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Project management as key driver of national development

In pursuit of national development, effective project management is a critical success factor. According to the Project Management Institute, ‘”Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. It’s the practice of planning, organizing, and executing the tasks needed to turn a brilliant idea into a tangible product, service, or deliverable.”. Developed countries increasingly acknowledge the pivotal role of project management, reflected in the competitive compensation of professional project managers.

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create unique products, services, or result. It can involve anything from the glamorous events of Fashion Week to humanitarian aid efforts overseas. More specifically, a project is a series of structured tasks, activities, and deliverables that are carefully executed to achieve a desired outcome.

Abandoned projects in Nigeria have not only led to financial loses but also represent missed opportunities for societal advancement and economic growth. This can be prevented by projects being managed by professional project managers. Whether in construction, healthcare, or social interventions, rigorous project management practices ensure that projects stay on track, delivering intended benefits to communities.

The definition of project scope involves comprehensive requirement gathering to outline what needs to be achieved. By establishing a precise scope from the outset, project managers can mitigate scope creep—uncontrolled changes in a project’s scope. This clarity helps in setting realistic expectations and provides a roadmap for project execution.

Task scheduling and time management are prioritized in project management. Tools like critical Path Analysis (CPA) and Gantt charts are essential in this regard. CPA helps identify the sequence of critical tasks that determine the minimum project duration, while Gantt charts provide a visual timeline of the project schedule. Using these tools, project managers can allocate resources efficiently, identify potential bottlenecks, and ensure adherence to timelines, thereby avoiding unnecessary delays.

Project managers employ robust cost management strategies to monitor expenditures and prevent budget overruns. Quality assurance measures are implemented to guarantee that deliverables meet predefined standards. This dual focus on cost and quality enhances stakeholder satisfaction and trust, ensuring that projects deliver value.

Project managers facilitate open channels of communication among team members and stakeholders, ensuring transparency and alignment of expectations. Effective stakeholder engagement fosters collaboration, secures buy-in, and minimizes conflicts. Regular updates, feedback sessions, and stakeholder meetings are crucial for maintaining engagement and addressing concerns promptly, thus enhancing project outcomes and sustainability.

Efficient resource management is critical in optimizing project performance. This involves the strategic acquisition, allocation, and utilization of resources—whether human, financial, or material. Effective resource management ensures that resources are used responsibly and efficiently, minimizing waste and maximizing productivity. Furthermore, effective procurement practices ensure that goods and services are acquired at the right time, cost, and quality, contributing to overall project efficiency.

Project management integrates proactive risk management strategies to anticipate, assess, and mitigate potential threats. By identifying risks early in the project lifecycle, managers can implement contingency plans and safeguards to protect project objectives and minimize disruptions. Risk management involves continuous monitoring and adaptation to changing circumstances, ensuring that potential issues are addressed before they escalate.

The government should establish dedicated project management offices (PMOs) within government agencies to standardize project oversight, enhance accountability, and optimize resource utilization. By institutionalizing project management practices, governments can mitigate the risks of project failure, promote sustainable development, and maximize socio-economic impact.

Project Management remains key to national development. . Project management principles offer a structured approach to addressing the challenges of abandoned projects and inefficiencies. By institutionalising these practices, fostering stakeholder collaboration, and prioritizing efficient resource management, Nigeria can ensure that projects deliver their intended benefits, driving national development and improving the quality of life for its citizens

Kenechukwu Aguolu,

Abuja, Nigeria