Last modified on 9 November 2013, at 15:53

Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Managing Programmes/Program identification

The first stage in developing a programme is to identify the problems and the opportunities that generate the need for the programme. Only in a few cases, do programs start with the identification of a completely new or original problem. Most problems are identified through evaluations of results obtained and lessons learned from previous efforts.

In most cases, programmes targeting specific themes and/or geographic areas are conceived within wider regional or sectoral programmes developed by the international community and other development actors, and ideally after consultations with local governments. In some cases, the main features of the wider programmes are already broadly identified and the organization only needs to focus in a specific area where it feels it has a specific interest, capacity and value added, because of its history, competence and operational experience.

However, even in such cases, when specific programmes are conceived within wider ones, the organization that is trying to identify its role and therefore its programme, needs to ask itself questions like:

  • What are the problems?
  • Why are people suffering?
  • What are the factors inhibiting development, people's rights and people's dignity?
  • What needs to change in order to solve the problems?
  • How can this desired change happen? How can we remove the factors that cause suffering? Who can help make this change happen?
  • What can be our role? Is our operational capacity needed to help bring about this change?
  • What learning from previous programmes can be applied here?

In order to identify the programme goal, organisations first assess beneficiary needs and study the Context in which their programme is to be developed and implemented. Through such needs assessment exercises, an organisation understands the needs of the beneficiaries, their expectations and aspirations, the problems and challenges they face, the skills they possess, the local livelihood opportunities, their roles and responsibilities in local development, their access and ability to exercise their rights.

The information resulting from this assessment helps an organisation define the overall programme objectives and identify the actions or "projects" through which the programme will be implemented. The factors that determine the selection of problems and needs that an organisation chooses to address depends  on the one hand on its mission, its strengths and previous experience, and on the other hand, on government policies and donor strategies.

The overall objectives (goal) of the programme are the common goals to which various projects, conceived within this programme, are expected to contribute. It is expected that, over a period of time, beneficiaries become programme partners and work together with the organisation towards achieving a common goal.

The Programme Actions are also called "projects", because the objective of these actions is specific, their scope is limited and they are terminated once the expected outputs are delivered. Instead, programmes have a wide scope and are not specifically time bound.

While projects tend to proceed along a linear path ... from its conception to its closure (the earlier the better), programmes tend to follow a cyclical process, wherein the lessons learnt, during the implementation of projects, feed into the identification and designing of a new phase of the programme, i.e. a new programme.

When the organization finds that the problems can be addressed with actions that can be managed on the basis of the information and experience available in its structure, and in a manner that is consistent with the organization's beliefs, values and objectives, then the scope for that program is identified.

A good programme design will give answers to the following questions:

  • What is the cultural and policy approach that is expected to be used in the implementation methodology
  • What is the expected quality standard and how to achieve it?
  • How will the project or programme be monitored, evaluated and its impact measured?
  • How will the organization learn from the programme?
  • How are cross-sectoral issues of development considered in the programme?

When the organization finds that the problems can be addressed with actions that can be managed on the basis of the information and experience available in its structure, and in a manner that is consistent with the organization's beliefs, values and objectives, then the scope for that program is identified.

ToolsEdit

Swiss sknife.png Programme plan
Swiss sknife.png Guideline: How to manage programmes for a learning organization that is projectized and employee empowering.

See alsoEdit

Issues icon.jpg Issue 8 ⇒ How to design and manage successful cooperation programmes?

In other sections of this handbook
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Organizational Types
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Organizational Structure
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Organizational Culture
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The projectized organization
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The learning organization
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The employee empowering organization
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The Organization’s mission
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The Organization’s vision

Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Designing and Managing Projects
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The 3 level hierarchy of programme objectives
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Project Managers and programme Managers