Programme risk management : challenges and proposed solutions
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Programme management is increasingly being used by organisations to deliver strategic change. Consequently, the importance of programme risk management to support programme management in the delivery of capital infrastructure initiatives in the public and private sectors is now widely acknowledged. However, implementing the principles of programme risk management presents challenges that differ from those of the more researched area of project risk management. The aim of the present research was to explore the literature on programme risk management challenges and report those experienced in southern Africa, with the ultimate aim of proposing possible solutions. To reach this objective, three research studies were conducted. The first study (Article 1) was a qualitative exploratory investigation on programme risk management challenges based on a review of the literature, followed by semi-structured interviews with programme management practitioners on their perceptions of these challenges. Inductive thematic analysis of the study data led to the creation of a literature- and practitioner-informed risk culture-based model of these challenges in southern Africa. This model provides a novel diagrammatic view of the relationship between programme risk culture, programme risk management execution, and programme risk management maturity. The model further facilitates a holistic understanding of programme risk management demands, the satisfaction of which is expected to assist with the successful delivery of programmes. The model and its accompanying codebook provide a framework and a tool for (1) academics to position and structure programme risk research and for (2) programme risk practitioners to evaluate their management practice. This led to the second study (Article 2), which followed a quantitative, descriptive approach. The purpose was to identify priority areas for improvement of southern African programme risk management challenges, based on the ranking of these challenges as identified from the first study’s model. A professional association serving project managers in southern Africa provided access to its members, who represented different economic sectors. A total of 42 survey responses were analysed and provided a new, data-informed ranking of programme risk management challenges. Programme risk management skills demanding improvement were identified as the principal needs to be addressed in order for programme risk management to be able to be enhanced in the region. The third study (Article 3) was a qualitative exercise aimed at exploring ways to address challenges related to programme risk management skills in southern Africa. It was based on a review and analysis of the skills-related literature, followed by semi-structured interviews to examine specific skills required to improve programme risk management in organisations. Purposeful sampling was used to select 15 interviewees with programme management experience across different southern African economic sectors. Inductive reflexive thematic analysis of the study data led to recommendations for areas of the skills improvement sought, and the creation of a programme risk management specification framework. Addressing these skills challenges in the subcontinent requires both training and non-training interventions. The programme risk management specification framework developed in this study allows for the proper definition of programme risk management within individual organisations, and measures to improve these management skills across a range of sectors. Recommendations are made for programme risk management research and practice in future.
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