whole base stations and support power systems to diverse GSM equipments and reinforcements. The effective framework for project management from initiation to completion and maintenance is such that makes it possible to derive optimal value for all the infrastructure investments (R1).
At the time Etisalat commenced operations in Nigeria, a key challenge at the time was ensuring stable internet access for telecom subscribers in the country. Most of the other networks that started before us were having difficulties (and still do have difficulties) providing uniform and stable EDGE data transmission across the country. We have since ensured that EDGE or enhanced GPRS is available in all locations covered by our GSM network. To a large extent project managers contributed to this by painstakingly ensuring that the support infrastructures are always up and running at all bas stations and transmission hubs (R1).
At every stage of the way, we ensure that the project deliverables are made clear to the management of Etisalat, particularly with regard to the service baselines, project quality standards, cast and savings analysis, and other associated data options and results. The implication for the management is that they are able to make informed decisions about how to implement their technical plans. The benefit is not only in terms of system efficiency, but also of cost efficiency for Etisalat; this is a noteworthy feat if you consider that Etisalat set up operations after the other GSM companies had long established and commenced operations in the country.
Project management assisted Etisalat’s roll-out plan when it started operations in Nigeria by providing a framework within which the rapid development of infrastructure and system support projects could be executed. This has helped Etisalat catch up and even surpass the existing GSM operators in terms of service delivery. In specific terms, the project management framework adopted by the company helped ensure that cell-site installation projects were delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner. Furthermore, project management has enhanced he capacity of the network to embark on system expansion – an example of which is the recent acquisition and ongoing integration of 3G data transmission capabilities into the existing backbone. Project managers working for Etisalat have greatly facilitated this process both in terms of technical input and managerial and supervisory responsibilities.
Information systems project management at Etisalat has been very instrumental to the considerable success achieved by Etisalat in its relatively short period of operation in the Nigerian telecommunications sector. There are many dimensions through which project managers have helped the growth process for Etisalat – ranging from project initiation, execution, monitoring and control, to project wrap up. Certain innovative services initiated by Etisalat such as the Home Zone feature where formulated with the active participation of project managers in the information systems department, and have accounted for the boost in subscriber base.
Apart from helping develop the preliminary elements of the project such as the expectations, risks, preferred approaches and deliverables in partnership with the technical and business development departments, project managers have also been active in directing and coordinating different layers of the execution, monitoring and control phases. The result has been a very reliable presentation of deliverables – facilitating all-round stability in the voice and data transmission and a wide range of diversified products and offerings for subscribers.
Of course you realize that Etisalat is a late-comer in the market and needed to gain ground very quickly in order to stand any real chance of competing meaningfully with the other telecom companies. It had to build and activate cell sites in as many strategic locations across the country as possible. Considering the need for effective execution, monitoring and control of the cell site construction processes, project managers have proved useful to the company in ensuring that timelines are met, and also that the deliverables are such that keep within the budgets of the company and saves cost over the course of the network roll-out. It has remained an ongoing process; cell sites and base stations are still being constructed across the country at a faster pace than any other network. Project managers have been at the vanguard of this process at every stage – playing roles in identifying appropriate sites, interfacing between the communities/agents and Etisalat’s management, and generally overseeing the entire project within the often strict budgets and deadlines.
3.2.2. UTILISATION OF PROJECT MGMT IN MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT DELIVERY
Subsidiary questions to accomplish this research objective:
- a. Which project management methodology has your company adopted?
- b. Why was this methodology chosen and how would you its efficacy in enabling your company realize its corporate objectives and implements its strategies?
- c. How are the infrastructure project related processes tailored towards addressing the needs of both the customers and stakeholders?
- d. What kind of risks are you anticipating in ensuring the implementation of effective project management?
The adopted project management methodology is known as prince2, i.e. Projects in Controlled Environments 2. It is a very popular method among project management professionals especially because of the way it permits project managers to oversee different aspects of projects at the same time using the dame management platform. A particularly useful feature of this methodology for our work as project managers in Etisalat is that it helps divide large projects into different stages for easy manageability and control. As such the technical and business aspects of projects can be divided and managed simultaneously while everybody involves still works towards the common objectives set down by Etisalat (R1)
Quality of service is a very important consideration in our project management processes – both at the technical level of achieving high performance levels for data flows, and at the management level of ensuring efficiency and integration of diverse processes to eventually lead to enhanced service quality. How this process works in our infrastructure projects is closely linked to the competent implementation of Prince2 through-out the course of the inter-linked stages. In fact Prince2 is very central in projects pertaining to quality management, and it helps us address the problem of quality within the framework of the MPD [Managing Product Delivery] process. It is through this thorough process that most of Etisalat’s industry leading product offerings, and the company’s acknowledged superior network quality materialises.
….Again, through the MPD process, Etisalat has managed to comply with all NCC requirements pertaining to quality of service, and this is evident in the excellent relations between the company and the regulatory commission. (R1)
Prince2 is a very important methodology for the kind of work we do for Etisalat. Although it facilitates almost every stage of an infrastructure development project, it is especially useful in managing product delivery and in closing projects – which are very critical aspects of the entire process. For example the product-based approach to planning made possible by this methodology has enabled the project managers to devote equal attention to the different segments of Etisalat’s product offerings ranging from the pre-paid and post-paid platforms to data services and BIS [Blackberry Internet Service] offerings. The infrastructures that support these services are well managed by the project management team on a concurrent basis, in line with the objectives of the company to provide industry-leading standards. (R2)
….The implication of such defaults in the schedule is that costs may rise considerably, requiring the company to approve a contingency budget to deal with the cost risks. Added to these are risks associated with legal disputes on land ownership (for cell site projects) and similar challenges posed by sometimes problematic relations with local communities and regulatory authorities. There is the problem of how to manage the demands of conflicting interest groups who may want compensation before permitting projects to commence in certain locations where infrastructure such as base stations and cell cites are meant to be installed. Indeed all of these complex risks generally contribute to the schedule and cost risks I earlier talked about. We sometimes find that resolving the issues with local communities and obtaining regulatory permission for certain projects may take longer than normal, and this invariably leads to delays which also lead to cost overruns (R2)
The Nigerian telecoms market is a very challenging one for a number of reasons – part of which is the very intense competition among service providers. At Etisalat, the project management framework is definitely made aware of these challenges, and so infrastructure projects and related processes are generally geared towards ensuring that Etisalat’s customers are better off than those of other service providers in the industry. Doing this involves a product-based approach to project planning and implementation, and the company’s project managers find the Prince2 methodology to be very effective in overseeing these processes from the planning to the implementation stages (R3)
The processes involved in infrastructure projects for Etisalat are geared towards effective risk management while also paying attention to excellent project implementation in order to enhance value for the end user and other stakeholders. There is a very open line of communication between Etisalat’s management and the project managers handling different projects across the country. Where problems arise (especially problems that may lead to increased costs or delays in project completion), we are encouraged to report the situation honestly rather than attempt to cut corners just to stay on course with the deliverables. This is further enhanced by the effective and competent deployment of Prince2 which allows other aspects of the project to continue while the problematic aspect is collaboratively dealt with. The result is that quality and integrity of infrastructure projects does not suffer – regardless of the risks or challenges that may arise in the process. This way, Etisalat is able to keep its promises to customers and stakeholders, while concrete solutions are devised to manage risks as they are identified (R3)
3.2.3. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE.
Subsidiary questions to accomplish this research objective:
- a. As a project manager at Etisalat Nigeria, what do you consider your main roles and responsibilities during the delivery of infrastructure projects?
- b. How does your company select investment/infrastructure projects for its project portfolio to ensure successful implementation of the corporate strategies and goals?
- c. Given your experience and expertise in project management, what do you think needs to be done to further optimize on the mobile infrastructure and improve on the delivery of infrastructure project in your company?
My main roles and responsibilities are quite wide-ranging, as defined by Etisalat of course. Part of what I do here as a project manager also includes managerial and technical aspects. For instance I participate in defining project scope, objectives and deliverables such that support the broader business goals of Etisalat – of course in active collaboration with the company’s senior management and in some cases stakeholders. On the technical side, I also take part in the coordination of internal groups for network equipment engineering, field operations and switch operations. More specific responsibilities also include survey and evaluation of cell sites and supervision of equipment installation processes to ensure compliance with required standards (R1).
We always try to bear in mind that projects are only successful if they help the company achieve its ultimate goals. In this context what other goals can be more important than ensuring the satisfaction of Etisalat’s subscribers and customers? So the selection of projects is certainly done on the basis of the extent to which such projects hold benefits to customers. For instance infrastructure projects that involve the installation of additional GSM cell sites are selected based on need and impact considerations. Factors to consider in this regard include the population around the areas to be serviced by the cell site, the nature and demographical features of the local population, and the cost of operating the cell sites in such locations. Given that Etisalat strives to reach as many customers as possible, cell sites are installed regularly in ever-increasing locations across the country in order to widen the network coverage areas. This way, Etisalat can gradually achieve its objective of being the service provider of choice in Nigeria (R1).
A major challenge that currently affects delivery of infrastructure projects is the attitude of some suppliers or agents and members of certain local communities in areas where such projects are being developed. Sometimes delays by suppliers and agents cause delays in projects as on-site workers may be forced to wait longer than necessary for materials to arrive. There is also the problem of youths who claim represent the communities and sabotage ongoing project installations because they have not duly ‘authorized’ the project – and demand some form of compensation before permitting work to continue. It is therefore important to institute a very effective system for liaising with agents and community representatives on an ongoing basis in order enhance the entire process and promote effective and timely delivery. These issues are currently being addressed in order to enhance Etisalat’s operations (R1).
I am mostly involved in monitoring and control aspects of project management work for Etisalat, with extensive use of the Critical Path Method. The three broad concerns that my job entails have to do with ensuring the timely completion and delivery of projects, ensuring that projects are completed within the set budget, and ensuring that projects deliver clear value to customers and subscribers on the Etisalat network. These tasks are particularly applied to base transceiver stations projects in the south west region of Nigeria. I often travel alongside team-members to monitor the installation of new base stations in states in the region – to ensure that the processes comply with required standards, and determine that there are no issues likely to cause delays in delivery and cost overruns. Where difficulties arise, it is my duty to make a detailed analysis of the nature and extent of such difficulties and report to management for an appropriate action where necessary (R2).
Our duties as project managers do not stop when projects are completed and delivered. There is also the inspection and monitoring aspect of the job which ensures that telecom infrastructures are always operating at optimal capacity at all times, and that customers are able to assess the network for both voice and data services. The largely defective and unreliable nature of Nigeria’s public infrastructures – particularly power supply – makes it even more imperative to ensure constant inspection of the mobile infrastructures to ensure that everything is working well. Any negligence in monitoring the operations of these infrastructures may result in disruptions in the network and thereby lead to customer dissatisfaction. Clearly this is not in line with the goals of Etisalat, and this explains the high level of attention that is paid to monitoring and control functions. It is therefore part of my responsibilities to develop best practices and recommendations for continual and relatively periodic inspection and evaluation of existing mobile infrastructure (R2).
My job mostly involves project risk management and coordination of collaborative efforts with other telecom companies in co-location arrangements. For the risk management aspect, I am involved in management level planning of how risks would be managed in particular projects. After the preliminary planning stage, we also partake in the preparation of mitigation plans detailing how particular risks might best be handled in order to prevent its occurrence or minimise consequences as the case may be. The risk management process also involves maintaining a current project risk database detailing the various elements associated with each risk, and how such each risk might affect Etisalat’s operational efficiency if not appropriately handled….The other dimension of my job as a project manager involves liaising with representatives of other telecom operators to oversee the implementation of co-location or site sharing arrangements. Site-sharing has increasingly become imperative in the industry especially in certain vantage locations where is may be difficult for all the operators to secure and operate their own sites individually. We jointly monitor the infrastructure projects to ensure that cost is saved and risks shared between all the participating operators for the benefit of each party (R3).