Managing By Project with Davis & Dean

Managing By Project with Davis & Dean

Practical project management experience is difficult to gain in a classroom. Ideally, we would like our project management teams to have prior experience however, this is not always possible.

Davis & Dean, project management training experts, have developed Managing By Project (MBP), an extensive workshop where students are able to navigate through online project management scenarios, combining both the science and art of project management.

i-Fundi has partnered with Davis & Dean to give students a holistic training experience when completing their Project Management NQF 5 qualification. The three-day workshop is built into the 12 month programme where students take the concepts and principles taught and put them into practice.

MBP is a simulation of actual management processes programmed in artificial intelligence allowing participants a complete, realistic experience. Projects unfold differently based on each learner’s decisions upon randomised situations. Learners have a realistic experience applying the principles of project management.

The MBP workshop achieves the following outcomes:

  1. Core Skills Integration: –
    Integration of leading, managing and team work as learnable soft skills that each student develops.

    • Leadership: Building strong relationship with relevant stakeholders to later leverage off;
    • Management: Planning, organising and controlling project approach with a time-phased and task-oriented approach;
    • Teamwork: Introduction to science of teamwork and develop teamwork skills for a high-performance team.
  2. Project Fundamentals: –
    Fundamental project planning tools.

    • Project definition: defining the scope of work;
    • Task List: tasks to achieve project objectives;
    • Work breakdown structure: List of tasks are grouped or ordered;
    • PERT: Relationships between the tasks are defined and the critical path found;
    • Gantt: project timeline developed from PERT diagram, start to finish.
  3. Analytical Techniques: –
    Applying analytical techniques during the iterative process of planning, executing and monitoring and control to overcome project deficits and take advantage of opportunities.
  4. Stakeholder Plan:
    Identifying stakeholders and their interest and influence to develop a stakeholder plan which then is implemented through workplace simulation.
  5. Communication Plan:
    Developed alongside stakeholder plan, followed through project implementation.
  6. Human Resource Planning: –
    Ensure optimal usage of available resources through a levelling exercise.
  7. Financial Plan: –
    The human resource plan together with additional budgetary items are developed into a financial plan using a bottom up and top down process.
  8. Project Implementation: –
    Planning reports are generated, results analysed and control tools updated on a weekly basis.
  9. Project Reporting: –
    Effective project reporting from task managers to projects teams, thereon to management.
  10. Project Controls: –
    Additional control tools are introduced for maximum effect.
  11. Risk Management and Contingency Planning: –
    Integrating risk management and contingency planning exercise.
  12. Project Management and Leadership: –
    Level, timing and influence of management and leadership principles.
  13. Project Monitoring and Control: –
    Key Performance Indicators established are used in managing the monitoring and control processes.
  14. Project Closure: –
    Complete necessary administrative duties and prepare final project report.

A helping hand goes a long way!

There is a saying by James Keller which says, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”.

Siphiwe Ngwenya (23) is a prime example of a young man who has risen above the challenges he’s faced in life, not solely of his own doing, but through the care and help of several guiding hands.

After graduating with an NCV certificate, Ngwenya was faced with a financial stumbling block, which meant his hopes of enrolling to a higher education institution were somewhat derailed.

He chose to remain undefeated by the predicament, and applied for what would be his first job, in 2012 at a UTI Warehouse. It was through this opportunity which the young man heard about African Bank’s learnerships.

“The turning point in my life was when I actually completed my 12 months learnership via I-Fundi Customer Solutions and became permanently employed by African Bank as supervisor, from being a consultant”, he says.

“When I think of people who have shaped my life, outside of my mother, I think of a woman called Ros Rome, who worked as a facilitator at i-Fundi. I admired Rome’s work ethic, and the woman encouraged me to have a target driven mentality. I have carried what she taught me to this day”, he says.

“I looked up to my facilitator because she believed in my abilities and made me believe that I could achieve- and so I did”, he continues.

African Bank’s Learnership Manager, Karmini Pillay (28) has been employed at African Bank for five years.

Pillay, in her position as Learnership Manager recognises the importance of being a mentor to the pupils, as she herself was groomed by another to finally take up the position of Learnership Manager and facilitator.

“I had a wonderful mentor whom I admired deeply and will forever be indebted to”, she explains. That woman was so strong, yet soft – in a motherly and nurturing manner. Her name is Esmë Britz. She absolutely changed my life and career path, as I became her successor when she left the post”, she says.

“At African Bank, learnerships have become entrenched in the company as the only way in which we recruit our employees”, says Pillay.

Pillay says that African Bank launched the unemployed learnership programme in 2011 and it has been a, major success. “Not only do learnerships lower the company’s attrition rates, and contribute to the unemployment rate in the country at large, the very good news is that – of the pupils who go through our learnerships, we have recorded an average of 77% hire rate through the years”, she says.

“I love the fact that as a company, we are invested in community growth. Learnerships are not just an easy way to increasing our BEE scorecard, – to the contrary. We implement strategies which will shape the future of South Africa. Beyond that, I love waking up knowing that I will be a mentor- a positive guide in someone else’s life”, she concludes.


Stand a chance to win a bursary with i-Fundi!

i-Fundi would like to offer a learnership bursary to one deserving person. You are invited to submit a motivational letter of no more than 350 words, motivating why you should be awarded the opportunity to be placed in a learnership with one of the host employers in our database.

Three lucky winners will be announced and placed in a 12 month learnership. The announcement will be made on Monday, August 31, 2015. i-Fundi staff will be in contact with the three winners who best motivated their reasons why they should be selected as winners.

Email the motivational letter to: nyeleti@i-fundi.com.




On Track for Growth

On Track for Growth

The contact centre industry is one of the few sectors of the economy that has been creating jobs in the last few years. Over 100 000 jobs have been added to the economy between 2003 and 2008.

Even though the growth of the industry has slowed down recently, finding good people is still a challenge. Leading companies have taken the currently reduced workload as an opportunity to explore more cost effective ways to attract and develop talent. The success of such programmes suggests that the time has now come to increase their scale so that the industry continues to have the people it needs to grow.

During the boom years preceding the recent recession, many contact centre managers preferred looking for experienced agents that could be hired with little lead times and who were ready to perform the moment they arrived. Hiring and developing people was done with little foresight, mostly in response to operational pressures. The poaching of staff was a common practice – agents would change jobs for only a small increase in salary.

This has changed. Most contact centres report reduced attrition rates. In the current economic climate employees are far more concerned with job security and no longer move around to the extent they used to. Companies, which want to hire good people, have no choice but to develop their own people or as a manager put it, Lto grow their own timber”. Nearly 90% of the company’s surveyed will recruit staff with no prior experience.

The development of people is high on the agenda of companies, the industry and government. Pilot programmes, such as Monyetla or SETA learnerships aimed at introducing new talent into contact centres have been enthusiastically adopted and have received positive feedback. Over 56% of the respondents do currently run learnerships. 87% of which are considered to be a success. Given the incentives offered by government this is no surprise:

  • Salary savings: Company can significantly reduce their salary bill. A learner allowance typically is R1500 per month.
  • Tax breaks: Government offers a tax break of up to R60 000 per learner which means a company pays up to R 16 800 less tax per learner.
  • Generous training grants: The recruitment and training of these learners can often be funded through grants.
  • Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE): If structured properly a company can earn up to 15% of its BBBEE score from learnerships.

In essence, a learner comes at no costs to a company if grants are available. Learners are highly motivated individuals who appreciate the opportunity of employment and typically match more experienced agents in terms of retention and are on par in terms of performance within three months.

As the results from this study show, most of these programmes are implemented as mature partnerships between the in-house and external training providers. There seems to be a clear understanding of each stakeholder’s strengths. External providers offer mainly generic training that meets the onerous standards set by the SETAs. 78% of external providers are therefore SETA accredited. In-house training on the other hand focuses primarily on company specific issues and therefore does not need to be accredited. Only 31% of in-house training is accredited.

Training is not only limited to new agents. Contact centres spend at least one day a month training their existing staff. Almost 50% of all contact centres are concerned with providing their agents with a formal industry qualification through Recognition of Prior Learning programmes.

A ladder of learning of formal qualifications exists across progressive levels on the National Qualifications Framework that matches the career path of an agent progressing to the level of supervisor, and then manager. This bodes well for the professionalization of the industry and will, in the long-term, alleviate the current shortage of qualified supervisors and managers.

This report clearly shows that the major pillars for the sustainable development of talent in the industry are in place. The challenge now is to roll out these programmes on a larger scale, which will require an increase in funding available for such initiatives and the continued collaboration of the industry, the SETAs and government.

The contact centre industry is committed to develop its staff. A request for proposal by the industry association BPeSA for the development of entry-level agents and supervisors was oversubscribed by a factor of ten in early 2009.

This is all good news for the country. Companies need well-trained agents that serve their customers well. The industry is able and willing to absorb many of the country’s school leavers, a sector of society bedeviled by unemployed.

The industry has proven its ability to make a contribution to the development of South Africa. It has doubled in size and created over 100 000 positions from 2003 to 2008. Considering that the industry often serves as a springboard for other careers, the number of people who found their first job in a contact centre is therefore actually much higher.

The prospects for continued growth are positive. Customers need to be served even in a recession. Contact Centres will continue to grow as they are one of the most direct and cost effective ways of interacting with customers. South Africa’s chances of attracting international outsourcing work are better than ever. Telecommunications costs are dropping and several of the world largest outsourcers such as Genpact, Teleresources, Teletech and Aegis, have already set up local operations, which is will attract others.

The challenge now remains for the industry to remain proactive and mobilize the necessary resources to scale up many of successful skills development initiatives so that it will not be caught off-guard when new staff are required as growth accelerates.

BPeSA industry survey bodes well for entry-level contact centre learnerships

Based on a recent proposal rolled-out by industry association BPeSA, a profile of respondents encompassing companies, staffing-solutions agencies and training stake-holders show that a once prevailing demand for experienced call centre consultants is fast in decline.

The call centre industry is one of a few to have enjoyed consistent growth in job-creation when most industries saw a dwindling demand in the wake of the recession – its placements were doubled in the 100 000 positions filled during a five year run-up to the global economic downturn.

This article highlights three pivotal points raised by the survey:

    1. Finding good consultants is no longer a challenge as it used to be
      What the survey reports is that in recent years, many contact centre managers have resorted to grooming their own talent as opposed to poaching experienced staff in a market that’s prone to moving for slightly higher hourly-rates at a more frequent pace. This has had the effect of minimising attrition and has at once seen more motivated, cost-effective and dedicated entry-level staff preferring to put down their roots and grow with their employers enter the workplace.


  • SETA and Monyetla learnerships are proving to be viable and valuable alternatives
    Such programs which have grown in popularity and preference with many companies (out of the 57% participating, 80% have reported positive feedback). These learnerships are not only introducing the numbers needed for the industry to grow, but candidates who are meeting the same levels of productivity as seasoned, better-salaried consultants within a three month period on average…at a fraction of their pay.



  • Generous training grants are accelerating the professionalism of learnership staff
    In addition to learners entering companies hosting them at low cost, government and affiliate organisations have also seen to it that these learners get up-skilled and developed on a regular basis so as to give them a competitive edge against their more experienced counterpart. This has encouraged them to remain in the industry and build rewarding careers for themselves. It’s not just the industry, respective companies, or learners that are benefiting but countless customers who are in call centre queues for shorter periods and are being satisfied more regularly than was previously the case.