An Investigative Report on the Project Management Competence and Capacity that the State Information Technology Agency should have to support Government

Author: Mtimunye, Mhlabaniseni Moses
Supervisor: Professor Piet Ackermann
Date: March 2010

The pressure for delivery across industries and organisations has been brought to the open discussions around core competence and capacity required to make delivery possible. Government equally needs such competence to ensure that public funds are used most prudently and can be accounted for at all times.

One of the critical competencies and capacity required of organisations is project management, with its associated frameworks and toolsets. This investigative report seeks to assess how SITA can help augment Government’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project management competence and capacity, and, in the process, create for itself a compelling, revenue generating, authentic and credible business function.

The challenge that the South African government has in the ICT space revolves around the number of failed projects (delivered late, budgets overshot and the delivery being less than what Government expected, as articulated in business cases). The challenge here is that Government has not been getting value for money from ICT projects. In some of the delivered projects, it is doubtful whether the proposed business benefits and impact that the business case of the project promised, are being delivered. Examples of some of the projects whose delivery has been questionable, includes eNatis, HANIS, Batho Pele Gateway, City of Cape Town ERP Implementation, CabEnet and Gauteng On-Line, just to mention a few. It must be noted that most, if not all of these projects were led from a project management perspective by consultants that Government had brought in, who, in their own right, have personal agendas that may not be the same as those that Government is pursuing.

The question therefore becomes: “Why is SITA not the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) project management competence and capacity for government? The second question becomes: “What competencies should SITA have in order for it to be accepted to undertake the project management on behalf of government in the ICT space?”

In undertaking this study, it was important for the researcher to be certain of who constituted the correct target population. For this purpose, the target population included all SITA employees at senior management levels, whose job is to engage with clients on an ongoing basis and who are involved in service delivery, with the emphasis being on the delivery of projects. From SITA’s clients’ perspective, the target population included all the Directors General as the Accounting Officers of the departments, as well as the custodians of departmental strategies, the Chief Financial Officers, who in most cases are accountable for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) portfolio, as well as all the Government Information Technology Officers (GITOs) who are responsible for deploying and maintaining ICT for the respective government departments.

The SITA employee sample population comprised one hundred (100) individuals. In the SITA clients’ environment, the sample population included the Government Information Technology Officers (GITOs) of national government departments and those of provincial governments, ten (10) Chief Financial Officers of the different national government departments, as well as ten (10) Directors General of some of the national government departments. The sample population for SITA’s clients comprised fifty nine (59) individuals. The survey questionnaire was initially submitted to twelve (12) participants as a way of piloting it to test its user-friendliness and ease of understanding, and allow for fine-tuning before being administered to the whole sample population. The findings of the survey study suggest that SITA must definitely build a capacity that will be used as the prime systems integrator for the government. However, before this can be executed, there are elements in the internal project management landscape that SITA must address. These include elements in SITA’s project management practice, portfolio management, knowledge management, as well as ICT projects governance. Sufficiently addressing these elements will ensure that the execution of the prime systems integrator is not saddled with formative challenges that could sink even the most determined higher level service provider.