Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects
Designing and Executing Projects
In this section we will see the practical side of project management and we will share the typical steps and tools of project management
A project is a temporary process undertaken in order to achieve a specific result.
Project is "temporary" because once the result is achieved the effort terminates. So projects are different from the repetitive processes that are meant to continue indefinitely. Building a school in a village is a project (that terminates once the school is built); educating the village children is a constantly renewed process (that is expected to continue generation after generation).
Etymologically the word "project" derives from Latin "proiectum" (from pro- "forward" + iacere "to throw") literally meaning "something thrown forth"; the use of the word project as "scheme, proposal, mental plan" is present in English from c.1600. The use of the word "project" for a time bound specific effort is motivated by the fact that an action, in order to achieve the intended results and produce the expected outcomes, should be first planned adequately and then implemented in line with the plans. Working "by projects" is the management style where the work flow is organized for the achievement of well defined objectives.
In case of development cooperation activities, where there are a number of actors co-operating in a non-hierarchical structure, such an element of "planning" and of "working along the plans" is an essential prerequisite for success. So development cooperation actions are all conceived as "projects". The maintenance of the status quo is never the purpose of development cooperation that generally takes place where there is poverty and is meant to generate a "change" in the vicious circle of ignorance and exclusion. So "change" is a key term for development project and the identification of what needs to be changed is the same as the identification of the expected outcome of the project.
However this change should be harmonious to the culture of the local populations and cannot be superimposed by others. A characteristics of development cooperation actions is that they are "beneficiary based", i.e. that are designed and managed to serve the need of the target population (and not the needs of the donors or of the employed organizations). This means that what justified an action are not its immediate results (i.e. the project deliverables) but the utilization of such deliverables to empower the beneficiaries to solve their problems and remove the factors generating poverty and injustice (i.e. the project expected “outcome-s"). The key of success of development cooperation activities is the participatory process that is meant to manage the projects so that its outcomes serve primarily the interest of the beneficiaries and not primarily the interest of the organizations that work at it or of those who put the money (i.e. the "donors").
Projects are always conceived within wider programmes, i.e. a broad framework of scopes, goals, and work methodologies. In development cooperation the programmes identify the development needs of the beneficiaries and define the overall objectives to be achieved in order to respond to those needs. Programs therefore provide a framework where different projects, sharing the same overall objectives, can be implemented in a coordinated manner.
Subsections of this chapter
- Project Planning
- Project Execution and Control
- Project completion and closure
- Programme Cycle Management
- The 3 level hierarchy of programme objectives
- Project Managers and programme Managers