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Date: 2024-02-22 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00003066

Management
Management in the Telecenter Sector

Good management is not an academic analysis of data, but using data, including informal data effectively

COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess

Management in the Telecenter Sector ... Good management is not an academic analysis of data, but using data, including informal data effectively

Management is nothing more than getting to make good decisions that make performance as good as it can be. Some of the best managers I have worked with seemed to know what was best a long time before the rest of us have collected the data and processed it into meaningful reports.

That is not to say that they did not use data and analysis. They just collected data and did analysis in their heads and on the fly.

Good managers know as much as it is possible to know about the work they are doing. In the case of a telecentre, its not just technology, training, sales, accounting, people, market or community needs but it’s abou t everything surrounding the telecentre and impact on its performance.

Managers need to understand critical issues that affect telecentres to which they then make decisions and get the changes made. The issue of sustainability or survival is critical in the development of the telecentre movement.

While I think of sustainability as being able to stay open and do something of enduring value, others may have differing definitions. Staying open means having the resources to keep operating and pay the bills. Value is something that may or may not convert into money, though it can be expressed in form of numerical basis.

Most people understand that there are values that go beyond money or financial transaction ... and in fact these values are the most important driver of progress in socio-economic development.

The metrics of Cost, Price and Value are very important in day to day management and for strategic management. Day to day management helps to keep the telecentre open this day, week and month. Strategic management helps to keep the telecentre open for a long time.

My optimism about telecentre possibilities is based on the underlying costs of modern technology which are incredibly low. The strategic challenge for management is to figure out how technology can be deployed affordably and valuably for rural communities, where infrastructure is absent.

Modern possibilities with ICT are a result of cost reduction driven by technology that is absolutely amazing ... something like an improvement in cost effectiveness over the last 40 years of about one millionfold. Sadly most of the potential social or societal benefit of this has been lost because prices are determined by an investor community that mainly seeks to maximize profit and not much else. In the end, there may be a huge amount of value, but the price of access to this value is only affordable to those with considerable available cash.

Managers in the telecentre world are faced with these sad realities, and have to optimize in the real world. Conventional donors can help to address a telecentre's inability to deliver value at an affordable price. Thus, sustain the telecentre's operation but as long as the donors cooperate. But one would wonder how long this could take.

The technology industry could help ... but this has not happened very much up to now. Public policy could help ... but it has not done its expectation.

The writer is a Co-Founder of the Transparency and Accountability Network and its CEO. www.tr-ac-net.org peterbnyc@gmail.com


By Peter Burgess- NEWYORK
Writter in 2006
The text being discussed is available at
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