Complex Made Simple

Execution challenge: Will it drive the GCC toward another economic crisis?

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region is home to many mega projects that promise a bright future for the member nations and wider territory. However, various recent developments such as fluctuation in oil prices, strict austerity measures and global financial uncertainty have impacted the successful execution of many projects in the region.

Many experts feel that there is a dire need to bring a change in the style of working, while giving more freedom to the private sector to ensure timely execution of projects. And at the same time, there should be an end to unnecessary bureaucracy and red-tape in the region.

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“The fundamental change should be in the mindset. There should be focus on productivity and delivery. Megaprojects need careful monitoring and craftsmanship. They also require a professional approach. Unfortunately, bureaucracy is the enemy of progress,” said Khaled Al Maeena, Managing Partner, Quartz-Communication Company, Saudi Arabia.

Biggest hindrance

The majority of the C-suite executives consider poor execution as the single biggest hindrance to growth of their industry. Foremost reason behind execution failure could differ from one industry to another. For example, a construction project could fail due to the lack of skilled resources while an IT project could fail because of impractical scope. Moreover, defining when and why a project fails is also conflicting in this region.

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In a recent survey by PwC, 95 percent of respondents say their projects are running behind schedule, with an astounding 45 percent delayed by over six months. Likewise, 71 percent state that their projects are over-budgeted.

Is it driving toward another recession?

Is execution challenge driving the region toward another economic crisis? Industry leaders feel opposite and say it could be easily overcome. Though execution challenge is one of the major problems plaguing many projects in the region, but industry experts believe that it could be easily conquered through perseverance and proper planning.

Amr M. Khashoggi, CEO, Omar K. Alesayi & Co. Ltd. (OMACO), Saudi Arabia, said, “There are many government-owned businesses slated for privatization, but it requires transparency and a close look at how the ownership is transferred from public hands to private hands. The challenge is in the incumbent human resources, and whether they can adapt to the private sector KPI-driven work environment. However, through training, guidance and sincere employee engagement, this challenge can be overcome.”

Call for better coordination

Gradually leaders have started realizing the correlation between initiatives required to draft a strategy and the need for developing internal capabilities to executive it. They have realized that execution is not a people’s problem but a strategy problem.

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“We are dealing with UAE and Kuwait governments on almost regular basis. There is no lack of will, resources and innovative ideas. We just need to ensure a crystal-clear communications among all stakeholders. The desired goals of the project should be clear right from the beginning. We also have to understand that execution is an ongoing activity and it never stops at any point of time,” said Ahmad Siddiquie, a Dubai-based private consultant, who is active in oil and gas industries.