Effective Project Cycle Management: Overview, Design and Implementation

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1 Effective Project Cycle Management: Overview, Design and Implementation ti Hawassa, Ethiopia 7-10 March 2011 Session Objectives Understand the project cycle and discuss processes and outputs related to each stage. Focus on two common implementation challenges: USAID quarterly reporting and final evaluations. Exercises 2.1 Project Cycle Design 2.2 Quarterly Report Review 1 1

2 The Project Cycle 2 Common Project Cycle Elements Closing Initiating Monitoring i and Controlling Planning Executing 3 2

3 Catholic Relief Services Project Cycle 4 The Project Cycle: Planning Processes: Stakeholder Analysis Performance Management Planning Outputs: Performance Management Plan o Results Framework o Performance Indicator Reference Sheets o Performance Data Table o Calendar of Performance Management Tasks 5 3

4 The Project Cycle: Implementation Processes: Daily management Data collection Data analysis Communication & Reporting Outputs: Project Deliverables Internal Reports Quarterly Donor Reports Annual Reports and Action Plans Financial Reports 6 The Project Cycle: Mid-term Evaluation Process: Mid-Term Evaluation Output: Evaluation Report 7 4

5 The Project Cycle: Final Evaluation & Close Out Processes: Final Evaluation Communication & Reporting Project Closeout Outputs: Final Evaluation Report Final Donor Report 8 The Project Cycle Advantages Facilitates planning Aligns with donor expectations Links learning from one project into the design of another Disadvantages Displays events as sequential, even when they are not Has little relevance for beneficiaries 9 5

6 Exercise 2.1 Project Cycle Design Objective: Reflect on the cycle of operations within your organization and identify ways to use this cycle to drive improvements in overall program quality. Instructions: Using the materials provided, sketch a diagram of your organization s project cycle. Label the key stages. Make sure your diagram reflects the current reality of project management in your organization. 10 Focus Area 1: Quarterly Reports 11 6

7 How does having a robust quarterly reporting system improve overall program quality? 1. Provides a structure that facilitates regular reflection: Evaluates actual project performance against plans Refines project model as it evolves 2. Promotes regular communication with project stakeholders Maintains regular contact with donor Shares information back down to the field level 3. Improves efficiency of later stage project documentation, such as annual reports, workplans, final evaluations and future project designs 12 Five Tips for Outstanding Reporting 1. Do not be afraid to tell the truth. There will be unforeseen challenges. Use reports to demonstrate your ability to analyze and solve problems. AOTRs are on your side; let them help troubleshoot problems. 13 7

8 Five Tips for Outstanding Reporting 2. Develop a reporting calendar and timeline. Review reporting requirements and create a checklist of deliverables and deadlines. Ensure that all staff and any subrecipients are aware of the timeline, due dates and their responsibilities. Consider the reporting schedule when planning key reflection events, staff meetings and field visits. Consider holidays, weekends and programmatic priorities when developing the reporting schedule. Factor in time for several rounds of reviews. 14 Five Tips for Outstanding Reporting 3. Engage g subrecipients early. Allow time for subrecipients to provide meaningful input. Take the time to build capacity in self-reflection aspects of reporting. 15 8

9 Five Tips for Outstanding Reporting 4. Tell a consistent story across all of your reports. Ensure consistency between financial and performance reports. Use your workplan and budget as baseline data sources. Remember that your reports tell a story over the life of the project, and they are the formal record of your work. Preview your next workplan. 16 Five Tips for Outstanding Reporting 5. Do not surprise your AOTR or Agreement Officer. Reports are not the primary means of communication with your donor. Discuss major challenges first with your AOTR, then document them in your report. 17 9

10 Quarterly Reporting Dos and Don ts Do Submit reports on time. Explain deviations from budgets and workplans. Include photos and success stories if possible. Do Not Make requests (extensions, budget modifications, equipment purchases, etc.). Ask questions of the donor or AOTR. Introduce crises or critical issues. 18 Exercise 2.2 Quarterly Report Review Objective: To facilitate dialogue between AOTRs and DGP Grantees around quarterly reporting and identify ways to strengthen th those reports. Instructions: Please review your most recent quarterly report at your tables in collaboration with your AOTR. Use the suggested reflection questions in the handouts to guide the review process

11 Focus Area 2: Final Evaluations 20 USAID s New Evaluation Policy Our overall goal with the new policy is to increase the validity and transparency of our evaluation findings and the use of those findings to inform decisions and improve the effectiveness of development programs. - Ruth Levine, Director of Evaluation, Policy Analysis and Learning, January 28,

12 Key Features of the New Evaluation Policy Distinguishes Performance Evaluation from Impact Evaluation In most cases, the evaluations will be external (i.e., a thirdparty contractor or grantee, managed directly by USAID, will evaluate projects) Frequency of evaluations will vary by evaluation type 3% of USAID program funds are allocated to support evaluations 22 How will this new policy affect my organization? The policy is new, and details will emerge as USAID Missions begin implementing it. Funding may be dedicated within a project design for implementing partners to engage in evaluative work for their own institutional learning or accountability purposes. It appears to signal a tremendous influx in resources for evaluations with the potential to benefit a multitude of stakeholders

13 Suggested Guidelines for Managing External Evaluations Phase 1: Planning and Preparation Identify evaluation team members. Assemble, review and update project documents. Ensure M&E data is valid, up to date and easily accessible. Conduct an evaluation stakeholder analysis. Determine learning objectives. Lead or participate in drafting SOWs and workplans. 24 Suggested Guidelines for Managing External Evaluations Phase 2: Implementation and Management Closely monitor progress. Manage evaluation anxiety. Manage stakeholders

14 Suggested Guidelines for Managing External Evaluations Phase 3: Using an Evaluation Communicate findings to stakeholders. Actively respond to recommendations. Leverage external evaluations to promote quality work. 26 Summary In this session we: Learned about the project cycle. Discussed processes and outputs related to each stage of the project cycle. Focused on two common implementation challenges: USAID quarterly reporting and final evaluations

15 Questions and Comments? 28 Thank you Acknowledgements: Catholic Relief Services ProPack II: Project Management and Implementation Guidance The Essential NGO Guide to Managing Your USAID Award: Chapter 5, Reporting: Requirements and Benefits 29 15

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