Bureaucracy can be a hindrance to conducting business in not only South Africa, but globally. While bureaucracy is necessary and will always exist, processes that shackle a project as opposed to serving it should be challenged on an ongoing basis.
One of the best ways to manage the impact of existing bureaucracy on projects, intended to increase the competitiveness of a business, is to appoint someone on a project team to deal specifically with bureaucratic issues. This will help the project to deliver better value by not allowing bureaucracy to constrain it.
In my opinion, a company’s business purpose, its competitiveness, and its ability to serve its customers efficiently, should take precedence over the bureaucratic elements of the traditional management structure.
Some businesses simply follow a process of ticking the boxes when implementing projects; especially business and operations management software projects.
Blindly following such processes and patterns in conducting business can lead to decision paralysis setting in, as many managers have become too used to checking boxes, rather than creative problem-solving.
Decision paralysis is especially prevalent when moving from the scenario planning phase to the project implementation phase of a project.
We often see a disconnect between what is needed for a business and what is allowed to happen by unyielding, previously set bureaucratic procedures. One example of this is when contracts take up to six months to finalise with top management, but is then expected to be implemented in a matter of days by middle management. This gives rise to issues such as compliance being used as a scapegoat by middle management as reason not to pay for project delivery items agreed to by top management.
In those instances the very procedures that were created to protect a business, then becomes the exact thing that places the business in danger by preventing it to become or remain competitive at the rate that is demanded by the modern customer.
My advice is to ensure that the business purpose of the project is properly understood by every single project stakeholder, as all project decisions is then guided by the same understanding.
The reason an organisation exists is its business purpose. While governance and bureaucracy are very important, it should never adversely affect the business purpose or management accountability, or affect competitiveness. Rather, they should be designed and implemented to serve the wider business purpose.