Data Evidenced Decisions vs. Hearsay Decisions; Which Way for the Authorities?

Data Evidenced Decisions vs. Hearsay Decisions; Which Way for the Authorities?

T&L is a location firm based in Ntinda, 10km of Central Kampala City. Brian Byaruhanga, the new CEO at the firm almost resigned from the well- paying job just after the first month in office.

Before his job at T&L, Brian had held a similar position at a foreign consulting firm. It is on this basis that the two founding partners of T&C Construction Company deiced to hire him as the new CEO. He was offered a 5 year renewable contract.

At the time of his arrival, the founding partners; Samuel and Gideon had plans of shifting the head office from Nakawa Industrial Area to Ntinda Industrial Area. They immediately approached the new CEO to discuss their idea of shifting head office.

Brian disagreed with Samuel and Gideon at first hand. ‘’There is no way we can shift our office from such a prime location where all our clients are used to.’’ Noted Brian at the top of his voice. He continued, ‘’dear founders, there is one thing you should all know. Changing our office from this place (Nakawa Industrial area) to the new place (Ntinda Industrial area) would definitely mean a reduction in revenue.

‘’Why?’’ asked Samuel. ‘’you see, all our clients are well conversant with our office location. Shifting would result into incurring more costs to advertise in media of the change of location.’’ Answered Brian. ‘’Why do you conclude the firm will incur extra costs?’’ Inquired Gideon.

‘’If we are to succeed, we should not look at the expenses the company will incur. We should look at the opportunities we miss when we remain at the same level. The opportunities in Ntinda Industrial Area are huge. The area is just next to developing places like Kyanja, Kisaasi, Kasangati, and Northern Bypass. The demand for construction materials is extremely high.’’ Argued Gideon.

For any average business executive, they would agree with Brian’s opinion. Most executives think that the costs of shifting to a new location are higher compared to the benefits. But this is hearsay. They do not have facts and data to justify their stand.

To get a clear perspective of decision making the writer interviewed 10 CEOs and PROs from different organizations that had reputable names in business success and upbringing people from different background.

While speaking to Summit Business, Chris Oyet, the CEO Montel Financial Services noted, ‘’When I told my fellow staff that management had decided to office from Kampala Central to Bukoto, they all looked surprised.’’ Irene the senior manager in charge of strategy came to my office. Her gloomy face clearly demonstrated she demanded a lot of explanations from me. Excuse me sir, ‘’why do we have to change our office to Bukoto?

‘’The ever increasing traffic jam, coupled with the high power tariffs, the fluctuating US dollar rate, limited parking space informed management to change office location to a less congested and cheaper place,’’ replied Oyet.

Decision making should be taken from a strategic point of argument. Business executives who rush to take decisions based on hearsay opinions have either ended up into huge financial losses or huge reputation damage to the company. A story is told of a company that invested over Ugx578b in real estate market. Inside sources within the organization revealed that after many consultative meetings, management came up with real estate in office buildings as the best opinion to invest the money. It is said that most of these office buildings have been vacated tenants due to poor strategic locations that are not ideal for office. This money is tied in non- performing assets!

‘’First things first – facts are facts if they can only be proven right. However, some may be doubtful,’’ said Ahumuza, a senior Public Relations Officer at Pitch Consult while in interview with Summit Business. ‘’In other circumstances, decisions may be taken on the basis of available resources. Say, a high end office should be located in a prime area as this builds confidence among the customers. Unfortunately, the owners may not be in position to rent in such a location at that particular time.’’ Added Ahumuza.

Is Data a Priority?

What do you do when faced with a tough decision like which company you should award the contract or location to set up your home? What about decisions that affect the community and probably the whole country?

If you have seen adverts like ‘expression of interest for provision of services,’ one of the requirements is evidence where the consultant has delivered such a service. In practical terms, the entities do not award the contract to the qualified persons. Decisions are taken based on some factors like political motives.

The 2014 census statistics would be the greatest source of data for the country’s planning authorities. The population census statistics would guide in economic planning especially in resource allocation.

According to the 2016/17 national budget, social development is one of the sectors with a lion’s share with a higher funding of Ugx189.3b compared to the Ugx90.2b in the 2015/16 FY. This is good news for the youths since the allocated money will directly impact their lives. However, the Youth Livelihood Program through which the money will be channeled has received its fair share of criticism over effectiveness.

In order to make the program relevant to participants and instantly useful, policy- makers responsible for making decisions which impact our communities and our lives should collect reliable data and conduct critical analysis to solve the youth unemployment problem in Uganda. Ideally, you need to rely on facts and advice from experts to optimize on the available resources.

Uncoordinated decision making.

One famous figure in Kampala once said, ‘’anything in Uganda is possible.’’ And the recent sightings in the city all point to this. This should come as no surprise. In 2014, Google started paving the way for faster internet services through the use of optic fiber cables.

Men digging up Kampala roads were busy planting these cables. But of late, some roads are being worked on. How quickly managers actually make decisions is another discussion for another day.

My observation is focused on pinning down how much government loses in such circumstances.

There is a correlation between planning and decision making. If you intend to widen a road in the nearby future, why not let other companies intending to plant underground pipes or cables in time?

The Challenge

In every single huge government contract, there are funds reported to be missing or stolen. Policy makers take decisions based on political motives. At the same time, people in authority are chosen to these positions not on the basis of competence but who knows who. So, they end up making decisions in order to get the vote of their seniors.

Next Steps.

Overcoming such circumstances, policy – makers should always declare conflict of interest if need be. Decisions makers need to make sure that the decision is not unduly in favor of one or a few. They need to keep in mind that decisions in the public domain need to be egalitarian too. This will ensure minimized loss of public funds.