How Can Technology Accelerate The Much Needed Transparency for Reconstruction Programs?

No one can deny that the Middle East and North Africa region would be requiring trillions of dollars to reconstruct the ailing and damaged infrastructure. Funds will be needed to rebuild roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, universities, housing, commercial centers, utilities, factories among many other projects. Nevertheless, donners and investment agencies will not be willing to fund those reconstruction programs if there a chance that those funds will not be spent on those reconstruction programs. Those donners and investment agencies are obliged to ensure that there is an acceptable return on those investments.

Regretfully, the Middle East and North Africa region does not score high when it comes to transparency. This even gets worse when it comes to capital projects where the chances for committing fraud is much higher due the ineffective fraud prevention adopted measures. According to the Transparency International (TI) index for the year 2016, five of the bottom 10 countries are from the Middle East and North Africa region– Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Syria. Countries where most, if not all, of the reconstruction programs will be needed.

Most of construction projects monitoring and evaluation reports generated in the Middle East and North Africa region continue to be based on manual data feed by different sources and not covering the whole aspects of executing a project. Not only the content of those reports lacks the trust-worthiness and could be manipulated but are only available after the fact where little or almost nothing could be done on the damage caused. In addition, most of those progress reports do not cover the complete aspects of project management needed to monitor and control the execution of projects.

To attract development agencies and investment funds to the much-needed reconstruction programs, governments in the Middle East and North Africa region must enforce the professional project management practices when it comes to managing and delivering those programs. The policy makers need to pass the needed laws and regulations to enforce the adoption of professional project management practices at least in the public sector. The adoption of digital transformation for managing projects delivery can help in accelerating the enforcement of those best practices. Digital transformation will enforce transparency and accountability in capturing projects data as well as ensure real-time single version of the truth when it comes to reporting projects’ performance.

Project Management Information Systems will enforce the automation of every-day project management processes by enforcing the use of pre-defined templates for capturing needed data to manage each process. Thus, eliminating the use of manual forms that not only could be subject wrong data entry, whether by accident or intentional, but eliminating the wasted effort in data capturing and verification. In addition, it allows to electronically store and attach all supportive documents associated with each form. Those systems also allow defining the automated workflow steps to distribute and share the information captured in these forms thus eliminating the lost accountability in sharing, reviewing and approving those project transactions. In addition to those much-needed benefits, automating everyday project management processes will also reduce the thousands of hours spent in completing, distributing, tracking and searching for project communications by more than 50%.

In addition to the improved transparency, accountability and governance in managing the different project processes, project management information systems ensure that all of this data is captured in single database repository. Thus. eliminating the high risk of having projects’ data stored in fragmented databases that will disable knowing the impact of the different project management processes on each other. Of course, this excludes again the wasted effort in compiling, reviewing and analyzing those data silos as well as the delay in reporting and sharing this information. It is reported that organizations are wasting more than 60% of their management resources to manually compile, review, analyze, report and share projects’ performance information. Those systems will provide the project stakeholders with real-time single version of the truth monitoring and evaluation of projects’ performance to give them the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.

The benefits of digital transformation are not limited to improved transparency, accountability, governance and real-time single version of the truth reporting but also it provides the many benefits associated with big data. The everyday data captured by project management information system across the many managed and delivered projects, provide the organization with unmatched source of knowledge that can be used to analyze, compare and correlate performance trends as well as well build a repository of lessons learned that will help in better managing risks and issues that usually results in projects’ failure.

Although the adoption of technology in managing and delivering projects will not bring miracles in providing the much-needed transparency for reconstruction programs, but for sure it will accelerate the adoption of project management best practices needed by donners and investment agencies to improve transparency, accountability, governance and real-time single version of the truth projects’ performance reporting.