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Importance Of Project Management In Mobile Telecommunication Industries In Nigeria

| March 8, 2015

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 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 within Nigeria’s telecom sector. Data obtained was compiled into quantitatively based spread sheets where strong themes emerged.

INTRODUCTION

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. Project management has found its path in the systems and procedures of organizations giving a better way to achieve and accomplish goals (Dietrich & Lehtonen, 2005). Business organizations have started to consider the significant importance of project management procedures that are framed to address individual needs at every level of the organization.

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. Having experienced such tremendous change over time, Globacom Nigeria is poised to improve on its business activities by implementing project management within the core of its operations in a move towards optimizing its functionality.

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.

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). Quantitative research is “used to answer questions about the complex nature of phenomena, often with the purpose of describing and understanding the phenomena from the participants’ point of view” (Cassell & Symon, 1994). With quantitative methods the researcher is able to infer the conclusion through assessing participants’ perceptions and views.

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). Interpretive research requires an understanding and analysis that is induced by the researcher (Britten, 1995). The researcher interacts with the participants to get close to the findings. Experts in the field of research opined that the “inquirer and the inquired-into are interlocked in such a way that the findings of an investigation are the literal creation of the inquiry process”. A qualitative approach means the researcher is a participant with full awareness that Project management is a values-laden process factoring in personal experiences and orientations. The researcher is an instrument in data collection. Therefore, a researcher’s worldview is relevant.

When looking at qualitative versus quantitative methods of data collection, it is obvious that there are advantages and disadvantages associated with each methodology. With quantitative paradigm, the participants are asked identical questions by the researcher in the same order (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975). The response categories to choose from are often fixed or ‘closed-ended’. The advantage of this inflexibility is that it allows for meaningful comparison of responses across the participants and study sites. On the contrary, qualitative research methods are typically more flexible as they allow for greater spontaneity and greater interaction with the study participant (Bryman & Cassell, 2006).

Additionally, the relationship between the researcher and the respondent is often less formal unlike in quantitative paradigm. Participants thus are able to respond in detail and more elaborately than is typically the case with quantitative approaches. 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.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

In order to capitalize and address the limitations of both approaches, a multi method strategy was employed by the research in collecting primary data. A multi-method strategy uses different data collection methods within a single research paradigm. It involves using more than one method but restricted to the methods selected from one world view. 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.

The use of open ended questions (semi-structured interviews) is often employed where the nature of the research questions to be asked is complex, its dimensions unknown and the particular research topic is exploratory (Bryman, 1996). This was the case in this analysis as it involved the project management process, often considered too complex and multifaceted. It is a well-known fact that business nowadays are increasingly relying on project management to ensure their success in the current competitive market environment. However, the integration of project management into the core business operations and daily procedures is in itself complex and requires a whole set of different skills and competencies that are increasingly getting complicated. Perhaps, this complex nature can be attributed to uncertainity, social and legal obligations, multiskilling and team-working among others.

It is in this recognition of the complexity associated with the integration of project management best practices within the mobile telecommunication sector that necessitated the use of open ended questions in order to gain rich insights on the research topic. Many scholars contend that by allowing the interviewee’s to respond in their own words, the salient concerns can be instigated and imposition of predetermined responses can be minimized. According to Yin (1994), open ended questions form an integral part of the interview as the respondents are able to view themselves as informants rather than mere interviewees, thus probing them to give more information.

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. 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.

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.

In this respect, Dalkey & Halmer (1963) identified specific criteria for selecting the respondents in semi-structured interviews. Firstly, the respondents must exhibit high degree of knowledge and experience in the subject matter. Secondly, they should be representative of the entire population in a way that their opinions and suggestions are adaptable or transferable to the major population. The interviewees were thus 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.

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. Essentially, the interview process was intended for 5 project managers in Globacom Nigeria LTD but only three of them showed up.

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. This purpose was determined and explained to the interviewees to give them an understanding of the importance of the interview. The relationship between the research questions and the overall purpose is crucial in any study. Although, the interviewer is normally aware of the reasons for asking a particular research question, these may be unclear to the interviewees. Therefore, respect is communicated to them by giving them an explanation as to why these questions are being asked. This has the impact of motivating the interviewee’s to respond to the research questions more openly and in detail

Before conducting the actual interview, the respondents were ratified of the importance of their opinions and then thanked for their support. The researcher established a rapport with the interviewees and assured them of confidentiality of their data. The interview process comprised of open ended questions tailored towards addressing project management issues within the mobile telecommunication industry. The open ended nature of the questions allowed the interviewees to freely present their ideas, and to share their opinions, knowledge and experience as experts in the field of project management. Each interview was scheduled to last approximately between 30-35 minutes.

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, 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’ operations. The use of open ended questions allowed for additional probing hence gaining richer insights on the research topic. The value benefits of integration of project management in core business operations in organizations 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. 10 questionnaires were issued to a number of 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 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 questions addressed were designed to ensure that they were directly related to the main objective of examining the importance of integration of project management best practices within the core tasks and activities in Nigeria’s telecom sector. The trend of the questions asked within the quantitative questionnaire is as listed below:

Is there any project management process existing in Globacom Nigeria Ltd?

…………………………………………………………………………………………

What model does Globacom employ to ensure project deliverables?

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Are there any project phases in place?

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Which project management processes are currently in place? ………………………………………………………………………………………………

Who is held accountable in ensuring the realization of project objectives?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

What are the financial implications of the integration of project management initiatives within the core operations of Globacom Nigeria Ltd?

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

What guidelines have been put in place to ensure effective project management and quality assurance?

……………………………………………………………………………………………

What role has project management played in establishing business supremacy of the company over its competitors in the mobile telecom sector in Nigeria?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

What are the employees’ reactions to this transition with project management integrated at the core systems and basic procedures of the company?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

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 was based on quantitative questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Primary data which involved semi-structured interviews with 3 project managers and administration of 10 quantitative questionnaires formed an important piece for this analysis.

Secondary research was used alongside with the primary research. Secondary research was employed to ascertain, compare and integrate with primary research for the purpose of comprehensive and logical analysis. Secondary research helped in defining the agenda for subsequent primary research by suggesting which questions required answers that had not been obtained in previous research. A thorough knowledge of secondary information was useful in enhancing the efficiency of primary research method. Secondary data were drawn from independent sources including academic journals, published articles, textbooks, internet sources and project management reports.

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. Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis software package (CAQDAS) was useful in facilitating 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. Exploring on the project management techniques including PERT, GPC and CPM and the various project management methodologies such as prince2 allowed for a concise and comprehensive evaluation of the impact of project management in ensuring project success in Nigeria’s telecom sector.

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. Thus, some of the responses obtained from semi-structured interviews were subject to bias whilst some questionnaires were unreliable and lacked validity. 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.

Ethical issues

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.

 

Research limitations

Some of the limitations that were encountered by the researcher are outlined in this section and they include:

  • Specific individuals not available for interviews.
  • 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.

 

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http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=6&sid=c0e82834-c583-4df2-8de5-0f89dca20406%40sessionmgr13&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d – bib22upDewan, S. (2007).The substitution of information technology for other factors of production: A firm level analysis. Management Science 43 (12): pp1660—1675.

Dietrich, P. & Lehtonen, P. (2005), Successful Management of Strategic Intensions through Multiple Projects – Reflections from Empirical Study, International Journal of Project Management, 23 (5), 386-391.

 

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