Establishing the Framework

August 18, 2009

Focus on: Training Units

The most sustainable way to use BRIDGE is to incorporate (and adapt) the resources, trained facilitators, and methodology into the training unit of a client organisation. Such a unit may have to be created, or may benefit from being strengthened or restructured. Working with an existing training unit A Training Plan is vital. If such a plan already exists, it may be possible to tie BRIDGE into the existing plan. It may also be necessary to conduct a Training Needs Assessment. If this was already performed prior to the BRIDGE training, it may need to be reviewed, in the light of the training. It may also be necessary to assist in the identification, development or strengthening of a training culture. Identifying a training ‘champion’ – who should be fostered and encouraged – could assist if there is a relatively weak training culture within the client organisation. Transforming an agency with deeply ingrained beliefs, values and behaviour is a daunting proposition. Whatever the training culture, close collaboration with the key personnel responsible for training should occur at this stage. Collaborative relationships with host country agencies, and other stakeholders, are a critical link to the success of training efforts. Where a training unit exists, a program of development or strengthening must be planned in conjunction with the relevant staff. It needs to be acknowledged that training, like many forms of education, can have intangible results (such as psychological, social and spiritual dimensions and effects). This fact needs to be kept in mind when building arguments for the strengthening or reforming of training units. Decision-makers often rely on tangible, easy-to-measure indicators – and base budgets on this sort of data. Training advocates need to be convincing in their arguments of the benefits and importance of training. Creation of a training unit A training department’s establishment from scratch will mean working with an organisational champion in senior management and authority, and liaising with the human resources department regarding the organisational structure. The creation and continued relevance or maintenance of a training unit may be dependent on organisational priorities, stability and change, change in leadership, and larger transformation issues at governmental, political and regional levels. These things may well be out of the control of program planners and reformers. As well, all the above considerations relating to working with existing training units would apply. Continued work with a training unit is a natural part of a sustainability process or plan following a BRIDGE projects, enabling the program organisers to work with the client in working through the recommendations of the evaluation report, further create rapport, trust and the continuance of good […]
August 18, 2009

Communication Planning

Considering effective communication with all stakeholders is absolutely fundamental to a project’s success, the development of a communication plan is often among the first tasks to be dealt with. A BRIDGE program management plan would always include such a plan – which documents all aspects of communicating with stakeholders during the life of the program. Keeping in contact with relevant organisations, both formally and informally, is necessary for any BRIDGE program. The reporting requirements will often be spelt out in a written agreement. Informal exchanges of views are also important to maintain goodwill between organisations. Stakeholders need to be ‘kept in the picture’; they need a copy of the product and should be invited to the opening and closing of the workshop. They should be sent newsletters or progress reports including regular updates on developments, successes, evaluations, feedback, recommendations, and changes to the program. While they may not always require formal written reports, they will still need to be kept informed on a regular basis. Formal meetings are one important aspect of communication and can, if not correctly managed, result in a waste of time, money and energy. Certain meetings play a structural or process role in projects, for example, the inaugural meeting that is required at project launch. Other meetings include design reviews and periodic progress reviews. The project manager should know what meetings are required, when they are required and how they should be conducted. Ultimately, the client organisation, donors and implementers need a record of the process, spelling out outcomes and achievements. They should, therefore, be provided with written reports on an agreed regular basis (weekly, monthly or at particular milestones). Such reports should always be honest and accurate, covering both positive achievements and developments, and any significant challenges. There may be sponsors who are not directly involved in the conduct of the workshops, but who need to be kept informed and given progress reports. This would probably happen automatically, but should be the regular initiative of the organisers of the program or the program manager. Similarly, clients need to be regularly kept abreast of developments, with written reports and updates. Information management and documentation Because programs generate and absorb significant quantities of information, it is important that an effective information management system be in place. The purpose of such a system is to manage the means that allow information to be effectively acquired, stored, processed, accessed, communicated, and archived. There should be a valid audit trail of this communication process. Generally, computer-based technology can significantly impact the effective management of information. Ensuring that a comprehensive, valuable information systems plan is available for the program as a whole should be an important responsibility of the program manager. Information distribution involves making needed information available to program stakeholders in a timely manner. It includes implementing communication management plans as well as responding to unexpected requests for information. BRIDGE Office Apart from formal written progress reports, information management of a general nature is a core role for the organisers of a BRIDGE program. As emphasised throughout this manual, it is strongly recommended that all documentation be forwarded to the BRIDGE Office. It is also recommended that all electronic data relating to the BRIDGE program be periodically backed-up and files emailed (or sent) to the BRIDGE Office. Also refer to 7.2 Transition: Reporting, Documenting and Updating BRIDGE for guidelines as to what documents should be sent. Media liaison Where a media campaign is launched to publicise a specific BRIDGE program, all stakeholders should be consulted to ensure coordination of efforts, which, in turn, would translate into consistency of messages. Any media interviews should preferably be undertaken by local facilitators or participants. Journalists in most countries are trained to write stories in an ‘inverted pyramid’ style, starting with a lead paragraph that conveys the essence and essential facts of the story, which is then developed in detail in subsequent paragraphs. Aside from making it clear to the reader from the outset what the story is about, this also allows the item to be cut from the bottom upwards, without losing its essence. Such a technique should, as a whole, also be used when drafting press […]
August 17, 2009

Project Management Structure and Plan

The conduct of a BRIDGE project will typically require a significant investment of time, money and human resources from a range of stakeholders, including participants, EMBs, facilitators, implementing agencies, as well as donors in some cases. The success of the program will depend on the stakeholders sharing a common understanding of, and commitment to, its scope and nature. Formation of a Steering Committee and Program Team A steering committee or advisory group, consisting of representatives of stakeholders (including, of course, the client organisation), facilitators and the program team, should be set up. Depending on the size of the program, such representatives should reflect the different levels of implementation (regional, national, local). The role of a steering committee is to: Review and endorse project plans Monitor the different phases of the project Take re-directive actions Build consensus when needed Carry out final evaluations Establish an exit strategy that takes into account: delays and rescheduling amendment of plans and formal agreements cancellation of project It would be the responsibility of both the steering committee and the program team to collaborate with one another. The program team are the people developing and implementing the BRIDGE program. This team will already be beginning to take shape once the program is initiated. At this point, an experienced BRIDGE facilitator (or someone very conversant in BRIDGE) should already be involved, preferably as part of the program development team. At this point also, the administrative support to the program team and facilitators needs to be considered. If possible, administrative support staff should be part of the program team from its inception. It is also useful to start identifying facilitators who are appropriate and available for the proposed program. It will also help to decide whether or not a program should involve developing local facilitators. Because BRIDGE is an activity-based curriculum, its successful implementation is highly dependent on the quality and experience of the facilitators who conduct it. More information on consideration of facilitators can be found in 5. BRIDGE Facilitators, and 6.1 Preparing for a BRIDGE Module Workshop. Project Management Plan Once an agreement has been signed and the type of BRIDGE program has been chosen, it is time to develop a detailed project management plan, which will be the main tool for allocating resources, assigning activities, monitoring developments and evaluating achievements. A detailed project management plan should include the following: Project summary, including contextual issues Background Scope, goal, objectives, outputs, and key capacity development performance indicators Project stakeholders: client, donors and implementation agency hierarchy, links and reporting lines steering committee Agreement summary and contractual responsibilities Budget Log frame Work schedules and phases, time frame, activities and tasks Appraisal, monitoring and evaluation strategies Reporting requirements, communication and information management plan for: project stakeholders project partners communication with BRIDGE partners and BRIDGE Office Risk management plan Logistics and procurement plan Security plan (for staff and assets) Public relations (media, fund-raising, and networking) Final evaluation Sustainability & Maintenance plan Sustainability Plan A sustainability plan should: be built into any BRIDGE program from the beginning detail all relevant measures, actions and standards that need to apply at various stages of the implementation process to serve the purpose of sustainability of the BRIDGE impact in the long run be based on past experience, evaluation reports, contextual analysis and projected future development/events articulate a clear vision based on organisational priorities include both long-term and short-term strategies, with the longer term ones based on a 3 to 5 year plan, from one election to the next, using the election calendar as the milestone ‘cycle’ be budgeted in broad terms to secure funds ahead of time have no more than 5 key focus areas for the next period/cycle ensure that skills development is tied to job descriptions (if formalised), though at the same time it must be recognised that business needs most likely override individual […]
August 17, 2009

Financial Planning & Formal Agreements

The completion of any project within its budget is a central objective of project management. Budgeting is the process of estimating as accurately as possible, against a clear baseline, the costs that one may reasonably expect to incur, understanding how and why they do actually occur, and ensuring whatever prompt response is required to keep them within the agreed budget. In order to be successful, cost management needs to be forward-looking. A BRIDGE program, which includes a management component and a series of workshops, will have to be broken down into its constituent elements. Refer to: 8.4 Annex 4: Potential Cost Items of a BRIDGE Program for a comprehensive list Typical budgetary management includes establishing estimates and forecasts; obtaining and recording commitments or accruals; measuring work accomplished and value earned, including treatment of changes (change control) and claims; and checking cash flow. Should there be funding problems, cuts may have to be considered and credits reallocated or alternative financing sought, with the agreement of the donor(s). The issue of payments to facilitators (and participants) can be quite a complex one. It is therefore essential that the terms and conditions of any financial support be clearly defined from the outset. Because payments may often be made in different ways, with rates varying between people, explaining their delivery models and rationale is necessary. The following specific issues would require consideration: appropriate salary scale for facilitators (including a decision on payment at international salary or local salary levels) payment of any allowances on top of salary terms and modalities of payment (currency; method – cash, electronically, other; frequency) body or officials responsible for payments Agreements There should be some form of written agreement, for example, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Record of Understanding (RoU) or exchange of letters, to finalise the details agreed upon between the main stakeholders – typically, donors, project team and clients. All stakeholders should be involved in its development. Such an agreement should specify clear outcomes and deliverables, and determine the responsibilities of the implementing agency, the donors, any consultants, and the client organisation. The following elements could be included: personnel definitions duration responsibilities scope of services preamble (introduction) suspension or termination fees, payment audit and financial records taxes, duties and charges intellectual property relationship with foreign government delivery models anti-corruption agreement to adhere to BRIDGE rules and policies reporting requirements budget variation/revision log frame confidentiality and public comment provisions for amendments and extensions outcomes […]
August 17, 2009

Focus On: Showcasing BRIDGE

What is a BRIDGE showcase? BRIDGE uses the word ‘showcase’ to refer to the use of a specially customised BRIDGE workshop to demonstrate the BRIDGE methodology to potential clients or stakeholders. That stakeholders understand BRIDGE is vital to the success of any BRIDGE program, as is assists with expectation management, appropriate objective setting and appropriate program design. One of the potential obstacles in establishing a BRIDGE program is misconceptions as to what BRIDGE is and what it can do. Having people actually participate in a BRIDGE workshop is the best way to deal with these misconceptions. Showcase workshops will usually be run at the beginning of a program, to allow for familiarisation and buy-in. There may be reasons to run showcases at later stages in the program as well (such as new stakeholders becoming involved, or new staff) but the showcase is essentially to demonstrate BRIDGE to those who are unfamiliar with it. It is not usually run with the intention of contributing to the objectives of a BRIDGE program (e.g. to provide training in certain areas of the electoral process), but rather to consolidate understanding and support for the program as a whole. Once a program is established, this should be less of an issue. It is important to involve experienced BRIDGE facilitators in the showcase workshop as they will be able to answer questions that might arise, and will also ensure that a quality workshop is delivered. Experienced facilitators will also have the knowledge to choose the right mix of materials and to understand how to deal with the cultural make-up of the participants. It might also be beneficial to involve any less experienced local facilitators, if they exist, to both provide a local perspective in the facilitation team, and also give them experience in their own context (as it is likely that they will be involved in the rollout of any program). Using BRIDGE modules in the showcase A showcase is usually based around the Introduction to Electoral Administration module, which is designed to be a good, broad summary of electoral principles and key areas. It gives a taste of each of the different thematic groups, has a good range of approaches within the BRIDGE methodology, and establishes the appropriate pedagogical and ethical framework for the rest of the program. However, depending on the audience, it is possible that another module is more appropriate, or a mixture of activities from different modules. For example, if a potential client organisation was considering running a program based on a more specialised area, such as boundary delimitation, and the stakeholder audience is experienced in boundary issues, it might be more worthwhile to demonstrate the rigour of the content and run a showcase based on the Boundary Delimitation module. Showcasing for decision makers Those people making the decision as to whether or not to use BRIDGE, or the direction of a BRIDGE program, should be familiar and comfortable with what BRIDGE is. A showcase is the best way to quickly familiarise decision makers, and encourage their buy-in. Showcasing for potential facilitators and implementers Another reason for running a showcase is to familiarise those who will be involved in the delivery of any BRIDGE program – the facilitators and implementers. It is particularly important for both of these groups to have a good understanding of BRIDGE before they either begin training as a facilitator (at a BRIDGE TtF) or organising programs. Key points to consider for showcasing However, some critical points need to be borne in mind. These include: A key consideration in showcasing is to ensure that the strengths of BRIDGE are highlighted, while handling (explicitly or implicitly) the concerns regarding its use that may be in the minds of the audience. Such concerns may be that BRIDGE: threatens hierarchy cuts across operational priorities does not tackle real operational needs relies on a non-traditional, activity-based teaching methodology On the other hand, BRIDGE’s strengths lie in the fact that it is: based on a state-of-the art methodology that is likely to become standard practice an instrument for professional development contributing to the motivation of staff regularly updated by experts modular and adaptable to the audiences a shell, a tool, or a framework to be owned by the implementing and client agencies built upon the principles of modern management – learning, changing, liberating opinions, empowering individuals, respecting diversity (gender, age), and acknowledging merit Those responsible for planning such showcasing, particularly where activities are to be demonstrated, should constantly keep in mind the following requirements to: think carefully about the target audience (taking account of levels of seniority, and perspectives) and tailor arguments to be as effective as possible, bearing in mind that the less they know the audience, the more cautious they should be choose the language accordingly establish credibility, notably by stressing the serious and substantial nature of BRIDGE pick a local circumstance and select a related activity that demonstrates relevance focus on the key essentials, choosing the most complex subject (for example boundary delimitation) and the least dynamic methodology – things that are too generic or simple should not be showcased refrain from starting with an ‘ice-breaker’ activity stress that the point of motivated self-learning is to reach the learning outcome through personal discovery – BRIDGE activities are designed to be memorable and […]
August 17, 2009

Developing a program framework

Once the program objectives are in place and parameters identified, implementers can begin to look at the BRIDGE components and workshop sequencing to determine which are most likely to address the set objectives. The best way to build support is to co-design the intended BRIDGE program with the clients themselves. This approach has proven far more effective than the ‘cold start’ approach where BRIDGE facilitators come into a country to facilitate with little or no face to face consultation with the client organisation. Workshop components and scale The key questions here are: How extensive is this program to be? What will best achieve the objectives? E.g. a BRIDGE showcase, an implementation workshop, an introductory module workshops, a TtF, module workshops. Determining the program components and scale can be difficult unless a very experienced BRIDGE facilitator and/or implementer is providing guidance. The size of a program could be as small or as large as you need it to be (or as funding permits). Initially, the following questions should be answered to try to ascertain the scope/size of the program: How many people in the organisation do you want to have (BRIDGE Project) trained? What length of training should they ideally have? What length of training can realistically be given to the recipients of the trainings? Once determined – then ask: How many facilitators will be needed to deliver the training to the intended audience? (More information on this can be found in 5. BRIDGE Facilitators.) A recommended sequence of events for an extensive BRIDGE program is as follows: Showcase Description: The Showcase is a useful tool for exposing decision-makers to relevant aspects of the resources, materials and method of delivery of BRIDGE. It will help to give them a better and more informed understanding of the benefits they can derive from BRIDGE, and if it is suitable for their needs. It is highly recommended to use the Introduction to Electoral Administration module as the Showcase workshop, as this module showcases the BRIDGE methodology and establishes the appropriate pedagogical and ethical framework for the rest of the program. Alternatively, a customised showcase module using BRIDGE material from any of the 23 modules (as best fits the needs of the audience) could be used. Intended audience: Decision-makers. It is also useful for potential facilitators or implementers to attend. Who can deliver it: Fully accredited facilitators. Attention needs to be focussed on obtaining the ‘right’ type of facilitators, because high-level decisions need to be made on program tailoring, choosing the right mix of materials, and understanding the cultural make-up of participants. Conduct first module workshops Description: One or two workshops to allow a broader range of stakeholders to become familiar with BRIDGE. Intended audience: Client organisation staff, those who may become facilitators or implementers and other stakeholders. Who can deliver it: Fully accredited facilitators. Attention needs to be focussed on obtaining the ‘right’ type of facilitators, because high-level decisions need to be made on program tailoring, choosing the right mix of materials, and understanding the cultural make-up of participants. Begin the process of accrediting local BRIDGE facilitators at a Train the Facilitator workshop Description: Project partners should assess the appropriateness of conducting this workshop as the accreditation of local facilitators constitutes an important contribution to capacity building. The 10-day Train the Facilitator (TtF) workshop is designed to give practical skills and knowledge about BRIDGE modules to potential facilitators of BRIDGE, and to prepare them to deliver the workshops in the program. The successful completion of a TtF workshop is one step towards gaining full accreditation as a BRIDGE facilitator – the second is attending a module workshop as a participant. The final step towards accreditation as a Workshop Facilitator is facilitating a module in the field under supervision, and it would be expected that this stage would be completed within the module phase of the sequence. For more information on TtFs and accreditation, refer to 5. BRIDGE Facilitators. Intended audience: Experienced trainers, preferably with a background in curriculum development. Ideally participants will have a solid grounding in the methodologies and approaches of BRIDGE and capacity development. It is strongly recommended that a prerequisite for the TtF is participation in at least one BRIDGE module. Who can deliver it: Experienced accredited facilitators, with an Accrediting or Expert Facilitator as lead. Conduct Implementation Workshop Description: The objective of the workshop is to help local stakeholders in BRIDGE make best use of this Manual. Where a BRIDGE program is extensive and the intention is for local staff to continue its implementation, this workshop is highly recommended. Intended audience: Implementers, managers and administrators of the BRIDGE program. It is highly recommended that participants in the Implementation Workshop have participated in the BRIDGE Introduction module, or a showcase. If not, it is highly recommended that a one-day showcase be incorporated into the beginning of the Implementation Workshop. Who can deliver it: A minimum of two very experienced BRIDGE facilitators, preferably Expert Facilitators. Ideally, one facilitator should be very experienced in facilitation and the other should have extensive experience in implementing or administrating a BRIDGE program. Conduct bulk of module workshops Description: This is the main bulk of the program. Intended audience: The client organisation and other stakeholders who can benefit from taking part. Ideally they should have some prior or current experience in the electoral field, or be about to take part in election-related activities. They should be motivated individuals, committed to the democratic process, and willing to share information and to assist in the setting up of national training programs. They should also be willing to participate in the evaluation and further design of the program. Who can deliver it: Fully accredited BRIDGE facilitators. Attention should be focused on obtaining the ‘right’ type of facilitator and the right team. It is recommended that at least one facilitator is ‘local’. Other considerations to keep in mind are gender balance, hierarchical balance, geographical balance and balance of electoral and/or training experience. Initial identification of modules that meet program objectives When the components and scope of a program have been identified (e.g. module workshops, Train the Facilitator and Implementation Workshops, and roll-out of more modules), the next step is the identification of the modules that would be most appropriate to meet the program objectives, and the time allocation/schedule of the program. Again, an experienced BRIDGE facilitator is recommended to assist in this process – as detailed familiarity with all the modules is needed at this stage to identify those parts of the modules which will be most appropriate. This is the initial stage of ‘customising’ a BRIDGE program: identifying the relevant objectives, Key Understandings and Learning Outcomes, activities from the 23 modules. An appropriate workshop agenda is then built and resources made accordingly. More information on the customisation process is in 4. Designing and Customising BRIDGE Workshops. Refer to: 8.3 Annex 3: BRIDGE Modules at a Glance for a brief outline of each of the 23 […]
August 17, 2009

Focus on: the Electoral Cycle

Understanding the election cycle and the operational capability of an EMB is critical to creating a strong program. In giving consideration to timing, the program organiser could look at using BRIDGE as a pre-election planning tool, or using post-election evaluation as part of the planning component. Program developers should identify the most appropriate time to conduct module workshops that align with organisational priorities (and that don’t interfere with operational imperatives). Some modules would be most appropriately scheduled just prior to the relevant election cycle event (e.g. the Voter Registration module some time prior to the voter registration phase), others would be appropriate at all or any stages of the process. Immediately after an electoral event there is the likelihood of the withdrawal of donor funds and international technical assistance and attention from some countries. This is often coupled with staff reduction and the loss of expertise. However, this allows for a focus on planning and working with core or permanent staff. In roughly chronological order, this table provides guidelines on recommended minimum timeframe for running different BRIDGE modules. For example, Legal Framework should be run a minimum of 3-6 months before legislative reform, if not earlier. Module Timing Access to Electoral Processes At all stages of the process Gender and Elections At all stages of the process Civic Education At all stages of the process Electoral Assistance 2-3 years before E-Day Legal Framework 3-6 months before legislative reform Electoral Systems 3-6 months before ES reform Boundary Delimitation 3-6 months before BD process Electoral Management Design 3-6 months before EMB reform Electoral Dispute Resolution 1 month before party registration Electoral Technology 1 month before needs assessment or launching a tender Voter Registration 6-12 months before registration Pre-election Activities 12 months before E-day Electoral Security 6-12 months before E-Day Polling, Counting and Results 6 months before E-Day Electoral Training 6 months before E-Day Media and Elections 1 month before registration or at least 3 months before E-Day Electoral Contestants 12-24 months before an E-Day External Voting 12 months before E-Day Electoral Dispute Resolution 1 month before party registration Electoral Observation 1 month before registration This electoral cycle approach is a theoretical model to support planning and encourage long term thinking rather than any kind of reflection of reality. In the ‘real world’ where BRIDGE programs are being implemented, changes to the existing political culture, power structures or legal framework will likely be the rule rather than the exception. For example, new appointments to the EMB can have an impact on relationships with government and stakeholders and on the culture of transparency and on their professional needs. The reduction of institutional memory of electoral processes may affect the speed of implementation of the electoral calendar. Legislative amendments can have a huge impact on the timeline and rules of the game. New census data and new boundary delimitation can create tensions between parties, and a push to register previously unregistered voters may tilt delicate power […]
August 17, 2009

Setting BRIDGE program objectives

The first task of a program implementing team is to determine the overall program aims and objectives, by asking ‘what are you hoping to achieve with this program? Sample BRIDGE program objectives: Increasing organisation staff knowledge on boundary delimitation Increasing gender awareness of an organisation Improving the ability of the organisation to plan strategically Building an electoral culture within an organisation Building of teams within an organisation To give insights into the principles, skills and challenges in the conduct of properly run elections While BRIDGE will have been identified at this point as appropriate, it is important that objectives are identified independently of the BRIDGE curriculum. Types of Objectives Below is a quick summary of the implementation process, focusing on the objectives that should run through the BRIDGE program: Indicators BRIDGE program objectives, should be checked against appropriate indicators to measure capacity development3. Within a given context, the particulars of capacity development should be broken down into a number of performance indicators covering certain core functions appropriate to the program. Examples might include: awareness and knowledge institutional coordination and cooperation between stakeholders information management mobilisation of electoral principles in decision-making technology skill transfer negotiation and leadership skills institutional management and performance (Based on ‘Good Governance – Guiding Principles for Implementation’, issued by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) in […]

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