Original Research

Lessons learnt on implementing project management in a functionally-only structured South African municipality

C. J. Brown, M. C. Botha
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 36, No 4 | a639 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v36i4.639 | © 2018 C. J. Brown, M. C. Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 October 2018 | Published: 31 December 2005

About the author(s)

C. J. Brown, University of Stellenbosch Business School, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
M. C. Botha, University of Stellenbosch Business School, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Abstract

This paper reports on the most important lessons learnt from the implementation of project management in a South African district municipality. These lessons demonstrate how difficult it is to gain acceptance of project management in an organisation; more specifically when it has no previous exposure to integrative cross-functional structures and work methods. The paper aims to create awareness that organisations should not jump into project management precariously, but with a well developed project plan. This is done through the discussions of a dozen problematic situations that surfaced during the case, as well as the corrective actions that were taken. Some of these problems were indeed confirmations of the implementation team’s research during the preparatory phase of the implementation project. Although the implementation of project management was found to be not well researched, such research is highlighted were applicable. These problematic situations varied widely. The most important ones to address included inter alia, that the implementation should be a project in own right, a need for firm top management commitment, a strong resistance to change that was encountered, having to deal with the challenges to the de facto organisational culture, structure and systems, the need to establish security for clear career paths in project management, and the necessity for a sound and supportive change management process.

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