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Programme Management in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies

While Project Management is now beginning to be universally understood, the concept of Programme Management is somehow still new to many administrations. However an integrated Programme Management, along with the proper project management of each Programme component, could be they key for a true sustainable development in Africa. Success factors of applying an integrated Programme Management approach, are various. The following short article will overview the main ones, how these help in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and how it can make a difference for a real development in developing countries, in particular in Africa. If we analyze the situation in majority of the EMDEs, most of the times the general goals are clear and shared among Stakeholders and decision makers, as well as a number of projects that are needed to reach that goals. However as decision makers, project sponsors and local communities mostly work in isolated manner, we witness the following:

  1. Projects get stuck in the pipeline or on a general planning phase, due to lack of viable financing strategy;

  2. Similar projects are implemented to cover same needs (in particular when it’s coming to studies or design) by different stakeholders of sponsors: one discipline might have been covered a number of time, but others are still completely under-looked;

  3. Most of the potential beneficial effects of one project to another are failed because the timing is not appropriately planned and also potential savings coming from economies of scale are lost.

In particular, regarding point 1. It is worth adding that, in general, some projects may not be profitable per se, but still create a number of benefits for other potential investments. When things are looked at a Programme Level, it becomes easier to find and calibrate financial strategies to unlock different type of funding for each component, most of the time simply because integration management also allows to put in place better risk management strategies or share risks among stronger parties, which then allows to call in also smaller or private investors. Integration management and strategy alignment means also looking at the time constrain, repositioning certain types of interventions in order to get benefits from some ‘economies of scale’, which also mean saving some of the management costs redirecting these funds to other programme initiatives or to higher quality standards. Operating at a Programme level allows to facilitate these tasks and reduce the amount of energy spent, first of all as another example of ‘economy of scale’ in terms of more effective time management of meeting organization, and mainly because:

  • Some of the programme components share same stakeholders, managing them on a programme level allows to negotiate buy-in from difficult ones, enhancing the perceived benefits that may come from the realignment of single project needs;

  • Allows to integrate in the programme and support single dispersed initiatives by SMEs or local NGOs, otherwise left behind, causing misalignments between certain social categories and Government;

  • It comes with an alignment of Protocols, established in a rational way to facilitate approvals and cutting downtimes, which usually encourages private investors;

  • Uplifts communication among stakeholders, otherwise working as silos, with beneficial effects also to other programmes or external projects.

In particular, the alignment of protocols and standard procedures, throughout all the components of the programme facilitate the comprehension of certain PM tools, processes or phases also by who is not familiar with certain instruments facilitating de facto the Capacity Building and Communication. This facilitates enormously also the overall governance of the programme and good governance practices aid the cooperation among government bodies increasing trust in local administration and therefore promoting stability. In this scenario risk management becomes more effective and issues are resolved before they become problems. Furthermore, some risks can be shared among different stakeholders, o transferred to stakeholders who have more leverage and effective possibility to solve the issue or prevent from the event from happening. A programme brings constantly stakeholder to work together, aligned for common strategies, which reduces the risks of project interruptions or dangerous resistant attitudes that may cause the premature end of the Project. Dialogue between stakeholders and government bodies also promotes political stability, which is one of the main risk factors that private investors identify in investing in EMDEs. [ref. PMI Africa 2019, Growth in Africa Made Possible by Project Managers, 9 - 11 September 2019. Programme Management as key success factor to development initiates in Zanzibar, Cei Chiara]

By Chiara Cei Ph.D PMP - Director Heritage Regeneration - Zamani

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