Ministries of Education are basically functionally organized bureaucracies involved in mostly day-to-day operational activities. Projects are generally foreign to them and the staff does not have experience with managing large projects. International lending agencies often require these ministries to set up small project management units in a matrix type organization to oversee the implementation of projects that could range in size from US$10 million to US$50 million. The average project would have a variety of components including "hard" components like school construction and "soft" components like curriculum development and teacher training.
The World Bank requires certain procedures including semi-annual progress reports. In the past year the World Bank has introduced new requirements to provide greater control over accounting and disbursement called the Loan Administration Change Initiative (LACI). In this project one of the components was training and systems development and the authors worked on a consulting basis to design and install a total Project Management Information System to manage implementation and to meet the new requirements of LACI.
Definition of Requirements
The first step in any systems development effort is to define the requirements of the system. In this case we discovered that a high percentage of the activity on the project was the procurement of a wide variety of products as well as construction of two high schools and development of new curricula and testing systems. Attached, as Figure 2 is a list of components from the Project Report, which served as the top level WBS for the project.
Education Project – WBS:
- Corporate Planning
- General Administration
- Curriculum Development
- Education Materials Preparation
- Education Testing & Measurement
- School Supervision
- New School Construction
Figure 2: List of WBS components from World Bank Report
One key requirement was to develop a critical path based project plan and schedule (CPM) for the entire project. A sample is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Project CPM Schedule
CPM however excellent for complicated and inter-related activities is not efficient and effective for planning and control of procurement that consists of a series of simple sequential steps. We also identified the training needs and developed a series of training efforts based on these specific needs. Another requirement was to assist the project manager and project team in how to be successful in a matrix type organization with complete responsibility and limited direct authority.