The “Process” Approach to ICT4D Projects

The main discussion yesterday was regarding the reasons for ICT project failures (a wopping 70% according the the World Bank Stats). Well on the ICT4D blog, Richard Heeks did a post about an approach that appears to be more effective in the success of projects. He defines this as a “process” approach, which according to Heeks came about as a reaction to the “blueprint”/top-down approach that we had discussed in class.

The following are five examples of elements that must exist in order for this approach to bring about success:

  • Beneficiary participation
  • Flexible and phased implementation
  • Learning from experience
  • Local institutional support
  • Sound project leadership

Heeks also points out questions that the process approach allows ICT4D practitioners to pose while designing a project:

  • What is the role of beneficiaries throughout the project’s stages?
  • What is the mechanism for changing direction on the project when something unforeseen occurs?
  • What is the basis for learning on the project?
  • What local institutions can be used for project support?
  • What is the nature of project leadership?

So with this information, I find it curious why more people haven’t employed such an approach? Why the continued top-down method when it obviously isn’t working? I guess maybe people are shifting towards approaches like this one, once it is now highly evident that the “blueprint” model no longer works – or never did to begin with. But still, it seems that good intentions end up causing more harm than good, as is the case with many development projects. Hopefully more focus will be given to M&E and project planning, which will in turn help with the success of projects.

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One response to “The “Process” Approach to ICT4D Projects

  • clairedwyre

    Thats very true that many times good intentions do tend to not be sufficient for a successful project, though I believe that they do not cause harm if they are not sufficient. Perhaps the projects do not create any positive benefits, but that does not mean they made negative ones. I believe that these projects should use a bottom up approach as well, though there are definitely some instances and cases where top down have been successful. Interesting points though!

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