Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Managing Programmes/Ending a programme

Ending the Organization involvement with a programme            

At the end of the evaluation there is a decision if ending the organization involvement with a programme    or start a new cycle of programme management.

Assess the organizational scope and the beneficiary needs for further programme design and development

Can the programme or its benefits continue without Organization's involvement? What learning can we take into future programmes? Organization's mission is to work with others to overcome poverty and suffering - this is sometimes expressed as finding "lasting solutions to poverty". To make sure that the solutions that any particular programme or project is seeking to find are lasting, we need to have worked closely with the intended beneficiaries, partners and other stakeholders to agree when Organization's involvement will end and what will happen after that. We need to be sure they have the capacity to continue the work or sustain the benefits gained. To do this, it is essential to plan the phase-out and completion of the programme right from the beginning, when we are identifying and designing the programme.   Coming Soon! Rough Guide to Exit Strategies - one of a series of resources produced by the Programme Resource Centre; two-page guidelines/overviews of key programme practice issues that programme colleagues have said they need. Organization’s support for a particular programme or project, or phase of a project, will eventually end. This may involve gradually phasing out Organization’s support. Organization’s involvement with the partner may also end or it may continue in relation to other programmes, projects and activities. If the phasing out and completion of Organization support is well planned in advance, and this has been taken into account in the design of the project, it will facilitate a smooth transition for the partner and/or the project. This, in turn, should help improve the impact of the project activities. 4.1 Guiding principles The following guiding principles are useful to bear in mind when taking decisions about the phasing-out or completion of a project: · The best interests of the women and men beneficiaries should be the basis for determining the criteria and the arrangements for phasing out work. · The intended beneficiaries and other stakeholders should be fully informed and, as appropriate, involved in the process of phase-out or completion. Initial commitments and promises must, as far as possible, be kept. If a programme or project was started with the plan to complete a particular piece of work, it should not end or be handed over until this has been done, unless the monitoring and review process – fully involving intended beneficiaries and partners - has shown that it is no longer appropriate.     4.2 The purpose of phasing out and completion: · To plan and organise the disengagement of Organization and/or the partner in the programme or project activities; · To formalise and document this disengagement and the handover of any resources and/or activities; · To document the learning from the project so that it feeds into institutional learning and is accessible for future use. (see the Monitoring, Evaluating and Learning section) This involves advance planning of the process and its efficient administration when it occurs.    4.3 Planning the phase out Once a relationship has been established, partners can sometimes develop expectations that it will continue indefinitely and they can come to rely on Organization support. Organization’s withdrawal will be much easier if it has been clear from the beginning that Organization’s support will end.   The phase-out or completion should be discussed and reviewed when choosing partners, designing the project or programme, at review meetings during implementation and at any evaluation which takes place before completion. At the identification stage, when thinking through possible objectives, we asked:  · Will the benefits be sustainable? At the design stage, one of the questions we asked when thinking through different possible strategies was: · What is the likely sustainability of the benefits after the end of the project? To address this question:  · Draw up an exit strategy in consultation with both beneficiaries and partners. · Include exit criteria: i.e. steps that have to be completed before Organization withdraws. Set a timeline for hand-over. Sticking rigidly to a set timeframe may not be flexible enough to respond to changing contexts. But timelines should not be extended indefinitely, as motivation to make progress towards exit may falter and uncertainty about Organization’s intentions grow. During the implementation stage, we continuously monitor the programme/project and its activities to check whether it is: · On track to achieve its objectives. To ensure we are monitoring this: Set indicators and continuously re-assess the exit strategy and its timeline against these. Review and adjust exit criteria during programme implementation to respond to changing circumstances, always in consultation with the other stakeholders. Link the exit strategy to sustainable programme objectives. For example, avoiding reliance on external resources by sourcing local materials where possible, can form an explicit part of an exit strategy.   4.4 Phasing out The partner is responsible for implementing its agreed responsibilities for phase out or completion. Organization is likewise responsible for its internal administration of the process and for ensuring that Organization’s learning from the project is documented and shared (see the Monitoring, Evaluating and Learning section). Phasing out Sign formal agreements relating to handover of finances/resources etc. Exit gradually. For example, Organization’s role may change from that of implementer to funder to advisor before finally exiting altogether. This gradual withdrawal not only enables local organisations to increase their capacity and expertise. It also allows for monitoring of the exit process to generate lessons about what works and to identify and resolve problems. Ending a programme early Occasionally, Organization or a partner may decide to terminate a project early, i.e. end its obligation to a project before its scheduled end. Possible reasons include: · Insecurity in the area where the project is located. · Agreed responsibilities are not being fulfilled. · The activities are proving difficult or impossible to implement. · There has been a misuse of funds. · Funds are no longer available. Organization and the partner/target community representatives would need to meet and discuss this before a decision is taken. In the event that a decision to terminate early is made, the relevant information should be included on the Project Closure report in OPAL. Build post-exit evaluation into your programme from the start to assess sustainability of programme impacts. Documenting the exit Following on from monitoring of the exit, an evaluation several months after the programme’s completion can discover issues and impacts that weren’t foreseen. A closure report needs to be completed and stored in the OPAL system - for details see the OPAL Business Rules and Ways of Working: Project Closure or the relevant Help pages in OPAL itself.     4.5 Considerations: what needs to be decided? The partner and the Organization will first need to decide whether: · The programme or project activities should come to a complete end · All or some of the activities are handed over to another organisation (e.g. CBO or government agency, or to an NGO if Organization is ‘operational’ - i.e. working directly with the community) · Any follow-up support is provided (non-funded or in a different project)  Organization and the partner will then need to decide: · When the programme should be ended or handed over · What criteria will be used to judge readiness for phasing-out/completion and how monitoring may lead to adjustments · If and when these criteria will be reviewed and by whom. If part or all of the project activities are being handed over, it will be necessary to consider: · What is handed over? Whatever is necessary to run the project or activity should be handed over. The precise details will depend on the source of funding, the time over which the activities will continue, the resources of the group or organisation taking over, other needs for these resources and the lifespan of any equipment involved. · To whom? It may be to organisations already involved in the project activities. However, when handing over operational work (i.e. where Organization has been working directly with communities), there may be several possible organisations, and their appropriateness will need to be assessed (see Working with Partners). Specific questions to consider will be: Are they willing to involve themselves early on in training, etc.? Are they local and already working in the area? · What support, if any, will continue to be provided by Organization or the partner? Will there be a need for training, advice or follow-up visits? · What monitoring, if any, will continue to be undertaken by Organization or the partner after the end of the programme?