Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Managing Programmes/operations plan

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One of the critical steps in forming a project/program is determining the right processes necessary to produce the expected deliverables. Operations are the processes through which resource inputs such as raw material, creative talent, labor, communication skills, etc. are converted into useful outputs. It is through operations that an organization creates value for the programme beneficiaries. The operating plans describe the control procedures and flow of activities required to design execute and evaluate projects that are functional to achieve the programme scope.

Programme operations include: Managing and supporting project managers  (when they design, evaluate and implement their projects) Integrating the different projects in the unitary programme framework (as set in the programme plan). How these two operational sectors are integrated is described in the operations plan; how these operations are managed is described in the Management plan.

Programme operations include: How projects are designed, handed over to project teams and monitored. How projects are supported by the business support services, evaluated and integrated in the unitary programme framework (as set in the programme plan). How these two operational sectors are integrated is described in the operations plan; how these operations are managed is described in the Management plan.

Programmes are implemented through projects. In a sense the "projects" can be considered the "activities" of a programme. The difference is that the activities of a project are defined while the project is being planned. Instead projects are developed during programme execution, much the program structure is decided.

So projects designed, funded, executed substained by the support services, evaluated and integrated are the programme outputs, i.e. the concrete results of the programme by which, through the interaction with the other programme stakeholders, the organization endeavours to achieve the programme objectives..

In this operational plan the programme plan will illustrate the team expertise in managing, supporting and integrating projects. Besides the programme secotors into which specific projects are conceived and managed, the operational plan will describe the organization departments that supports and integrates project, and that deal specifically with sectors like Finances Human Resources management Infrastructure and Logistics etc.  

Location One of the most critical elements of the operation plan is discussing the location for operations. In the description of the location, the following questions should be answered: Will the facility be purchased, leased, or rented? What are the other types of project/programs in the surrounding area? What are the advantages/disadvantages of the location with regards to proximity to beneficiaries, suppliers, etc.? In addition to highlighting the basic details about the location, managers must also comment on the cultural and socio/economic impact.

Influence: Changing Technology Technology is an important part of virtually every project/program. Even non-technology project/programs like education use technology to become more efficient and efficacious. Technology is so important to most organizations – so much so that slight improvements on technology can provide an effective advantage in a tight marketplace.

However, technology is constantly changing. It makes old systems obsolete and can complete alter the way an organization needs to operate. For example, the Internet surprised many project/program owners who found themselves facing new competition who were reaching their customers over the Internet. At the same time, adopting new technology is expensive, and most project/programs resist doing so until it is clear that it will have a substantial impact on the bottom line. Therefore, managers must demonstrate that they understand the technological issues with their sector of activity and are prepared to act quickly, but not too quickly in adopting new advances.

Influence: Regulation The final outside factors that influence an organization’s operations are customers and regulations. Each will be discussed separately.

Regulations – project/programs must operate within a maze of state and local guidelines that are constantly changing. These regulations can have a wide affect on how an organization can operate.

Common Mistakes Again, the operations plan is a critical component of a strong project/program plan. As a result, the following are some common mistakes that managers should avoid when crafting their own plans.

Failure to properly assess costs Improper planning – Often items likes plant layout, materials handling, work spaces, travel, and other areas of an operation plan feel like they have not be thought through. This gives the impression that the plan is poorly assembled. Poor scheduling – The audience wants to know that the managers understand the staffing needs to handle the operations. Failure to account for all costs – The margin information provided in the operations plan should include all the fixed, variable and indirect costs facing the organization. Poor personnel management – organizations needs talented people to grow. managers must demonstrate that they are prepared to find those people and bring them into the organization. Underestimating social and cultural impact – organizations that do not adequately account for the impact their organization will have on their social environment appear to be aggressive and risky.

In order to keep a coherent work methodology and standardize quality Organization may establish Mandatory Procedures and Good Practice Model of Good Practice Templates (see those proposed in this manual in Templates) Guidelines (see those proposed in this manual in Guidelines)

Templates Programme Implementation Evaluation and Closure Checklist