FORTNYT SERIES – START-UP #6

The 6th Fortnyt Series hosted so close to the end of the of the year on the 22rd December 2017 under the theme PROJECT PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT was a success as a lot was shared to do with team work, execution of projects and factors to consider before undertaking a project. The Q&A session was paneled by Mr. Muwagunzi Isaac a content Designing and Creation coordinator Educate! Uganda and Mr. Twesigye Keneth delivering a Project Management Master Class Presentation. The Master Class would occasionally pitch in on the Q&A and give his insight basing on his own personal experiences.

The session that started at 6:00pm at TechBuzz Hub main office in Ntinda kicked off with the moderator giving a short overview of project planning. Later, was an interesting communication as the moderator stated was a Christmas Dance entertainment presentation by Paul Bagu a dance fanatic, highly passionate about inspiring the youth through dance as was portrayed in his dance moves and the lyrics in the back ground music which conveyed positive messages about self-motivation, hard work, creativity and much more.

Paul was given an opportunity to showcase his talent and a way for TechBuzz Hub to wish a merry Christmas and happy new year during the Fortnyt Series session.  The series are purely organized to give a platform for the youth to be inspired and inspire other youths to be creative and aspire for more of job creators than job seekers. Some of the message quoted from the background music was a man saying “imagine you’re on your death bed, standing on your bed are the ghosts. The ghosts of the ideas you never acted upon, the ghosts of the talents you didn’t use. Standing around your bed angry, disappointed and upset and say; we came to you because you could have brought us to life they say and I ask you how many ghosts are going to be around your bed”, were some of the positive and encouraging messages passed across.

According to Twesigye, Project Management is an art of initializing, monitoring, planning or finalizing a project in a given period of time, “time is essential” he said. “When we were young, I believe each of us had dreams like, I want to be a pilot, an engineer, doctor, a pope, But, People tend to change dreams when they grow, they change dreams to fit into their situations”. It may be right or wrong depending on over which reasons.

“What is your dream” Twesigye asked, requesting some of the individuals present to say out loud their ten year dream. Majority of the members had some really outstanding dreams mainly about youth empowerment as well as owning businesses “Empowering the youth through inspiring them to work on themselves” said Nkwasibwe Darious consultant Imprint (u) Ltd. “Helping the youth to discover their capabilities” said Gafabusa Aiden volunteer at UCDA. “Heads an organization that leads and empowers the youth to startup”said Okello Daniel student at MUBS.

“Own a big meaningful company” said (Jimmy), “Leading financial experts” Said Akanduhura Desire Technical manager at TechBuzz Hub. “A mother, a wife and a business owner” Said Naigaga Regina HR at TechBuzz Hub. “Relaxing” said Paul Bagu works with youth Impact arguing that within those ten years he would have accomplished all his goals. “Follow up on the projects am currently working on so far” said Khalid

Isaac who was the main speaker of the day works with educate as a design an educate coordinator and has been actively working with educate for the last six years. He mostly works with the youths in leadership and entrepreneurship trainings. Isaac’s ten year dream involves “owning a secondary school and a business empire” he said, ”I want to be holding money that is more than a billion” Isaac added.

Twesigye noted quoting Eleanor Roosevelt The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” if you have a dream better hold onto it otherwise people will take a hold of it and you will work for them forever encouraging the youth to take charge and take action on their dreams.

While explaining Project Management Twesigye said “Dreams are categorized into two; Long-term and Short-term, Complex and Simple”, giving an example of complex and simple goals. He grouped going to the moon under the complex category as “it takes years of planning and execution he explained” and having a birthday party under the simple category. “Marriage falls under the complex category as it’s a life time engagement said Twesigye as opposed to dating which is much simpler all you need is to identify someone  you’re interested in and ask them out” he added.

                            Complex                                                                                      Simple

                             Going to  the Moon                                                                      Birthday

                             Marriage                                                                                       Dating

“Projects have factors that make them become real projects” Said Twesigye. According to Twesigye these factors include; “Time (schedule), cost (budget) quality (performance)” he said. “You want to do a project that won’t require a lot of money but quality, you will need performers. When the scope is huge then it’s a complex project” Twesigye emphasized.

“If there is any over run it affects quality. Cost must be equal to time for you to get the desired quality” Said Twesigye.

Mr. Nkwasibwe Darious who works with imprint (U) Ltd, shade more light on the pyramid. According to Darious ”Most projects are supplemented based on the triple constraints of a triangle” which include “time cost and scope”, with time being at the top of the triangle, cost and scope being on the sides of the triangle and quality being in the center of a triangle.

“These three are the ones that lead you to quality” he said. “If you touch any of the three it will affect quality, if you do, then, what they call a take-off happens “Darious added. For instance if cost for implementation of a project is reduced or affected then the scope for implementation of a project has to be reduced so as not to affect quality.

“If you are given 15million shillings which project would you undertake” Twesigye asked in bid to highlight which projects are worth undertaking and why. 

Before taking on a project Twesigye noted “You must consider cost analysis (how much it will cost), you must consider net present value (how it is valuable at the current situation), you must consider Pay back value (when you will pay back)” He said.

“Projects should be differentiated from routine investments” Twesigye said. “For anything to qualify as a project, it should be unique, should have a complex element, should be time bound, they should be resources oriented” Twesigye explained.

“If we were to take on a project, I would start with land, then follow up with education” said Twesigye, advising individuals to take on projects that bring in returns quickly represented as payback. “You should consider projects that bring back your return at an earlier time” He advised.

Twesigye listed the factors to be considered when taking on a project which included “it should aim at change, need a complexity element, must have stakeholders so that everyone’s effort brings to something bigger. It should have a vision” Said Twesigye. “Projects should either bring out financial gain or social gain” he noted.” If something doesn’t have a time frame then it’s a program” Twesigye said.

Panel Discussion Kick-started.

What were the communication styles you’ve used with your team and challenges in your last project?

When looking at projects you should look at change” said Isaac. “For any project to be a success there should be mutual communication and constant communication, continuous keeping in touch with the team, getting feedback on how the project is running” Said Isaac.

At Educate Uganda we use an online software application as a means of communication “we have a software everything we have designed is put so people can view and give feedback provided they have internet” Said Isaac.

According to Isaac the challenges he and his team face at educate include “Distortion of information. “It passes through along chain of people, regional officer, and mentor”. “Misinterpretation, an assumption   that the way you have presented it will be the way it will be presented” said Isaac.

“As you communicate your material are you sure the language you used will be interpreted the way you intended. Isaac Asked. “If someone is dealing with a simple project to ensure efficient communication there should be mutual respect for another” Isaac Advised.

“Be simple, it doesn’t take away anything from you, what kills business is that the managers a bossy, be simple and find out what issues are happening , be open minded and be able to learn” He continued.

What are some of the times you’ve kept your promise even when that might have been difficult?

“We had embarked on a project and had promised it will be finalized in time but along the way we got some setbacks”. ”You have promised the people you’re working with but you look at the resources are not enough and the person we got to run the project was stolen away from us but we did the best we could, found another person and completed the project” Said Isaac.

“As a project initiator you have to make sure you keep all promises you have made, I believe we need to stick on the promises we’ve made” Isaac Added.

Twesigye Recalls a time he was required to keep his promise “Opened up a canteen people had bought shares the institution divided living a small portion of people to sell to. We had to go back on the drawing table and later gave back exits their initial share capital and its gains then” said Twesigye.

How do you ensure you and your team deliver or exceed customer expectations and maintain customer relationships?

 “One of our core values is to exceed expectations of clients and this is achieved through continuously collecting feedback. We get feedback to realize, is what we are doing really working? Said Isaac. “Feedback is very-very key to ensure there is success in what you’re doing” he emphasized.

Another way Isaac and his team have exceeded customer expectations is through “Continuously learning; you need to ask yourself, is there something we can add Isaac said. Listening to clients and ensuring that all the time you are at the cutting age. Tasking the team to bring ideas, taking risks in line with what you’re doing” Said Isaac. “So we have to be there continuously working, thinking and creating” he noted.

When people hear the word innovate they always think in line with information technology” Said Twesigye.  “Whatever you can add as a new change for improvement in line with your business, something that can create an impact in your society is what innovation stands for” Twesigye added.

What are some of the tools and resources you have used to develop your team?

“Training, continuous training” said Isaac “we continuously train ourselves that’s the most fundamental tool. Mentoring and following up on assignments and also availing resources like reading resources on the internet” he added.

How do you delegate monitor and review the delegated responsibility?

“We use Google drive and all information and assignment is directly sent to their Email through the drive provided they have internet, they are able to access it” Said Isaac.

“We always encourage people in case you have something you’re not sure of to please let us know” Isaac said, quoting his pastor “people will do what you inspect and not what you expect” encouraging people to go to the site whenever they have time and see for  themselves.

What are your project goals for the next six months?

“Sometimes goals are misinterpreted as objectives “said Isaac. “Goals are ‘whats’, what you want to achieve and objectives are ‘hows’, how you’re going to achieve that goal” Isaac added.

One of his project goals include; “Starting a design training academy, youth business experience for the whole year”. How to manage a project, how to brand, how to start those are the major key goals people should look out for according to Isaac.

“We have a goal in the next three years to mentor and support 50 start-ups every year “for some people it’s unrealistic to us its very realistic” Twesigye said.

“The next 6months we want this place (TechBuzz Hub) to be filled with you(engaged in startups), come check out this place in 6months if it’s not filled then we have not met our goal, grow our management structure”Twesigye said. “In your projects you must always plan and access for where you have reached, it gives you an advantage for thinking about your business where it’s going” Said Twesigye.“Always put those goals in place and see where you have reached day after day, month after month” he added.

 How do you set goals for your team and how do you track these goals?

“Our target is one billion youth by 2024 and broadly impact 4million youth in Africa. How do you get there you consider your long term and short-term goals” Said Isaac.

“Our goal is to run a pilot to see that this thing we want will work! We get feedback if people say it will not work then how do we ensure that this works” Isaac said.

“We sit as a team and we are able to come up with solutions as a team, we have a very efficient communication channel everyone can access the information they need to know.” “Every decision should be communicated to all team members, so that everyone can coordinate with each other” he added.

“Whatever you have started, link everyone, let the communication flow naturally said Isaac. Whoever you have employed take them through an orientation despite their department so that they know the history of the project”. It’s really important to understand the goals of the company even though you’re just an external customer” he added.

”The people on your team should bring value but it’s your goal to task them to bring value” Twesigye supplemented.

Describe some areas in your current project where there is high level of uncertainty how do you track these uncertainties?

We are really looking at completely transforming the education system in Uganda and Africa and that’s quite uncertain because most of these countries don’t have education reforms. We hope as we go along more countries will come on board. The teachers are not ready to borrow our idea, for teachers once their student gets an A or a distinction they are good teachers” Said Isaac.

“All Projects have uncertainties because you’re not sure whether it will work” Said Twesigye “Part of project planning it’s a must to look out for the risks that will help you prepare for uncertainty” he added.

Can you tell us a few scenarios of a time you made a tough decision that eventually backfired?

“I went into business because I was told I can get quick money, I went ahead and invested my saving didn’t do any market research and ended up making a loss” Said Isaac.

The audience was asked to provide a scenario of a time they made a decision that later backfired, Paul from the audience had this to say “I completed campus(university) and did volunteering in a certain organization; that had an idea to charge 150,000sh for students to intern in that organization.  I said no one would pay that money and suggested that they make it free. Their plan backfired when no one paid for their internship” Paul said. Paul’s comment was far from the question as it didn’t backfire on him but it also brings up an important aspect which is communication and respect of ideas or solutions brought up by members during company and team meetings.

Audience questions:

I intend to set up free graphics work shops, how do you get the money? Where are these organizations that offer funding? How do I scale? (Anonymous)

 “It comes back to planning and the ability to sell out your idea. It’s all about designing it the best way possible. However good an idea is people don’t want to invest in something you have not tried out and most importantly are you able to start” Said Isaac.

“For you to have an organization that makes sense, it must have a business model. If you want to start don’t start big” supplemented Twesigye.

“This is our time lets use our motivation to make a difference and the opportunities God has given us, let us use them to help others” were Mr. Isaac’s closing remarks.

Communication is very key in project planning and management, it’s therefore vital when working on a project to keep all the team members in the loop about the progress of the project so that everyone is able to contribute positively towards the development and success completion of the project.

About the Author

I am an enthusiastic and Self-motivated TechBuzz Hub Human Resource Manager with interest in Innovations, writing and working with people.

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