Short Guide 3
Leonardo Da Vinci 2012-1-IT1-LEO04-02901 1
How to Apply for and How to Manage Successful European Projects Circulation: Authors: Date: Doc. Ref. N°:
Confidential/Partners/Public Step4all Consortium 12/06/2014
STEP4ALL – SHORT GUIDE 3
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Contents 1 Introduction ...............................................................................................................................................5 2 Introduction to Project Cycle Management ...................................................................................6
3 Introduction to the Logical Framework Approach for Project Design and Management................................................................................................................................................... 11 4 How to Prepare a Proposal................................................................................................................ 15 5. Contractual aspects................................................................................................................................. 29 6 Project Management, monitoring and reviewing ..................................................................... 31 7 EU Project Management Roles ......................................................................................................... 56 8 Administrative and Financial Management.................................................................................... 59 9 Project Managersâ€™ Skills...................................................................................................................... 67 10. FAQ ............................................................................................................................................................. 74 11. BIBLIOGRAPHY..........................................................................................................................................83
The present document aims at providing useful information and selection of the programmes managed by the European Commission, so that the reader would be able to identify the most relevant aspects for the development of a given project idea and the implementation of the project proposal.
The team behind the project STEP4All selected the most relevant information which is indispensable for the confident orientation in the field of 2014-2020 European programs and funding schemes. At the same time, the present Guide 3 is connected to Guide 1 and Guide 2, which respectively present the European Union and its institutions, and the introduction to the EU projects. What is Project Cycle Management? How to prepare a proposal? What is LFA? What are the main responsibilities of the Project Coordinator? What are the most important skills a successful Project Manager should possess? Answers to these and many more interesting questions could be found in the following chapters of short Guide 3.
Introduction to Project Cycle Management
Introduction to Project Cycle Management
According to different definitions for project, it is planned, interrelated and coordinated activities, in order to achieve specific objectives within a certain period of time and budget. It is developed jointly by a formal or informal groups of organisations or institutions. Practically, every major project goes through a specific decision-making procedure called Project Cycle Management. The latter includes decisions such as key tasks, roles and responsibilities, key documents and others. Each project phase/stage can result in either some sense of closure before the next phase begins, or it can result in certain deliverables which would provide the starting point for the next phase. These batches of activities are usually called work packages, and each of them includes a number of tasks. Thus, the transitions between work packages is the best time for evaluation and review of the costs and the project prospects, in general. Different organizations and institutions have adopted different terms to describe similar stages of the Project Cycle. For the EU projects in particular, one can distinguish between legal and managerial aspects of the project lifecycle. The legal aspects refer to the establishment of relations between the beneficiary and the National Agency (NA) or the EU Commission. These address the procedures for project submission, contract conclusion, project monitoring, reporting, performance evaluation and audit. Whereas the managerial aspects refer to the actual idea generation, project design, project implementation, including project planning, time- and team management, internal monitoring and evaluation, and reporting documentation among others. These project lifecycle phases are shown in Fig.2 below:
Fig.2 Project Cycle Management
2.1 Project Cycle Management – Design & Managerial Aspects Here is one of the most commonly used categorisation of the managerial aspects: 1. Planning - there are three important aspects: a) identifying the problem on national or sectorial level to form the project idea; b) determination of the main goals and priorities to be achieved by implementing the project and c) formulation of the methodology and the strategy. It is essential that the project idea addresses a real sectorial and/or market need. Moreover, the planned results should be aimed at solving a particular issue of the selected target group. No project is successful, meaning sustainable, if its implementation is motivated by the sole desire to “get some EU funding”. 2. Research – conducting background research prior to proposal submission is to determine the project relevance, data availability and potential risks. It helps finding potential participants and relevant information to develop the project idea as well as to understand the sector’s framework. A good background research reduces the risk of getting into troubles at project implementation stage, such as low data availability, incorrect assumptions and wrong choice of partners, among others. It also supports the idea generation/development of the idea and helps to design a relevant and coherent
proposal. 3. Formulation – the appropriate ideas are then developed into a concrete project. It is essential to assess the suitability and the sustainability of the idea. The project proposal is to be designed and submitted in the official online- and/or paper-based template, following the latest available guidelines of the NA/EU Commission DG. Furthermore, the project proposal includes detailed description of the project tasks and distribution among partners for each planned work package. Therefore, careful consideration and planning of all the activities and resources at a proposal stage, is crucial, as these are tough to change upon proposal approval. 4. Implementation – after the contracting authority has evaluated the project proposals, and the grant agreement has been signed. This is the longest phase of the project lifecycle, aimed at achieving the planned results as per project proposal. The implementation stage comprises: drafting of detailed management, evaluation, quality and dissemination plans, in order to ensure consistency of the project results. It also involves the following activities among others: preparing series of tenders (if applicable); signature of contracts (including those for technical support); constant monitoring and control over the spending, as well as the timely and quality implementation of the project tasks; financial and progress report drafts. Adequate project management is essential in terms of guiding the project partners and achieving quality results. 5. Financial Management – interim and final reports are required by the NA to determine suitable spending of the EU funding. In some cases, the Agency might require a progress report to evaluate the interim project implementation. The reporting should be provided in the respective template, usually available on the website of the respective programme. 2.2 Project Cycle Management - Legal Aspects The legal aspects of the project lifecycle refer to the administrative support of the EU projects. In most cases each programme follows particular project cycle management logic; however these encompass more or less the following items: 1. Submission of proposals to the National Agencies or the European Commission DGs. These two bodies act as Contracting authority and Contractor respectively and each one of them has a specific operational field. The Commission deals with policy setting and programme design to be implemented by the NAs. EC and NAs have a mandate to control the whole lifecycle of the projects. The NAs are responsible for the implementation of all decentralised actions, whereas the EC DGs are entrusted with the centralized measures. Among others, the National Agencies have to support with comprehensive administration and to make payments to the beneficiaries. 2. Assessment of proposals – the project proposals need to adhere to a number of criteria (formal and quality elements, stipulated in the respective programme), which are used by the experts evaluating the proposals. Each proposal is rated based on a comprehensive grading system. 3. Selection results – at this stage, all applicants are contacted. The successful ones receive individual notifications with the exact status of their projects, while the unsuccessful applicants are given feedback of the project gaps and weaknesses.
4. Contracting –successful applicants sign a Grant Agreement with the National Agency, which stipulates both the conditions for the grant award, the payment instalments, and the financial and operational responsibilities of each partner. 5. Eligibility period and project activities – during this stage the planned activities are carried on, while the expenses can be incurred and covered by the European Communities’ grant. This period depends on the duration of the project. 6. Project monitoring – the implementation of the project through its lifecycle is monitored by the NA. The project progress is examined through regular on-the-spot project visits and Thematic Monitoring initiatives. 7. Reporting & Audit –beneficiaries are obliged to regularly submit reports to the NA, which defines the accurate spending of the grants and the successful implementation of the envisaged activities. The required data should be summarized in specific report templates and financial reporting tables, provided by the NA: Submission of Interim Report – provides mid-term update on the project progress compared to the original plans and budgets; required only for projects of 18 months' duration or more; only upon acceptance by the NA the next instalments can be paid; Submission of Final Report- provides information on the entire implementation of the project, the results and the expenditures. The report assessment and rating are to determine whether partial or complete final payment would be made. The submission date falls two months after the end of the project. Audit - within 5 years of the final payment the National Agency or the European Commission may carry out an audit. A very important aspect of the management cycle, especially for the new programming period 2014-2020, is how sustainable the results are after the project closure. This means that an EU project should not only achieve its objectives, but it should also lead to sustainable public benefits - direct or indirect long-term positive effects for the EU citizens. Sustainability in this context means that crucial activities and results should be designed in a way, which would guarantee that it would continue to deliver benefits to the target groups, structures, sectors or systems after the project closure. This underlines the necessity of a comprehensive review and critical analysis of both – the project results and their relevance to the problem, stated in the proposal.
Logical Framework Approach for Project Design and Management
3 Introduction to the Logical Framework Approach for Project Design and Management 3.1 Overview of the Logical Framework Approach (LFA) The US Agency of International Development developed in the late 1960’s the Logical Framework Approach (LFA) in order to improve its project planning and evaluation system and to tackle with planning, managerial, distribution of tasks and assessment issues. Among the challenges that were faced are: vague planning, unclear, immeasurable and unrealistic objectives, ambiguous management responsibilities, adversarial evaluation process and purely defined project purposes. LFA turns out to be a successful solution to these issues, providing a core set of useful tools for high quality project implementation and assessment. Thus, the model is recognised by the EC as an essential part of the Project Cycle Management, officially used in the EU project management since 1993.
3.2 What is LFA? The LFA is defined as an analytical process and a set of tools used to support the project planning and the management processes. The method combines a set of interconnected concepts and repetitive processes, used to support the structured and systematic analysis of the project idea and/or objectives. Basically, the LFA is ‘help for reflection’, providing instruments for structuring and analysing a bulk of information to determine the key project questions, to identify the weaknesses, define the project rationale and pursued objectives in order to support the well-informed and sound decision-making process. LFA however should be distinguished from the Logical Framework Matrix (LFM); the latter being defined is a tool. In contrast, the LFA is an analytical process, incorporating analysis of stakeholders and challenges, setting of objectives and strategy selection. Indeed, while LFM or the so-called Logframe requires further analysis of the objectives, their implementation and the potential risks, it also provides a documented product of the analytical process. The LFM is made of a matrix with four columns and four (or more) rows, summing up key elements of a project plan, such as: • Project Description or Intervention Logic, namely the project’s hierarchy of objectives; • Assumptions, namely the key external factors crucial for the project’s success; • Indicators and Sources of Verification, namely the way how the project’s achievements will be monitored and evaluated. The Logframe also provides the basis for determining resource requirements (inputs) and costs (budget).
3.2 Link between Project Cycle and key PCM documents How is the LFA used in practice? • It is used in the identification phase of PCM in order to help analysing the existing situation, to investigate the relevance of the proposed project and to identify potential objectives and strategies; • During the formulation stage, the LFA supports the preparation of an appropriate project plan with clear objectives, measurable results, risk management strategy and defined levels of management responsibility; • During project/programme implementation, the LFA provides a key management tool to support contracting, operational work planning and monitoring; and • During the evaluation and audit stage, the Logframe matrix provides a summary record of what was planned (objectives, indicators and key assumptions), and thus provides a basis for performance and impact assessment. A common problem with the application of the Logframe Approach (particularly the preparation of the matrix) is that it is undertaken separately from the preparation of the other required project documents. This may then result in inconsistency between the contents of the Logframe matrix and the description of the project contained in the narrative of the main documents. The application of the LFA should come first, and then provide a base source of information for completing the required PCM documents. The LFA provides no magic solutions, but when understood and applied accordingly, it is a very effective analytical and managerial tool.
Fig. 1: Strengths and Common Problems with the Application of LFA ELEMENT STRENGTHS COMMON PROBLEMS Requires systematic analysis of problems, including cause Getting consensus on priority and effect relationships problems Provides logical link between Getting consensus on project Problem means & ends analysis and objectives Places the project within a objective broader development context Reducing objectives to a setting simplistic linear chain (overall objective and purpose) Inappropriate level of detail • Encourages examination of (too much/too little) risks and management accountability for results • Requires analysis of how to • Finding SMART (specific, measure the achievement of measurable, Indicators and objectives, in terms of both available/achievable in a cost source of quantity and quality effective way, relevant for the verification • Helps improve clarity and programme, and available in a specificity of objectives timely manner) indicators for
Helps in establishing the monitoring and evaluation framework
• Format and application
Links problem analysis to objective setting Emphasises importance of stakeholder analysis to • determine ‘whose problems’ and ‘whose benefits’ • Visually accessible and relatively easy to understand •
higher level objectives and for projects with ‘capacity building’ and ‘process’ objectives Establishing unrealistic targets too early in the planning process Relying on ‘project reports’ as the main ‘source of verification’, and not detailing where the required information actually comes from, who should collect it and how frequently Prepared mechanically as a bureaucratic ‘box-filling’ requirement, not linked to problem analysis, objective setting or strategy selection Used as a means of top-down control – too rigidly applied Can alienate staff not familiar with the key concepts Becomes a ‘fetish’ rather than a help
Source: PCM Guidelines p.59, European Commission, Europeaid Cooperation Office, March 2014
How to Prepare a Proposal
4 How to Prepare a Proposal 4.1 The analysis stage Prior to initiating detailed analysis with the stakeholder groups (field work), it is essential to involve experts during the project identification and design stage, who are sufficiently aware of the policy, sector and institutional context. This preliminary, Analysis Stage, contains four main elements, focused on the following items respectively: 1. Stakeholders 2. Problems 3. Objectives 4. Strategies
4.1.1 Stakeholders Analysis: ‘Stakeholders’ are all individuals, groups of people, institutions, private or public actors having a significant interest in the success or failure of a project or process. The key questions asked during the stakeholder analysis are ‘whose problems or opportunities are being analysed’, and ‘who will benefit or loose-out, and how, from a proposed project intervention’? Therefore, the final goal is to help maximize the social, economic and institutional benefits of the project towards target groups as well as direct/indirect beneficiaries. The key purpose of the stakeholders analysis is to understand and address distributional/equity concerns, particularly in the context of the needs of the target groups. One of the most powerful tools for conducting stakeholders’ analysis is the SWOT analysis, which defines the strengths of a particular organisation as well as the opportunities and the threats it might face. The SWOT comprises three main stages, namely: 1. Ideas are generated about the internal strengths and weaknesses of a group or organization, and the external opportunities and threats; 2. The situation is analysed by looking for ways in which the group/organisation’s strengths can be built on to overcome identified weaknesses, and opportunities can be taken to minimize threats; and 3. A strategy for making improvements is formulated (and then subsequently developed using a number of additional analytical planning tools).
Fig. 2: Example of SWOT table STRENGHTS ….. ….. …. OPPORTUNITIES ….. ….. …..
WEAKNESSES ….. ….. ….. THREATS ….. ….. …..
Identification of the SWOTs of the stakeholders is important because this analysis is likely to affect the task allocation in order to achieve high quality results and the actual definition of the objectives. Users of SWOT analysis need to ask and answer questions that generate meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to make the analysis useful and find their competitive advantage. 4.1.2 Problem Analysis Problem analysis identifies the negative aspects of an existing situation and establishes the ‘cause and effect’ relationships between the identified problems. It involves three main steps: 1. Definition of the framework and the subject of analysis; 2. Identification of the major problems faced by target groups and beneficiaries: a. What is/are the problem/s? b. Whose problems? 3. Visualisation of the problems in form of a diagram, called a “problem tree” or “hierarchy of problems” to help analyse and clarify cause–effect relationships.
The analysis should be presented in diagrammatic form showing effects of a problem on top and its causes underneath: the figure below shows a template for building a problems tree. The analysis is aimed at identifying the real bottlenecks that need to be overcome. Thus, a clear problem analysis provides a sound foundation on which to develop a set of relevant and focused project objectives.
Fig. 3: Focal problem – causes and effects
Effects of the Focal Problem
Causes of the Focal Problem
TIPS AND TRICKS Conduct an exhaustive background research about the problem to find valid and credible information. Potential web-sources: official reports and publications, academic research papers, press clippings. If possible conduct primary research through formal/informal interviews, surveys and etc. Ask for the opinion of the stakeholders and the potential partners. Make sure to exhaust all sources of information to conduct an adequate analysis.
Source: PCM Guidelines, European Commission, Europeaid Cooperation Office, March 2014
Once completed, the problem tree represents a summary picture of the existing negative situation. In many respects the problem analysis is the most critical stage of the project planning, as it then guides all subsequent analysis and decision-making on priorities. 4.1.3 Analysis of the Objectives Analysis of the objectives is a methodological approach applied to: • describe the situation in the future once identified problems have been remedied; • verify the hierarchy of the objectives; • illustrate the means/ends relationships in a diagram.
All ‘negative situations’ of the problem tree are shifted into solutions, turning into ‘positive achievements’. These positive achievements are in fact objectives, and should be presented in a diagram of objectives showing the means/ends hierarchy. This diagram aims at providing clear overview of the desired future situation. The main steps in the process are summarised below: • Step 1: Reformulate all negative situations of the problems’ analysis turned into positive situations that are desirable and realistically achievable;
Step 2: Check the means/ends relationships to ensure validity and completeness of the hierarchy (cause-effect relationships are turned into meansends); Step 3: If necessary: revise statements; add new objectives if these seem to be relevant and necessary to achieve the objective at the next higher level; delete objectives which do not seem suitable or necessary.
4.1.4 Analysis of the Strategies Some of the questions that need to be asked and answered at this stage include: • • • • • • • •
Should all the identified problems and/or objectives be tackled, or only few? What are the positive opportunities that can be built on (i.e. from the SWOT analysis)? What is the combination of interventions that are most likely to bring about the desired results and promote sustainability of the benefits? How the local ownership of the project is best supported, including development of the capacity of local institutions? What are the likely capital- and recurrent costs of the different possible interventions, and what can realistically be afforded? What is the most cost effective option(s)? Which strategy will have the most positive impact in terms of addressing the needs of the identified vulnerable groups? How could potential negative environmental impacts be mitigated or avoided?
Such analysis should be carried out as a repetitive learning process and an assessment of the undertaken strategies should be provided on a regular basis, so as every milestone could be overcome. For example, while stakeholders’ analysis must be carried out early in the process, the strategy must be reviewed and refined as new questions are asked and new information comes to light. At this stage, or as part of the stakeholders’ analysis, it is also crucial to identify the right partners. Never leave this task for the last moment of the proposal stage; strive to find the right partners at idea generation stage. Besides the formal programme eligibility, the selected partners need to have the right skills and expertise to implement high quality results.
KEY QUESTIONS What skills’ gap should a partner fill in? What is required from the partnership? For example, the future project consortium might need: expertise, project management experiences, access to networks, lobbying support and financial resources among others. What type of organisation? What size? What industry? What services/expertise/products are required? What networks or intermediaries would give an added value?
TIPS AND TRICKS Prepare a very good presentation of your organisation and team, to approach the potential partner with a clear written request. Be very clear about the desired project outcomes, timelines and expected support, in order to enable the potential partner to take adequate decision. Be prepared to give further clarifications about the partners’ responsibilities and set appropriate expectations.
Once the partners’ requirements are clarified, managers can start searching for partners through their local networks, general web-search and/or use some of the following links to identify project partners (please note that this is not an exhaustive list of databases): A list of databases for partners’ search is provided by Eurodesk, on the following link: http://www.eurodesk.org/edesk/EUToolbox.do?go=7 LinkedIn also hosts groups with the same purpose. Some of these are presented here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Database-European-Partnership4108977/about 4.2 The Planning Stage
4.2.1 Drafting the Logframe Results of the analysis in the Planning Stage are adapted into a practical plan ready for implementation. The results of the stakeholder, problem, objectives and strategy analysis are used as the basis for preparing the Logical Framework Matrix. In this stage: • the Logframe matrix is prepared, requiring further analysis and refinement of ideas; • activities and resource requirements are defined and scheduled, and • a budget is prepared.
Generally, it is recommended that the matrix only includes the project Overall Objective, Purpose and Results, and that Indicative Activities be described/documented separately (i.e. using an activity schedule). Also, it is recommended that means and costs are not to be included in the Logframe matrix format, as there are more appropriate ways/places in which to resent this information.
Fig. 4: Typical structure of a logframe matrix PROJECT SOURCE OF INDICATORS DESCRIPTION VERIFICATION Overall Objective (OO) – The project’s How the OO is to be How will the contribution to measured including information be policy or Quantity, Quality, collected, when programme and Time? and by whom? Objectives (impact) Purpose – Direct benefits to the target group(s)
Results – Tangible products or services delivered by the project Activities – Tasks that have to be undertaken to deliver the desired results
How the Purpose is to be measured including Quantity, Quality, and Time?
How the results are to be measured including Quantity, Quality, and Time?
As above As above
If the Purpose is achieved, what assumptions must hold true to achieve the OO? If Results are achieved, what assumptions must hold true to achieve the Purpose? If Activities are completed, what assumptions must hold true to deliver the results?
This is an iterative process, as it may be necessary to review and revise the scope of project activities and expected results once the resource implications and budget become clearer.
TIPS AND TRICKS Try to turn the logframe into the cornerstone of the project design. It is important to start drafting the logframe from top to bottom. A common mistake is that managers often begin with the activities, being the easiest part, and then they try to fit in the ‘results’ and a ‘purpose’ for them. The logic is actually the other way around, i.e. the overall objective and the purpose of the project defines the expected results, which in turn entails the respective activities. The purpose of the project is at times challenging. Remember that the purpose is a consequence of the results and try to describe it in just one, but crisp and clear sentence.
Another tricky area is the definition of the indicators, being commonly mistaken for “targets”. Remember that the indicator is meant to provide evidence that something has happened. Thus, these need to be clearly defined, measured and realistic. Try to involve as many experts as possible; these might be partners, stakeholders and/or own staff. Test the logframe to ensure it has been built logically.
4.2.2 Activity, resource and cost schedule The Activity Schedule is a format for analysing and graphically presenting project activities. It helps to identify their logical sequence, expected duration, any dependencies that exist between activities, and provides a basis for allocating management responsibility. Once the Activity Schedule is prepared further specification of resources and scheduling of costs could begin. A useful tool to schedule activities can be the Gantt chart, a type of bar chart, developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s, that illustrates a project schedule. It is commonly used in project management, and it is one of the most popular and useful ways of showing activities displayed against time. On the left of the chart is a list of the activities and along the top is a suitable time scale. Each activity is represented by a bar; the position and length of the bar reflects the start date, the duration and the end date of the activity. This allows you to see at a glance: What the various activities are When each activity begins and ends How long each activity is scheduled to last Where activities overlap with other activities, and by how much The start and the end date of the whole project To summarize, a Gantt chart shows you what has to be done (the activities) and when (the schedule).
Fig 5: Example of a Gantt Chart TASK 2012 2013 Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Task 1: …………………. Sub-task1.1: ………….. Sub-task 1.2: ………….. Sub-task 1.3:…………… Task 2: …………………… Task 3:
…………………… Sub-task 3.1: ………….. Sub-task 3.2: ………….. Besides the timing of the activities, in transnational and other complex projects implemented by consortium of partners, it is also useful to have a task division scheme that allows you to make a summary of activities and responsibilities. Fig 6: Example of a task division scheme TASK Partner 1 Task 1: …………………. X Sub-task1.1: ………….. X Sub-task 1.2: ………….. X Sub-task 1.3:…………… Task2: …………………… X Task 3:…………………… Sub-task 3.1: ………….. Sub-task 3.2: ………….. X
Partner 2 X X X X
X X X
Partner4 Partner 5 X X X X X X X X X
4.3.3 A checklist to prepare an activity schedule Once the Logframe matrix itself is complete, it is then possible to use the identified Activities (which may or may not be actually included in the matrix itself) to further analyse issues of timing, dependency and responsibility using an activity scheduling (or Gantt Chart) format. A step-by-step approach for the preparation of a detailed activity schedule can be followed: Step 1 – List the Main Activities The main Activities identified through the Logframe analysis are a summary of what the project must do in order to deliver the project’s results. These can therefore be used as the basis for preparation of the Activity Schedule which helps to specify the possible stages and the duration of the key activities.
Step 2 – Break Activities Down into Manageable Tasks The purpose of breaking Activities down into sub-activities or tasks, is to make them sufficiently simple to be organised and managed easily. The technique is to break down an Activity into its component sub-activities, and then to take each sub-activity and break it down into its component tasks. Each task can then be assigned to an individual, and becomes their short-term goal. This step may be time-consuming and thus some managers might prefer to complete it once the financing is approved and the project implementation phase has commenced. However, please note that the detailed
description of each and every task during the planning stage ensures better understanding, clear definition, adequate allocation of resources, and sound costs calculations of each project Activity. Step 3 – Clarify Sequence and Dependencies Once the Activities have been broken down into sufficient details, they must be related to each other in order to determine their: • Sequence - in what order should related Activities be undertaken? • Dependencies - is the Activity dependent on the start-up or completion of any other Activity?
Step 4 – Estimate Start-up, Duration and Completion of Activities Specifying the timing involves making a realistic estimation of the duration of each task, and then building it into the Activity Schedule to establish the most appropriate start-up and completion dates. However, it is often not possible to estimate timing with great confidence. To ensure that the estimations are at least realistic, those who have the necessary technical knowledge or experience should be consulted. Step 5 – Summarise Scheduling of the Main Activities Having specified the timing of the individual tasks that make up the main Activities, it is useful to provide an overall summary of the start-up, the duration and the completion of the main Activity itself. Step 6 – Define Milestones Milestones can provide the basis, on which the project implementation is monitored and managed. They are key events that provide a measure of progress and a target for the project team to aim at. The simplest milestones are the dates estimated for completion of each Activity – e.g. training needs assessment completed by January 20xx.
Step 7 – Define Expertise When the tasks are known, it is possible to specify the type of expertise required. Often the available expertise is known in advance. Nonetheless, this provides a good opportunity to check whether the action plan is feasible given the human resources available.
Step 8 – Allocate Tasks among the Team Members This involves more than just saying who does what. With task allocation comes the responsibility for overcoming the milestones. In other words, it is a way of defining the accountability of each team member. Task allocation should therefore take into consideration the abilities, skills and experience of each member of the team. When delegating tasks to team members, it is important to ensure that they understand what is required of them. If not, the level of detail with which the relevant tasks are specified may have to be increased.
4.3.4 Preparing resource and cost schedules Cost estimates should be based on careful and thorough budgeting. They will have significant influence over the investment decision at project appraisal and subsequently on the smooth implementation of the project once the go-ahead is given.
At the beginning it is necessary to make an assessment of all available resources as well as realistic and accurate appraisal of incomes. Then it is necessary to estimate the required resources and the foreseen costs (Costs = quantity per unitary cost). Costs may be distinguished in the following two groups: ď‚ˇ Variable costs: these vary proportionally with the volume of activities. ď‚ˇ Fixed costs: do not vary depending on the activities
Again, the list of Activities should be copied into a Resource Schedule pro-forma.
Each Activity should then be used as a checklist to ensure that all necessary resources/inputs required under that Activity are provided for. Budgeting of management activities should not be forgotten at this stage.
Once the Activities have been placed into the schedule, the required resources to implement the Activities must be specified.
As there might be a need to aggregate or summarise the cost information, the resources should be allocated to clearly defined cost categories. For example, in the following figure the activity of establishing a Planning Unit requires Equipment, Salaries and Allowances. The Units, Quantity per Period, and estimated Unit Cost should then be specified. If entered on a spreadsheet, Cost per Period and Total Project Cost can be calculated using simple formula. Project costing should allow the costs allocation between the different funding sources so that each party has clarity about their respective contributions. The code for Funding Source can then be used to sort all costs and to determine respective totals. Those providing funding for the project are likely to have cost codes for each established cost category. By specifying the Cost Code, costs can again be sorted to determine total cost by cost category. It is now possible to schedule cost per planning period using simple formula to multiply the annual quantity by the unit cost. Once Total Costs have been calculated, it is important to remember that the implementing agency will be required to meet any recurrent costs of maintaining service provision beyond the life of the project. Recurrent Costs may be covered (fully or partly) through increased revenue that has been generated through project Activities. Whether or not this is the case, it is important that the net recurrent cost implications of the project are clearly specified so that the future impact on the implementing agencyâ€™s budget can be determined.
Projects co-funded by the European Union are a subject to financial reporting, which means collection, organisation and presentation of all incurred costs evidences. The financial report must be accompanied by a report on the management and
implementation of the activities and the description of the results. A sample resource table is presented below: Fig 7: Preparing a resource schedule
4.3.4 Preparing the proposal Once the logframe and the budget have been completed, filling in the proposal application form is easier as the main ideas are already jotted down and logically verified. However, this task has its own peculiarities as the forms are quite long and detailed. Each Call for Proposal is supported by thorough guidelines which must be followed strictly. Even though the tips and tricks provided below seem obvious and rather logical, these are often neglected by those who write the proposals.
TIPS AND TRICKS: Carefully read and understand all the details in the Guidelines and the accompanying documents; Fill in diligently each and every section of the Application Form, following the guidelines and strictly keep the word limits; EU projects proposals are large and time consuming to design, thus, be aware of the submission deadline and envisage enough buffer time for the final proof read; Take into consideration the evaluation and the selection procedure and criteria, as it helps understand where the proposal focus should be. Make sure that the following items meet the eligibility criteria: o eligibility of applicants; o partnerships and eligibility of partners; o eligible actions - actions for which an application may be made; o eligibility of costs - costs which may be taken into consideration for the grant. Procure, sign and stamp all the required documents, as required by the Agency. Get a second opinion on the finalized proposal. Remember, it is at times tough to spot your own mistakes and logical flaws, especially for long and complex documents. Avoid submitting the proposal at the very last moment; try to have finalized it at least 3 to 5 days before the actual deadline. Last but not least, a well written proposal keeps long and hectic implementation days away!
5. Contractual aspects
5.1 Responsibilities of the Coordinator The person responsible for the overall project management is the Project Coordinator. Usually, the beneficiary organization or institution, responsible for the implementation of the project by the consortium, is in charge of this position. Project coordination means to manage project activities so as to ensure smooth tasks implementation and accomplishment of envisaged goals and objectives. The coordinator is responsible for task definition and work allocation, timely project scheduling and time management, internal and external communication. Another important aspect is to monitor the project tasks implementation, to ensure deliverables’ quality and successful team performance. The Project Coordinator should be skilled and qualified to guide team and consortium members as well as to plan and coordinate administrative and operational activities. One of the most important aspects in Project coordinator’s work is assisting the project’s team members in their individual contributions to the project. Also, this person has to negotiate, monitor, evaluate and propose project implementation methodology. The position of Project Coordinator requires high level of independent judgment. This person has to ensure that people and resources deployed to completing the project goals are used appropriately. In case of a change of the appointed Project Coordinator, the project consortium needs to follow a specific EU procedure. In such situation an official letter should be sent, informing the National Agency about the reasons for the change and stating that the project partners have no objections on that. The letter is essential to include a description of the competences and the experience of the new Coordinator, as well as his/her contact details.
5.2 Grant Agreement The agreement between the National Agency and the applicant selected for a grant award is called Grant Agreement. The document sets the terms and conditions, as well as the financial rules, which are to be applied for the use of the grant. The selected applicant becomes a beneficiary through signature of the Agreement. A project begins after signing the Agreement, and continues with the work plan. The Grant Agreement also sets the eligibility period of the project activities, the maximum Community contribution to the project costs, as well as the co-financing mechanism. In case there is a need for modifications to the Grant Agreement during the project’s lifetime, one may send a request for an amendment to the National Agency. There is a specific requirement in the Grant Agreement, which stipulates how long after the project end the project records must be kept. In case of termination of a Grant Agreement, the National Agency may decide to terminate the Agreement without any indemnity on its part. Another scenario for termination is if the beneficiary fails to fulfil a substantial obligation incumbent on him
under the terms of the Agreement, including its annexes.
5.3 Partnership Agreement An agreement between all participants in a certain project (beneficiary and partners) is called Partnership Agreement. It has to be signed by all partner organizations in order to have reasonable assurance that the project will be implemented in conformity with the provisions of the Grant Agreement. Its purpose is to govern a number of issues that may arise during the projectâ€™s lifetime, such as: collaboration methods, financial provisions, intellectual property rights and other tasks. Partnership Agreement is highly recommended for all projects. It is important to note that the Partnership Agreement is deemed to be signed after signing the Grant Agreement.
Project Management, Monitoring and Reviewing
Project Management, monitoring and reviewing
6.1 Project Management Managing projects funded by the European public bodies assumes adhering to particular rules, as these are powerful EU instruments supporting the Community Policies on economic and social cohesion. In spite of these managerial guidelines, project coordination can have many faces depending on the purpose and the context of the activities that have been implemented. In general, managing a project is considered the process of working with a set of human, material and financial resources, organized and structured in a hierarchical order, aimed at implementing the integrated activities, with specific goals and over a certain period of time. In the context of the activities, EU projects may entail specific actions related to the act of helping, advising, training, supporting, stimulating, educating, empowering or teaching selected vulnerable target groups and/or transferring and adapting best practices and methodologies among many others. Therefore, before commencing a new project, EU project managers need to make sure that the following conditions are in place: Relevance: Verify that the project objectives are valid, considering the problems and interests of the actors involved. Coherence: Check if the decisions that have been taken are appropriate and in accordance with the external context of the project. Consistency: Check if there is in congruency with the different elements of the project, such as: objectives, results, activities, timelines, and resources. Financial viability: Determine whether the resources allocated are sufficient for the development of the activities; Efficiency: Analyse the relationship between the generated results and the mobilized means (financial, human, and institutional); Effectiveness: Assess whether the results that have been obtained would help in achieving the desired goals; Sustainability: Appreciate to what extent the decision making would be effective, even after the project has been terminated. This is a guarantee for the successful implementation of the project strategy and the activities.
6.1.3. The project implementation Officially, the start of the implementation phase of an EU project is announced once the proposal has been approved and the contract has been signed. At this stage, the project coordinator starts mobilizing the planned resources by establishing teams, which would implement strategies and tasks, and would also design and produce project materials, monitor the project progress, lead the internal and the external communication, prepare the financial and the progress reports, manage any possible changes and risks, and cope with the challenges that may occur. Thus, the implementation phase comprises three main steps with specific activities (EuropeAid Cooperation Office 2004):
Step 1: Inception Period The implementation phase starts here with the following preparatory activities: a) Completion of contract procedures: contracts and regulations issued by the regulating authority for particular measure/action. b) Definition of human and material resources: adjustments are made by taking into account the incurred changes between the funding requests and the project approval (approval terms, partner change, timing, resources). c) Establishment/maintenance of working relationships with stakeholders, in which it is desirable to predict/put an internal communication plan into action, in order to ensure the transparent and fluid circulation of information and to effectively engage the stakeholders. d) Review and update the action plan, specifically if there are discrepancies in the originally formulated activity plan timeline, compared to the current plan. e) Monitoring and evaluation of the project plan. f) Hold inception workshops. Step 2: Implementation of the project, through which the project manager, on an ongoing basis, must: a) Recruit and involve staff as well as provide the required equipment for the implementation of the activities; b) Implement activities and deliver results; c) Monitor and review the project´s progress; d) Re-plan the project; e) Draft progress reports. Step 3: Phase Out Conditions for sustainability should be ensured during the project development stage, particularly before entering the final phase. The project sustainability is a key criteria that defines the success (or not) of the intervention, and usually answers one of the reference questions related to the assessment of the project sustainability, namely: “after its conclusion, to what extent does the impact of the project persevere?” The answer to this question lies in the project manager’s ability to ensure that the following activities are met during the project’s phase out, namely: a) Make the project suitable for local partners, particularly with regard to the fulfilment of their responsibilities; b) Ensure that maintenance plans are in place; c) Ensure that the skills acquired during the intervention are transferred; d) Make an effort to ensure covering the ongoing costs.
Based on the steps outlined above, project managers have the following responsibilities:
1. Monitoring and periodic revision of the project progress and respective work package results, in order to ensure that the proposal tasks are successfully and timely implemented (See chapters 6.2. and 6.3, which contain detailed presentation on project monitoring).
2. Plan and re-plan the project Even projects with structured planning are likely to encounter problems during their implementation due to changes in environmental conditions, alterations in the requirements and/or modifications of the target-groupsâ€™ needs, among others. Therefore, it is essential that the manager is equipped with tools that would assist the smooth project implementation, easy re-planning and effective risk management. Fig. 7: The Re-planning Process
Source: Europe Aid, PCM Guidelines, p. 42 3. Report the physical and financial implementation of the project to the various project stakeholders, such as funders, stakeholders, project team etc. (see Chapter 6.3.)
TIPS AND TRICKS Establish an efficient communication system: Remember that one of the main reasons why partnerships fail and do not lead to successful results is the lack of clear and timely communication; Provide clear Partnership Agreements, stipulating all the rights and responsibilities of the partners; Use the kick-off meeting to confirm implementation arrangements, work plans, and the internal communication strategy; Distribute equally and carefully the tasks between partners, based on their skills and expertise; make sure there is no double work; Ensure that all partners have access to the necessary project documents; Make sure that tasks are clearly and thoroughly explained and everyone understands their role in the project; Establish sound and clear system for work allocation and progress tracking to guide the partners; Remind the deadlines on time; Stick to crisp and clear communication style and avoid too complex sentences; Try to involve partners as much as possible by asking for feedback, opinions and suggestions; Prioritize transparency with project partners, especially on administrative and financial issues.
Manage yourself and your team: Establish a functioning project team and try to make them accountable for the project’s progress and reporting. Design a good management plan, providing benchmarks to assess performance, quality and efficiency; this is a pre-requisite to the effective monitoring, review, and evaluation. Maintain good quality and task implementation records. Project plans should be always compared with the achieved results as this enables timely implementation of corrective measures (if required). Make sure that these records are simple and practical to allow regular updates easily. Consider who needs what type of information and avoid overwhelming the team with irrelevant information. Draft guidelines for specific tasks, based on partners' background. Provide templates for the documents; specify the font size, document structure, specific formats etc., and make sure that all partners are following these formatting guidelines. Otherwise the merging, formatting and editing of the final documents may turn into a nightmare. Ensure that the tangible results are consistent in terms of style, units, statistics, presentation, etc. This is an added value for the users of the project’s results.
Avoid piling up work for the very last moment. Such a strategy usually leads to a lower quality. Strictly follow the dissemination guidelines and rules provided by the European Commission. Remember that dissemination and sustainability are very important aspects of the EU projects, thus, frivolous project popularization is not tolerated. Proper organization of the project’s documents. EU projects run over a period of 1-3 years and people tend to forget. 6.1.4. Working Tools The process of project implementation requires ongoing evaluation to determine whether the actual project results are aligned with the objectives, meet the quality expectations and are on the right track. In order to successfully implement a particular EU project, the manager needs to employ a set of efficient methodologies which facilitate the collection and the systematization of information, support not only the analysis, but also the decision-making process. The following tools, some of which already presented in this guide, are quite useful for EU project management: 1. Logframe matrix (see chapter 3); 2. Activity plan (see chapters 4.1. and 6.3); 3. Progress reports (see chapter 6.3); 4. Risk management matrix. 188.8.131.52. Risk management matrix
The project risk management should be implemented during the project conception stage and if necessary is revised during the implementation. The risk analysis is applied during the conception phase, by identifying the assumptions of the Logframe Matrix. It allows assessment of the importance of the assumptions as either “high/reduced impact” and/or “high/reduced probability”. For example, if an assumption on the level of specific or general objective is assessed to have high impact and high probability, it is considered a “killer assumption”. This implies that an alternative should be found, as otherwise the viability of the project could be jeopardized.
Fig. 8 Risk Analysis Grid (Ulrich Schiefer 2006) High
The risk analysis matrix PROBABILITY Rare Improbable Possible Probable Total
IMPACT Moderate High
In fact, there should always be a plan B and even a Plan C, which does not imply that the project is being completely abandoned, because an assumption worth is largely due to its uncertainty and probability, so that the scenario may be the reverse to what was forecasted and things may go better without the assumption happening. However, the analysis and ongoing review of the project risks should be a systematic practice during project management and ensures that the necessary measures have been taken to minimize the negative effects that the risks may have on the project performance.
Risk Management Matrix ASSUMPTIONS
RISK MANAGEMENT DETERMINANT
Intervention Assumptions Relevance of Risks Logic Probability Impact General Objective Specific Objective Results Activities
Risk Management Measures
6.1.5 Useful Online Tools for Project Management Coordination, collaboration and managerial skills play a major role in EU project management, as project outcomes are highly affected by the initial project planning as well as the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the implemented tasks and tangible results. Fortunately, the contemporary managers can now opt for a variety of free and/or paid online tools, which optimize the complex EU project coordination process. Nowadays, the cloud computing and the software services offer a wide spectrum of management products, which make information sharing, collaboration, coordination and communication, much easier. This is especially useful for the intranational EU projects since these usually link at least three EU countries. Among others, the available IT tools allow the online management of the following project activities: Content Sharing & Collaboration (CS) Communication (CM) Scheduling & Resource Allocation (RA) Cost Control & Budget Management (BM) Integration Capabilities (IC) IT Project Support
Pricing model of these tools can be free as well as under subscription - yearly, monthly or one-time based etc. Further, no universal tool currently exists, this is why users need to make a good choice of a set of tools and try to integrate them in the best possible manner. This section outlines a list of relevant tools and provides a brief description of their functionalities.
A) Intergrated Solutions Google + Web Site: www.google.com Category: Project Management Platform Pricing Model: Free, option to upgrade with a monthly fee to more GDrive Space and Corporate email. Those include a wide range of tools for online collaboration, content management, communication etc. It can also be “stretched” to support the rest of the functionalities: Google Hangouts It is a communication platform, used for online meetings with multinational partners, photo and video sharing, screen sharing, etc. Gmail Google’s online email platform. Google Docs This is one of the best online Content Sharing platforms, which offers not only documents’ sharing, but also real-time collaboration by allowing multiple people to create, share and edit the same file (word, excel and presentation formats). Therefore, many people are using it to co-author documents, which comes in quite handy for EU Projects. Further, the google sheets could also be used to manage financial sheets and information. A very useful tutorial on Google Drive and Docs is available here: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/googledriveanddocs Google Calendar An online calendar/time management solution for keeping track of time events, notifying event participants. Google Drive A Document Sharing Solution, offering 15GB free storage space, which can be increased to 30GB should other Google work/school apps be used. The applications offer good and safe solution for storage and documents organisation. Google Apps A set of additional tools that can be used for various tasks in the context of EU Project Management, especially since they offer online collaboration. These apps are integrated within Google Drive and are made available via Google Drive Platform. Some of the tools considered to be relevant to the EU projects are listed below. Gannter Project: A tool that offers design and management of Gannt diagrams. Zoho Writer: Office application Integration with Zoho Office Mind Map: Concept sketching diagram tool
WireFrame: For generating application mock-ups Simple Project Management Coordinate Everything Please note that this list is being updated on a regular basis, and users are encouraged to browse occasionally for new apps.
All of the applications mentioned above are tightly integrated with each other and require a google/google+ account. However, the google-based security of these apps is sometimes criticized. Also, many additional systems offer the option to use their platform by logging in using a google account. Microsoft Office 365 Web Site: office.microsoft.com Category: Project Management Platform Pricing Model: On a subscription basis per user.
Microsoft offers a set of tools which are also used for Project management. Until recently, Microsoft was targeting mostly desktop, while currently, it offers software for both Desktop and Browser, namely the office 365 platform. The disadvantage compared to Google is that it is subscription based. Office Online (Office 365) Their popular office suite is brought online allowing online coauthoring. Not to mention that it has the best office document compatibility. Outlook The online email platform. Project Online Migration of their Microsoft project suite online. Skype Microsoft integrates tightly with Skype for online communication and net meetings One Note An alternative to Evernote for capturing and sharing notes.
Zoho Project Web Site: www.zoho.com Category: Project Management Platform Pricing Model: a) Limited free apps and content, and b) User based subscription scheme Award-winning online business, productivity and collaboration apps, offering solutions for business processes, information and resource management as well as storage and sharing services, among others. The toolset contains numerous modules for Collaboration (chat, meeting, wiki and etc.), Business Related (campaigns, contact, CRM, market place and etc.) and Productivity Related (sheet, calendar, notebooks and etc.). A core component of this platform is the Microsoft office compatibility, allowing for simultaneous online editing of documents. Zoho is also well integrated into other document management platforms, such as Wiggio and GDrive. Some of the features are presented below: Zoho Docs Solution to create, manage, organize, share and collaborate on documents. It integrates into other file sharing solutions, such as Dropbox , Google drive, and Wiggio, among others. Zoho Projects Allows task management, task allocation, setting up deadlines, and progress tracking. Discussions and Meetings Tools for effective online communcation and online hosting of meetings Wiki Wiki tool for wiki-style-knowledge sharing SmartSheet Web Site: www.wiggio.com Category: Project Management Platform Pricing Model: Free
SmartSheet is a good alternative to Zoho. It offers a number of functionalities, such as task management, calendars, files, online editing of documents, and discussions - all accessible from any device. It does not support Gantt, but it provides a Work Break Down Functionality of projects and tasks.
B) Additional Project Management Tools The platforms listed above are offering integrated solutions for the entire project cycle. There are other platforms offering single solutions, which can support Microsoft or other products used by managers. Some of these tools, offering complementary functionalities in the context of the EU Project Management, are presented below.
Dropbox Web Site: www.dropbox.com Category: Document Shared Space Pricing Model: Free and an option for additional disk space with a monthly fee Dropbox is probably the most popular solution for online documentsâ€™ storage and sharing. It provides space of up to 2 GB for free which can be increased for negligible costs. Skype Web Site: www.skype.com Category: Communication Pricing Model: Free and an option for additional services, such as group video, etc.
This application does not really need a presentation as it is one of the most popular online real-time communication and messaging tools used by both private and corporate users. The paid skype version offers much better connection and additional services. Wiggio Web Site: www.wiggio.com Category: Document Shared Space Pricing Model: Free
Wiggio is an alternative to some Google products. The platform offers document sharing and storage, calendar, email and messaging, among others. Basically everything one may need in order to work productively in groups. The advantage of Wiggio is that it can be linked to Microsoft Outlook and users can send and receive emails in their corporate mail server, as well.
Evernote Web Site: www.evernote.com Category: Information Sharing Pricing Model: Free; optional upgrade for information sharing and collaboration.
Evernote is another collaborative platform for sharing information, ideas, notes, sketches and bookmarks, as well as building corporate sketchpad of ideas. It offers handy collaboration features, being also compatible with mobile devices. The WebClipping functionality is quite useful for saving information directly from the browser for later reference. Asana Web Site: www.asana.com Category: Task Management Pricing Model: Free; web and mobile application designed to enable teamwork without email A project management tool used to administer projects as well as to assign, monitor and manage tasks and teams. The app provides thread based communication and allows documents sharing in the context of each task/thread. The system also notifies users about deadlines. Survey monkey Web Site: www.surveymonkey.com Category: Online Survey Pricing Model: Free for a limited number of questionnaires, upgrade is optional for a higher quantity of surveys.
Survey Monkey is probably the most popular solution for online surveys. The tool does not only create, administrate and distribute surveys, but it also merges the individual results and presents them in a huge variety of formats, to suit almost any analysis needs.
Confluence Web Site: www.atlassian.com/software/confluence Category: Wiki Pricing Model: Free for up to ten users; pricing scheme for more users A wiki-like software useful for storing project information and materials in online pages format. This functionality is also offered by a combination of Google docs, for example. However there are still more advantages, such as better cross document indexing.
MediaWiki Web Site: http://www.mediawiki.org Category: Wiki Pricing Model: Free A free wiki software solution (Wikipedia is based on this platform). Free alternative to confluence although content co-authoring is a bit trickier. OpenProject Web Site: http://www.openproject.org Category: Project Planning Pricing Model: Free A Desktop based Project Management solution for generating Gannt Diagrams. Very good compatibility with microsoft project.
C) Timesheet & Time Tracking Tools
The Timesheet & Time Tracking Tools offer time management services, in particular to create timesheets, accounting spreadsheets and other time/resource management documents. Some of these apps services are presented below. ClickTime Web Site: www.clicktime.com Category: Timesheet management and Time Tracking Pricing Model: Commercial BeeBole Web Site: beebole.com Category: Timesheet management and Time Tracking Pricing Model: Commercial Mindsalt Web Site: www.mindsalt.com Category: Timesheet management and Time Tracking Pricing Model: Commercial
D) Agile IT Project Management
In addition, modern project management techniques, such as Agile project management, follow leaner development cycles and embrace the concept of Sprints rather than Waterfall model. These are commonly used for IT-intensive projects as they offer complex, IT-specific functionalities. YouTrack Web Site: www.jetbrains.com/youtrack Category: IT Project Management Pricing Model: Commercial This tool follows the Agile project management methodologies such as Scrum and Canban. Jira Web Site: www.atlassian.com/software/jira Category: IT Project Management Pricing Model: Commercial Jira is an issue tracking software for managing IT projects, which also contains a Scrum based plug-in called Grasshopper for managing Agile based projects. Summary In conclusion, EU project managers need to use a set of online tools to support their tasks. A summary of the available tools is presented below (please note that this is not an exhaustive list of online tools). File Sharing Information Sharing Online Authoring Task Management NetMeetings Task Tracking Project Planning TimeSheets IT Development Lifecycle
Dropbox, Google Drive, Wiggio, Microsoft Storage Wiggio, Confluence, Media Wiki, Google Docs, Office Docs Google Docs, Office 365, Zoho Office Asana, Zoho Task Management, SmartSheet, Office Project Skype, Google Hangouts Asana Office Project, Open Project, Gannt Diagrammer (Google Apps) ClickTime, Beebole, Time Plan, Google Sheets, Office Excel You Track, Jira
6.2.1 Project-based Monitoring System An important part of any project is the project monitoring, carried out by the beneficiary as well as by the managing authority, respectively the institution that manages and administers the program (further referred to as â€œManaging Authorityâ€?). The monitoring is a regular activity that systematically deals with the collection, sorting out, aggregation and filing of relevant information, which is necessary for the evaluation and the control of a project. It is performed continuously throughout the program, until the termination of all contracts under the program. Project monitoring is based on information, sourced from data provided by the beneficiary, materials related to the implementation of the program, as well as data from the information system, executing the administration of the program. This information can be used for estimating whether the project execution runs according to schedule and as set-out in the approved application form. If the execution is behind schedule, the monitoring system should show that interventions are necessary, in order to get the execution back on track. Both, the physical, and the financial progress or content of project activities, are monitored.
Monitoring is carried out at the project level and also at the program level. The project level information represents basic data for the preparation of the annual reports of the program for the European Commission. Outputs of monitoring are called monitoring reports. Monitoring reports Characteristics A comprehensive report by the beneficiary on the progress in the project activitiesâ€™ implementation, and other obligations under the contract; Objective To report on the project progress using measurable indicators, to report on the project schedule and financial status, to identify the problems and changes during the project implementation and to evaluate the project progress; Content and Standardized and binding for all parties involved in the monitoring form and the evaluation process; Submission In the periods determined by the Managing Authority and in the electronic form, in writing, together with attachments. Failure in submitting the monitoring reports is considered as a violation of the contract. The beneficiary is responsible for the accuracy, correctness, truthfulness and completeness of all information provided. Types a) Interim monitoring report b) Final monitoring report c) Project participants report d) Follow-up monitoring report
a) Minutes of project meetings b) Lists of attendance c) Photo documentation of carried out training activities d) Copies of newspaper articles e) TV or radio spots related to the project Information about the project, obtained during the monitoring of the project is being analyzed. Based on the assessment of the monitoring reports, the Managing Authority is entitled to carry out on-the-spot checks, to suspend the reimbursement requests for payment, demand repayment of financial contributions paid in the event of failure of the project indicators, reduce the contractually agreed level of financial contribution, withdraw from the contract, etc.
Characteristics of different types of monitoring reports: The following types of reports are submitted during the project implementation period: a) Interim monitoring report, submitted by the beneficiary during the implementation of the project activities, e.g. every 6 months up to the date fixed by the Managing Authority b) Final monitoring report, submitted by the beneficiary on a deadline, fixed by the Managing Authority from the closure of the project activities. The Final monitoring report is the last Interim report. c) Project participants report (only for some programs), the beneficiary is also required to submit separate information on the project participants during the implementation of the project activities (this is so, for each full calendar year within the period prescribed by the Managing Authority). The purpose of these reports is to determine the consistent and regular monitoring of the project implementation progress and the fulfilment of other contract requirements. After the end of the project a follow-up monitoring report must be submitted. d) Follow up monitoring report is submitted by the beneficiaries after the end of the project - within 5 years, or respectively 3 years (for projects that are subject of transactions, or which are subject to continuing investments or maintaining jobs created by SMEs). Follow up monitoring report contains data on the actual state, and maintaining the contractually set of measurable indicators of the project results.
6.2.2 Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs) The Objectively Verifiable Indicators are an essential tool for monitoring the progress of implementation and evaluation of the objectives of the program. These are used to evaluate the costs savings (minimizing the costs of carrying out the activity or procurement of goods, works and services while maintaining their appropriate level and quality), efficiency (maximizing the results of activities in relation to disposable public funds) and efficacy (the relationship between planned and actual results taking into account the utilized public funds) of funds allocated for the program. Objectively Verifiable Indicators are:
A. Program indicators, such as indicator values for particular program, representing the sum of project results and impact indicators B. Project indicators, applied on project level: ď€ project results indicators ď€ project impact indicators
Characteristics of project indicators ITEM PROJECT RESULT INDICATORS Characteristics Formalized projection of the direct and the immediate effects of aid (intervention), i.e. effects brought about by the project. Binding Impact
Indicator example Number in project Indicators not fulfilled Modification Sanctions
Requirements for the beneficiary
PROJECT IMPACT INDICATORS
Formalized projection of the consequences of the project, that goes beyond the immediate effects of the intervention. Reflects the planned projection of future changes which are likely to happen after the implementation of the project activities. Target values are binding Target values are not binding Depends on the The beneficiary has a minimal performance and the influence on them, or none at all. They activity of the beneficiary are influenced by the external environment (change of legislation, demand, etc.). Their values represent a reasonable estimation, which may not be met. Number of persons trained Number of jobs that sustained the in the project, number of agreed period, the number of people in the target groups registered unemployed who got involved in the project etc. employed due to the project, etc. Minimum 1 Minimum 1 Violation of the terms of contract It is possible only in objectively justified cases. Termination of the project, cuts of financial contribution, return of all provided funds, etc. Regular monitoring of project results indicators and their submission in interim monitoring reports
Not considered as violation of terms of contract It is not possible. None
Regular monitoring the impacts of the project and present values of impact indicators in follow up monitoring reports, including explanations of
to provide explanation in case of their failure.
Verification and Site visit
deviations against the planned values of indicators.
Purpose: to verify physical progress of activities within the project to verify that the expenditure declared was real, whether the goods, works or services were provided in accordance with the contract, whether the payment requests were correct and that the project and expenditure were in accordance with the European Union rules and generally binding legal regulations to void double financing of expenditures with other EU or national schemes and in the other programming periods to verify the economic effectiveness, and the efficacy of the provided support to verify the public procurement to verify publicity and information, etc. Types of verification: A. administrative verification B. site visit
A. ADMINISTRATIVE VERIFICATION (AV) AV of procurement of AV of payment request goods, services and Assessment of Assessment of works formal substantive correctness correctness Assessment of the rules Assessment of the Assessment of and the procedures laid application form eligibility, accuracy, down by the Public for payment feasibility, timeline of Procurement Act, where request and other expenditure in relation the Management relevant to the relevant Authority monitors in documentation expenditure and compliance with the annexed to the activity of a given fundamental principles application, i.e. project, to the place, of public procurement whether the time eligibility, target (equal treatment, nonapplication is group and an eventual discrimination of complete, correct duplicate expenditure tenderers, transparency, and fully filled in in relation to the efficiency and all respects. expenditure of the effectiveness). same beneficiary under other EC programs.
AV of other factors To obtain an objective information about the status and the progress of the project, and about all inspections of the project that have been carried out, etc.
B. SITE VISIT
To verify the nature of the projects, to check project organization and finances, to control necessary publicity and communication activities and to review whether the project activities are being successfully executed. Site visit covers the implementation of the project as a whole. Period In any phase of the project implementation or after the closure of a project. Subject to Project organization - division of tasks, project partners, administration control system; Progress of project - timing, reliability of progress report, indicators, publicity; Financial progress - expenditure, eligibility of costs, budget, fulfilment of the financial conditions, compliance rules for public procurement; Follow-up actions and other specific points and recommendations; 6.3 Progress Report and Updated Plans Is the project on the right track? This is the master-key that supports the entire monitoring process of a project, because it takes into account the social changes that arise from the project intervention. This is the important information that the team, stakeholders, funders, and most importantly, the project manager, need to know.
Thus, monitoring can be understood as a more or less continuous process of reviewing the progress of the activities, in comparison to the initial plan and by considering the implementation of various criteria, such as: a) Completion of the activity; b) Respect of deadlines and timings; c) Provision of programmed resources (human and material); d) To what degree the desired effects have been achieved; e) Level of budget execution; f) To what degree the objectives and the results have been achieved; g) Alterations that occurred within the context of the project development and that directly affect the activities;
The monitoring process should be designed during the project planning phase, based on the Logical Framework Matrix, which includes the Matrix measurements of the four levels of analysis: General Objective, Specific Objective, Activities and Results. In this sense, as discussed in the previous chapter, the formulation of clear objectives is vital to facilitate the monitoring process of the project results; therefore, it is a good practice to define the objectives using the SMART technique (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Related). In addition, according to the formulation and goals in the LFM, indicators must be defined and verified objectively, by describing the extent to which they are achieved. Respectively, indicators can be defined in accordance to their measurability: Quantitative indicators are measureable, and among others: number of trainees, number of publications produced, and rate of participation in a conference.
Qualitative indicators: cannot be measured even though these are objectively verifiable, for example: skills acquisition, changes in behaviour or habits, etc.
There is a wide variety of literature on how to formulate indicators, we suggest. According to the "Trade Unions and Transnational Projects: A guide to managing European Projects"1, after the project has been fully planned and conceived, the following monitoring steps must be ensured so that the information is properly reported: 1st Step - Collection and documentation of data (facts, observations and evaluations), which should take into account: a) The indicators of the objectives established at all levels of the LFM; b) Quality and appropriateness of activities and use of resources; c) Project environment, in which the verification indicators are analysed at the assumption level; d) Impact of the project; e) Relationship with the target-groups and partners.
2nd Step - Analysis and preparation of findings, determined by: a) Comparison between planned and executed results, including unexpected outcomes, identification, and analysis of deviations and conclusions; b) Comparison between the mechanisms of planned and current procedures, with regard to the project organization and the relationship with the target-groups, by identifying gaps and formulating conclusions. 3rd Step - Formulation of recommendations and proposed corrective actions in order to allow for adjustments, for example, among others: timing of activities, defined resources, objectives and project procedures and cooperation mechanisms.
Working Tools While preparing the steps above, there are several models used for keeping track of the project progress, which allow for better information synthesis, analysis and drawing conclusions, such as: a) Schedule in GANTT format: the use of a schedule in GANTT format allows a better overview of the project progress, and provides a complete analytical reading about what has been planned and what was carried out for a certain period of time in terms of activities, calendars, defined resources, budget, etc. It may have the following format (Ulrich Schiefer 2006): b)
MATERIAL COSTS RESOURCES
RESPONSIBLE OBS. PERSON
Chapter 6, "Trade Unions and Transnational Projects: A guide to managing European Projects" (European Trade Union Institute, (ETUI) 2012) 1
Activity 1 A1 executed Activity 2 A2 executed Activity 2 A2 executed Activity 3 A2 executed …
b) Descriptive report in a table format, based on the LFM structure, which permits reporting the project progress in a written format (EuropeAid Cooperation Office 2004):
Ref. RESULT, No DESCRIPTION 1.1.
Increased coverage of sewerage network No. of households and factories connected
PLANNED TARGET/ACHIEVEMENTS FOR THE REPORTING PERIOD
800 households and 10 400 households (50%) factories have been connected to main sewerage and all 10 factories (100%). Primary constraints have been: (i) willingness/ability of households to pay the connection fee; and (ii) some delays due to engineering works in residential areas due to Labour disputes.
Investigation required into householders ability/willingness to pay. To be conducted as a matter of urgency by water board and local government. Labour disputes require action by management of construction contractor. Contract penalty clauses to be applied.
The preparation of reports
Usually, funding bodies of the project provide guidelines for the preparation of reports, such as the content, format or instruct whether it is necessary to follow any specific model, including deadlines for the submission of the report, etc. This is one of the first steps to take into account in order to avoid duplications and parallel procedures and reports. The report is aimed at informing on the project progress as well as verifying if what has been stipulated and agreed upon as per proposal and contracts is later on implemented. Whether or not the funds have been spent appropriately is defined by the funding bodies.
Although reporting is considered a costly work process, in terms of time and resources, its importance should not be neglected. In many cases, there are substantial investments in the collection of information, but often there is a lack of systematization, organization and information analysis. Also, in the few cases when these are carried out, the information is not produced within a useful timeframe, and thus, it does not allow the implementation of decisions. The added value of any report lays on its usefulness as a support tool where information is systematized and organized and where massive amounts of information can be interpreted by transforming the information into useful knowledge that permits the continuous improvement of the intervention. What reports should be produced? How often? The answer to this question depends on the nature and the duration of the project; however, the reports may be of the following types:
1. An inception report: elaborated three months after the project begins, focused on situations of particular importance, such as: substantial changes between what was planned and what will be accomplished, for example: calendar/schedule, team, partners, among others. 2. Progress report: elaborated on a biannual basis.
3. Annual report: it applies to multiannual projects and it should include the project progress, especially in terms of activities and results, required alterations and their effects, accompanied by an outline of the project annual revisions, which reflect improvement/corrective actions.
4. Final report: it is elaborated at the end of the period of the project funding and it contains all the required information for an integrated view of the implementation of the project, allowing recommendations, lessons learned and follow-up actions to be formulated. In order to know what are the most important issues that should be addressed by the report, it is necessary to answer the following questions (Ulrich Schiefer 2006):
1. Whom is the report for? What are their characteristics? What information do they need to have? 2. What is the type of the written document? What are the features of this document? 53 3. What is the purpose of the document and how is it useful? 4. When and how often should the report be elaborated?
During the elaboration of the report, various actors should be taken into account, specifically those who have direct interest in "reading" the report, such as: targetgroups, stakeholders, team/project managers, sponsoring organizations (national and international partner organizations), financing entities, and national and transnational authorities. In this sense, the report should be adapted in accordance to the different stakeholders, because writing techniques are different depending on the reader: for example, it is different to write for laypeople than for decision-makers and technicians, as it is different to write for people who are familiar with the project than for those who are unrelated to it, or for those who are receptive than for those who are sceptical.
TIPS AND TRICKS (by Ulrich Schiefer 2006): Adapt the report to the reader; Produce informative and useful documents, which meet the interests and the needs of the beneficiaries; Provide information, which is addressing the action, in order to provide conditions regarding adjustment measures and decision-making; Be objective, clear and thorough, because the use of clear and accessible language enhances the understanding of the report content; In order to facilitate the reading and the use of the document, it should contain synthesized elements, such as executive summaries, elements that facilitate the fast location of information (indexes), elements that allow better visualization of the documents (charts, tables, images, etc.); Organize and systematize the information, which enable the reader to easily find the information s/he needs; Bet on presentation, through the use of graphs, figures and diagrams that capture readers' attention and facilitates content reading and understanding; Find the proper size for the document: a small sized report might suggest that there are gaps in information and an excessive sized report may prove not to be very useful, therefore the correct size of the report depends on the type of audience it is prepared for. A good practice for elaborating an appropriate sized report is the rule on disaggregation levels: the abstract should contain information that is strictly essential, the executive summary contains key information, the body of the report should be brief and concise, and all detailed information should be referred in appendices, attachments or auxiliary documents;
Focus the text on what is the most important, avoid all information that is not directly related to the topic and may be referred to in footnotes, endnotes, attachments, etc.; Be assertive, clear and direct, avoid the use of evasive language that might weaken the understanding of the report contents; Be transparent. For example, recognize the limitations of the information collected, and explain the used methodologies used, as well as identify the encountered problems; Respect deadlines, because only through the elaboration of reports, stipulated for specific periods during the project implementation, is possible to adapt contents, to make decisions and consequently to take proper measures; Elaborate the executive summary carefully, allowing readers to understand the key messages in the report and its conclusions; Ensure the confidentiality of the information, particularly in reference to the different readers and the levels of information sharing. In addition, ensure restricted access to certain types of information that is considered confidential.
*Managing EU projects is a really complex task. Therefore, in a short guide, it is quite tough to provide exhaustive information and an overview of the subject from all relevant aspects. For additional information, Step4All recommends the following documents: Project Cycle Management Guidelines prepared for the European Commission and published by EuropeAid Cooperation Office in 2004. The guide is probably the most exhaustive document providing both theory and practical examples, backed up with sufficient visualizations of the main project cycle management processes. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/multimedia/publications/documents/tools/europeaid_ adm_pcm_guidelines_2004_en.pdf A Survival Kit for European Project Management, published by the Survival Kit consortium in 2004, funded by the EC. Even though the document refers to the Socrates programme, the former Lifelong Learning and current Erasmus+, the kit provides exhaustive management guides, accompanied with excellent visualizations. Available at: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/llp/erasmus_2000_2006/documents/survival_kit_EN_update d_version_2004.pdf Developing and managing EU projects, published by TACSO Regional Office in 2011, funded by the EC. The document is aimed to provide practical tips in EU project management in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The guide provides less theory; however it summarises best practices, practical examples and quotes from experts in the topic. Available at: http://www.tacso.org/doc/doc_manual_3.pdf Project Management T-Kit, published by the Council of Europe in 2000. This is a very cheerful project management guide for successful coordination of youth actions. Available at: http://issuu.com/juventudenaccion/docs/name3fe1a4
EU Project Management Roles
EU Project Management Roles
7.1 Project managers Project managers have a leading role in a project and the lack of experienced project managers could fail the project execution, although the coordinator has the biggest responsibility. Project managers have to monitor the whole project from the very first steps (partner search, planning, etc.) to the very final successful implementation. They are the decision makers who are trusted by the project promoters as well as the most important stakeholders, in this way they have full authority. They manage the resources (human, financial, and infrastructure) of the project, and all members of the project team should support their work. Nevertheless, it is recommended to separate professional management tasks and financial management tasks. The financial manager is on the same level as the project manager(s) on the organogram (or organisational chart) of the project team. In case of smaller projects, roles can be mixed and one person can be in charge of more functions. 7.2 Administrative staff The administrative staff is responsible for the correct filling of the official templates. Members of the staff create the list of requested documents, keep in touch with the other project partners, and check the received forms and annexes. Consequently, the role of the administrative staff is always very important during the preparation of a proposal. Once a project proposal has been approved, the administrative staffâ€™s task is to collect all the supporting documents from the very beginning of the project implementation in order to justify the incurred costs since the Commission can require proofs to verify the eligibility of the requested payments. The administrative staff is also responsible for the elaboration of timesheets, and for the promotion of the project managersâ€™ work (e.g., organisation of events; writing of meeting minutes; etc.). Usually, the administrative staff consists of 1-2 persons per project partner. 7.3 Technical experts/implementers Technical experts provide information on the project description during the preparation of the project proposal. They are the intellectual authors of the project since they have the necessary experience and knowledge concerning the specific target groups, markets, developments, etc. They might ensure the audit reports including data concerning rate of returns as well. Certain calls stipulate the involvement of experts on specific subjects (e.g., environmental education specialist, marketing expert, etc.).
7.4 Communication experts Not all project teams have the opportunity to employ a person for communication tasks; however, there are always mandatory communication activities in each project. In these cases, a member of the administrative staff or one of the project managers undertakes the role of the communication expert. Nevertheless, in bigger and more complex
projects it is strongly advised to involve a communication expert in the project team whose general tasks are the following: elaboration of the different communication materials (e.g., information brochures, flyers, e-newsletters); writing of the press releases and articles; taking care of media relations by following the instructions of the visual identity manual; organising press conferences and project meetings; checking the subcontractors (if applicable). 7.5 Evaluators Basically, the project managers and the technical experts provide the quality assurance of the proposal and the project implementation as well, thus, lots of organisations do not employ internal evaluators. Nevertheless, the quality assurance can be provided by a third person within the project team.
Administrative and Financial Management
8 Administrative and Financial Management Financial and Administrative management is one of the most important and must-becareful aspects in EU funded projects. In the first place, the budget table, prepared while applying to the agency, plays a very critical role in the proposal evaluation by the agency. If the budget table attached to the proposal is clear, realistic, effective and reasonable, this brings the proposal one step further in the evaluation process. However, providing a quality budget table only is not enough. It should be accompanied with an effective and feasible financial and administrative management policy which is to be established by the coordinator and confirmed by the partners. Even if an organization implements a very successful set of activities within a framework of a project, it may have problems with the agency and its partners because of a poor financial management policy. Therefore, one of the first things to discuss and conclude during the preparation phase of the project is establishing a financial policy with the approval of all the partners.
The European Commission has adopted two main approaches to deliver its funds. The first one is the centralized approach, through which the direct funds are allocated. The Education Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) is responsible for the management of certain parts of the EU's direct programmes in the fields of education, culture, audiovisual, sport, citizenship and volunteering. The other funding approach is for the decentralized programmes, financed by the structural EU funds. These are managed by authorized national ministries and/or agencies, under the strict monitoring and control of the Commission. The reporting guidelines provided in this Short Guide 3, refer to the centralized EU projects, as the reporting for the decentralized ones is a subject to national reporting rules. Detailed information and related Financial Guides can be found in each programme section on the website of EACEA: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/index_en.php
8.1 The role of the administrative management in a project Administrative management is also as important as the financial management. It refers to some crucial aspects in the overall project management: ď‚ˇ Time management and deadlines or what to do and when to do it: The Coordinator is to set up corresponding deadlines for the financial activities and the partners need to respect the timescales and deadlines set by the coordinator. Those are the key points ensuring that the consortium can comply with the deadlines set by the Agency. ď‚ˇ Collecting evidence for eligible expenses: Each project has different evaluation and audit timescales during the implementation phase. Generally, the European Commission might demand for quarterly progress reports, interim reports as well as final report, based on the specific project needs. The coordinator is
expected to declare the eligible costs paid within the scope of the project and also the proof of the payments to the beneficiaries or subcontractors. Making proposal amendments whenever required: It is at times inevitable to avoid plan changes during the implementation process. These modifications may be due to different reasons, among others including: o Inclusion of a new partner and/or withdrawal of existing partner o Scheduling of additional management meetings o Demanding for deadline extension from the Agency o Transferring money from one budget heading to another etc. o Providing financial guidance to the partners: The coordinator should provide financial assistance to the project partners. The guidance and the financial policy should be very clear, detailed equal for the entire consortium. o Reporting: One of the most difficult tasks during project implementation phase is filling in the report forms. The coordinator is expected to collect the required financial documents from all partners and draft the respective reports. The partners should cooperate with the coordinator and contribute to the reporting process. (Details on the reporting process is provided in chapter 8.3)
8.2 Budget Headings Preparing a sound budget is really crucial for each project. However, the budget implementation and financial reporting according to the financial rules of the granting agency is equally important. The main headings of the EU project budgets are summarised below:
A. Direct Costs: A.1. Staff Costs (“Intellectual Outputs” in Erasmus+): Staff costs refer to the costs for the personnel taking part in the project implementation. Basically, the European Commission distinguishes between four main types of personnel: Manager, Researcher/Teacher, Technical and Administrative. The staff costs are calculated based on the working days defined in the Work Packages (WP) of the project proposal. The templates for all the reporting forms are provided by the Commission. An example on how to calculate the staff costs for Erasmus+ projects is presented below. WP NO
First, the project proposal defines the working days allocated to each Work Package: WP TITLE TASKS WORKING DAYS FOR STAFF
Manager 20 -
Administrative Total 20 40 5
Second, the budget table of the project proposal provides the staff rates, generally in Excel format. These rates are identified according to the ceiling rates of each programme country. MANAGER RESEARCHER TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATIVE Cost Cost Cost Cost Working Working Working Working Per Total Per Total Per Total Per Total Days Days Days Days Day Day Day Day 20 150 3.000 40 100 4.000 15 80 1.200 25 60 1.500 Third, each partner needs to prepare timesheets for their employees involved in the project implementation. Timesheets are prepared monthly, providing information on: Who has worked on each project task? When did they work? What was the task(s)? How many hours/days did they work? Finally, the working days of the staff are calculated in the timesheets by multiplying the rates in the budget table, for example: Staff A worked 17,50 days as a researcher. Therefore, the staff costs for this employee is 17,50 (days) multiplied by the staff rate of 100 €, which equals 1.750,00 €.
A.2. Operational Costs: Travel and Subsistence: The EU projects generally involve transnational activities, such as kick-off and management meetings, training sessions, international seminars, conferences and many others. Therefore, the project members need to travel in the partner countries, usually once every 6 th month. The travel and subsistence costs during the events are covered by the project budget. The payment and calculation rules may differ depending on the EU programme. For example, it may be a lump-sum payment; per diem or a real-cost payment. Partners need to provide evidence for the incurred costs, such as vouchers, invoices, tickets and etc. Sub-contracting: The term refers to the involvement of third persons (not part of the consortium) to implement certain project tasks. Subcontracting is required when the consortium does not have the required capabilities. The coordinator or a consortium partner signs a contract with the sub-contractor, based on which the amount identified in the budget is paid. Typical example of sub-contracting for EU projects is signing a contract with an external evaluator of the project. Sub-contracting for web design, website hosting, logo and other virtual identity is also quite common
Equipment: Some projects require the purchase of certain equipment and/or consumables to implement particular project activities. For example, if a project envisages training activities, the partners may need to procure training materials such as a PC, projector, white board and etc. Please note that the programme should explicitly define the purchase of equipment as eligible costs, otherwise these costs will not be reimbursed. Other: Finally, the costs that do not fit in any of the budget headings above are considered other costs. Typical other costs are the printing consumables for the dissemination materials, Conference expenses (meeting room rental) and etc.
B. Indirect Costs: During the project implementation, partners might have expenses, such as internet and other communication costs, office materials, local transport to implement project activities etc. These are called Indirect costs and should not exceed 7% of the total budget. The example below show how to calculate them: Overall project budget: 300.000 € Individual partner budget: 42.000€ (14%) Indirect cost for the partner: 7% of 42.000 =2.940 € Generally, the Contracting authority (the Agency) doesn’t demand for any proof or reporting for indirect costs. In any case, it is recommended to read carefully the financial guide for the programme in question. C. EU Grant & Own Contribution Nearly all of the EU funds require “own-contribution” by the project consortium. This means, that each party of the project consortium needs to co-finance their activities. Generally, around 25 to 30 % of overall budget must be covered by the partners’ own budget. For example, if the project budget is around 100.000 €, the own partner contribution equals to 25.000 € to 30.000 €, distributed among partners based on their involvement. 8.3 Financial Kit
The financial toolkit, prepared by the Commission, aims to help recipients of EU funds for external actions2 to comply with the financial management rules stipulated in the EU contracts. In a user friendly format, the toolkit provides practical guidance for financial managers, such as how identify important risk areas, what are the tricky areas and what
External Actions: “The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world. It has strategic partnerships with key international players, is deeply engaged with emerging powers around the globe, and has signed bilateral Association Agreements with a number of states in its vicinity. Abroad, the Union is represented by a number of EU Delegations, which have a similar function to those of an embassy”. Reference: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/what_we_do/index_en.htm 2
might go wrong and how to avoid risks a can be avoided. The document also presents best practices, tools and templates. Further, the toolkit is designed as an educational training program and covers 8 different modules: Module 1: Internal Controls Module 2: Documentation, Filling and Record Keeping Module 3: Procurement Module 4: Asset Management Module 5: Payroll and Time Management Module 6: Cash and Bank Management Module 7: Accounting Module 8: Financial Reporting* These modules and as well as other useful tools and templates can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/financial-managementtoolkit_en.htm
It is highly recommended for financial managers to study these training modules before starting their project. However, please be aware that the Commission notes that: “The toolkit is not a set of rules in addition to the existing legal, contractual and regulatory framework”. More details and useful tips for Financial Reporting are summarised in section 8.3 Budgeting and Reporting 8.4 Financial Skills
Some of the essential skills a financial manager should possess are as follows: Accounting: As the whole reporting task is about the numbers, the financial manager should have basic accounting skills. Documentation: The financial manager must keep and file properly all the expenses’ documents, including payrolls, timesheets, invoices, sub-contracts etc., as these are essential for both reporting purposes and also for the smooth financial management. The authority generally asks partners to keep the documents up to 5 years after the end date of the project. Time Management: Each project is implemented within a particular time frame. Therefore, financial managers must be able to adhere to strict deadlines and prioritize tasks. Communication & Team Work: Team working and good communication skills are also very important as financial managers need to provide guidelines and lead the partners while preparing their individual financial reporting. A strong, dynamic and functional communication network among partners makes the financial management and reporting much easier. Stress Management: Dealing with money might be stressful as financial reporting errors could create undesired and tensed situations. Thus, financial managers should get used to work under pressure.
Budget and Cash Management: What to pay? When to pay? How much to pay? How to manage objectives if in case of payment delays? These are crucial questions for a financial manager to keep in mind at each project phase.
8.5 Budgeting and Reporting
A final financial report, covering the entire project period, is always required by the Agency. Interim financial reports are required for project longer than one year. Failure to submit the requisite reports may result in contract termination and recovery of the amounts already paid but unreported.
The reports are really essential for the following purposes: to verify that the funds have been used in accordance with the objectives, activities and budget agreed in the Contract; to inform the Contracting Authority on the progress of the activities (for interim financial reports); to determine the final amount of the EU’s contribution to the project.
What Could Go Wrong? Some of the problematic areas during the project reporting stage are presented below: The financial reports must be in accordance with the conditions defined in the contract by the Agency. Otherwise, the Contacting authority (Agency) may cancel the contract and even reclaim the amounts paid in previous payments. Thus, financial managers must ensure that financial records are kept up-to-date. They must also adhere to the reporting deadlines. Some supporting documents, providing an evidence for the eligibility of the expenses, might be missed out. Thus, managers should be careful to include all the supporting documents and/or accounting records (bank statements, invoices and etc.). The financial reports must be in accordance with the underlying accounting records. Also, the supporting documents must provide a proper trail from the accounting records. Giving clear reference numbers to the supporting documents and providing these in all relevant parts of the financial report is very useful as it makes the reporting much more comprehensive. The classification of the different budget headings may not be clearly mirrored in the financial report. This may cause confusion and rejection of the report by the Agency. The financial manager must prepare the financial report in accordance with the classification used in the budget. This is also useful in comparing the actual expenses with the envisaged budget. The currency rate may cause some problems for partners outside of the Euro zone. If the correct exchange rate is not used, the authority may conduct some deductions in the payments. The financial manager should consider the exchange rate identified in the contract for all expenses that need currency exchange. The official website of the Commission for the exchange rates is:
http://ec.europa.eu/budget/contracts_grants/info_contracts/inforeuro/inforeur o_en.cfm The financial report must cover all the funding sources used in the project. TIPS AND TRICKS How to prepare good financial reports Drafting financial reports is a must!
“All contracts for EU funded external actions (except supply and works contracts) require the Recipient to submit financial reports to the Contracting Authority. Failure to submit these reports may cause the Contracting Authority to terminate the contract and to recover any amounts already paid and not substantiated. If the project is audited, the lack of a financial report may cause the auditors to issue a disclaimer report (declaring that it is impossible to formulate an opinion on the project’s financial report). This could result in the Contracting Authority deciding to recover any funds paid.”
The financial report must be aligned with the accounting records.
“Recipients should arrange for a clear audit trail from the financial report to the accounting records and the underlying supporting documents. If there is no proper audit trail, any auditors might declare the financial report to be un-auditable. The consequences for the Recipient might be the same as if no financial report was submitted at all. Ideally, the financial report should directly tally with the accounting records, account by account, line by line, without any addition, grouping, adjustment or omission. If this is not possible, the Recipient should at least draft a clear reconciliation between the two. This reconciliation should be kept in the project documentation.”
Financial reports must mirror the classification used in the budget. “It is essential to draft the financial report using the same classifications as in the agreed budget. This budget, annexed to the Contract, is the only budget version that matters. This requirement is vital to allow budgeted and actual expenditure to be compared.” Financial reports must be drafted in the correct currency.
“It is essential to draft the financial report in the same currency as that used in the agreed budget, usually the euro. The currency is specified in the special conditions of the Contract. It is the currency in which the EU contribution is denominated. This requirement is vital to allow budgeted and actual expenditure to be compared. Recipients must follow the rules laid down in the Contract when converting expenditure in local currency into the reporting currency.”
Financial reports must cover all sources of project funding.
“The financial report must cover the entire project and not just that part of it financed by the EU. For grant contracts, the general conditions require that “the financial report shall cover the action as a whole, regardless of which part of it is financed by the Contracting Authority”. It is essential to comply with this rule, as the EU grant is calculated as a share of the total eligible costs of the project.” All the quotes are from the Financial Kit
Project Managersâ€™ Skills
Project Managersâ€™ Skills
9.1 Introduction In order to successfully manage a project, the project manager needs to possess a certain set of skills. Generally one divides these skills into two main groups: hard or technical skills and soft skills. Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills such as motivation, negotiation and persuasion. As the Project Manager is managing a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, he/she needs to be an expert on people management.
In most projects the manager also needs a great deal of technical expertise in order to make the right decisions and in order to monitor and evaluate the work of his/her subordinates. The technical expertise is either literally concerned with technical areas such as IT or management tools, such as using certain management approaches/management techniques. To give an example this table illustrates the differences in Soft and Hard skills Fig.1: Hard skills and Soft Skills
SOFT SKILLS HARD SKILLS Relate to interpersonal skills and their Often involves the creation of a tangible deliverable challenges
Leadership is more important More intangible and less visible More technical in nature Typically employed without the use of Often incorporate the use of a tool tools/templates (scheduling software, spreadsheets, presentations) or deliverable templates 9.2
Technical Skills (Hard Skills)
The project manager must have the skills to use management techniques, procedures and tools. She/he must know how to interpret a budget report, how to read a statistical analysis of a project baseline data, and understand the correct application of the different management methodologies. In addition to the above, the project manager is expected to have skills in the effective use of information and communication technology to help him/her be more effective in his/her work.
Technical skills are essential to communicate successfully with the project team. For example to assess risks and to make well founded choices based on the costs involved,
the plan, time and quality issues. In other words, technical skills are related to work with processes and tools. Technical skills refer to the use of particular knowledge, to the experience related to project management and specific methods for implementing project activities. Most important hard skills in project management: Problem solving skills Conceptual skills
Problem Solving Skills Projects are likely to encounter problems. Problems arise unexpectedly and need to be addressed and managed. Problem solving demands a good problem definition in an early stage of the project. In many cases the problem that was identified is a warning for a larger problem.
Problem solving skills make use of different techniques, and by using these techniques one can tackle problems, which might otherwise seem huge, overwhelming, and excessively complex. Techniques such as breaking problems down into manageable parts, identifying root causes of problems, analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, must be mastered in order to solve problems.3 Additionally, the project manager needs analytical thinking skills. A project manager must be able to synthesize information and arrange disparate information into a meaningful whole. A project manager must be able to see patterns and derive meaning from distinct pieces of data. Analysis is the skill of breaking a whole into component parts.
Conceptual Skills Conceptual skills refer to the ability to coordinate, organize, and fit in all projects efforts. Conceptual skills are the ability to see the "big picture." Project managers that have excellent conceptual skills know how different external elements interrelate and influence one another, and eventually influence the project. They understand relationships between projects, project partners and the environment and how changes in one part of the environment can affect the entire project. Conceptual skills are essential in order to deal appropriately with the project’s politics and to get support.
A project manager can anticipate that a modification in the project will affect the entire project. A project manager is required to see the project as a whole, understand how all parts fit together, and how all parts relate to one another. The larger, the more complex, a project is. And thus, the more important this type of skill becomes. Conceptual skills help a project manager to keep a clear vision of the goal of the project, and to understand its relations with the project’s environment. 3
See Chapter 3 “Introduction to the Logical Framework Approach for Project Design and Management”
Guidelines for European Project Proposal Writing Every project requires different set of technical skills and thus it is difficult to focus on a particular expertise or knowledge area.
The technical skills for managing European projects are referring to the expertise on interpreting calls and formulating proposals that connect to the priorities mentioned in the call. This skill comes usually with experience in project proposal writing. However, in the following section, the most important guidelines in order to write a successful project proposal will be summarized: Follow the guidelines of the project form (minimum partners, objectives, etc.) Match research groups with topic Defined role of each group • What’s in it for me? It must be visible that the project proposal also leads to a value for the participating or initiating company. Clear synergy between the groups • Complementary skills, no major overlaps
Choose recognized partners known to deliver Need to be a balance between academia and industry • SME’s if stated in the call text All in all the “hard skills” or technical skills can be summarized as all the know-how of procedures, methodologies, and tools in order to achieve the desired project outcome. The main technical skill activities involve writing and reading proposals, analyzing, scheduling, interpreting, evaluating, and monitoring concepts. These activities are part of the conceptual and problem solving skills. 9.3
The soft skills as mentioned in the first paragraph refer to the project manager’s ability to manage people. The soft skills are becoming more and more important for project managers nowadays, which can be supported by the following graphic that illustrate the top ten reasons for projects to fail. One can see that most reasons heavily emphasize the importance for the soft skills (see soft skill barometer).
Fig.2: Hard Skills and Soft Skills Soft Barometer
Skills Reasons for Project Failure
Hard Skills Barometer
1. Inadequately trained or inexperienced project managers 2. Failure to set and manage Expectations 3. Poor leadership
4. Failure to effectively identify and document requirements 5. Poor plans and planning processes 6. Poor effort estimation
7. Cultural misalignment
8. Misalignment between project team and organization it serves 9. Poor or misused methods 10. Poor communication
Usually “soft skills” include interpersonal communication, leadership, negotiation skills, influencing, and personnel management. Soft skills are much more art than science. Companies that invest in the development of their project managers’ set of soft skills are the ones that have the greatest chance of achieving project success.
Communication For a project manager, one of the most difficult skills to be mastered is communication, which requires technical skills to develop a communication plan and soft skills to handle difficult conversations, negotiate with stakeholders or to address poor performance to a member of the project team. Effective communication skills include verbal and nonverbal communication that enable a project manager to transfer project information in such a way that it is understood by all project stakeholders. The first vital skill is the ability to communicate. This skill is
absolutely crucial in project management. Project managers spend about 90 % of their time just communicating. A project manager delivers their thoughts and ideas clearly. Communication is effective when the sender as well as the receiver have the same understanding of given information. A study of Brandeis University shows that one of the top ten reasons why projects fail is that there is poor communication within a project or project team. In addition, this study showed that the soft skill of communication (including progress reporting) was rated more than two times more responsible for failure or success than the hard skill set of creating the communication plan. Communicating with team members in a one-on-one setting shows them they are important to the project. Numerous project managers are able to make a plan, monitor it, and control costs, timelines, and scope. However, those project managers that can communicate clearly are consequently able to influence stakeholders and display team leadership. Leadership Skills Leadership skills are vital for project managers as project managers are required to influence the behaviour of others. Project managers need leadership skills because they succeed in their work because of the efforts of other people (people who have faces and names). Leadership is the main contributor to the success of the project manager. By showing leadership, the project manager expresses a clear vision and provides guidance.
Negotiation Skills Project managers spend a large part of their time negotiating for funds, equipment or other support. If a project manager lacks strong negotiating skills, the chances for success are much lower. A significant part of the negotiation happens within the organization, which is to get the resources that are necessary. Negotiation is the process of finding mutually satisfactory solutions with individuals or groups. Negotiation includes making deals when stakeholders request changes to the project and its resources. Negotiation skills are important when dealing with project beneficiaries that will benefit both the project and the beneficiaries. The project manager must be able to find the best approach to develop common understanding and align the interest of the beneficiaries with the interests of the project.
Conclusion Soft skills are all interpersonal communication tools and strategies that are used to support and create a working atmosphere, which ensures the success of a project.
It can be concluded that the most important soft skills consist of negotiation skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. All these skills fall under the inter-personal communication category.
So many calls for proposals there are, so many kinds of questions may occur. Nevertheless, there are established habits and pieces of best practices which can help us during the preparation of a project proposal. When only consortiums are eligible to apply for a call, applicants have to face the difficulties of collective research, indicate a coordinator organisation, collect different types of official documents, etc. This chapter provides useful information for those who have no extended practice in such activities. General Questions 1. Why doing a specific project? A unique project idea is always advantageous for the applicants. The European Union primarily supports projects that comply with the following general rules: the project proposal has an added value the project proposal has multiplier effect the project proposal promotes the goals and the objectives of the specific call
2. How to solve a particular problem? Programme operators are at the applicants’ disposal by e-mail. There are specific workgroups for technical and IT questions, and professional experts are available for administrative, bureaucratic, and professional issues related to the content of a proposal.
3. What differs for private/public organisations concerning obligations? All application systems are more permissive in cases of public entities concerning mandatory annexes. The most important one is to provide proof for the evaluators about the official legal status of the organisation. Sometimes it is enough to submit a simple declaration; however, occasionally applicants have to submit at least one document to certify their legal status. Basically, most of the calls for proposals provide the opportunity to submit other supporting documents. The documents that are most commonly looked and asked for are the Legal Entity Form4 and the Financial Identification Form5 whose templates are available in 23 languages. Frequently requested documents in case of private entities: extract from the official journal copy of articles of association 4 5
extract of trade or association register certificate of liability to VAT Frequently requested documents in case of public entities: copy of the resolution or decision establishing the public company other official documents establishing the public-law entity
Operational capacity has to be demonstrated in case of every participant. However, the financial capacity is not so important in case of public entities. Private entities can be obliged to submit a filled-in financial statement form which contains the most important financial indicators, e.g., staff costs, profit/loss for the financial year, inventory, fixed assets, etc. The submission of the annual accounts for the last financial year or a bank statement could be also requested as other supporting documents. Certain calls for proposals do not ask for these documents at the phase of submission. 4. How many project proposals can be submitted for a call? It depends on the specific call, although it is considered that there is no constraint on the number of applications made by one organisation. 5. What are the differences between partners, associates and subcontractors? Partners are actively involved in the design and implementation of the action and therefore have the right to be reimbursed for the related eligible costs. Partners are subject to the eligibility rules set out in the Guidelines for grant applicants.
Associates are an interested party taking part in the implementation of the action but are not involved in its design and their costs are not covered by the grant except for travel and per diem expenses. Also associates cannot be taken into account with regard to any partnership composition requirements of a Call.
Subcontractors are neither partners, nor associates. Grant beneficiaries can award contracts to subcontractors for services, supplies, and works.
Administrative Questions 1. How much time is necessary to invest in EU projects? The elaboration of an EU project proposal can take months, which depends on several factors, such as the duration of our project proposal, number of partners, number of mandatory attachments, etc. Generally, the bigger a project is the more time is necessary for the elaboration. For instance, if a project consortium consists of five partners, we have to plan the budgets and fill in templates for each partner which can take a long time. If there is an experienced project manager in the project team, the situation is much easier. After the consortium has been set up, the duration of the proposal elaboration is somewhere between 2 weeks and 3 months.
2. Does the European Commission provide technical support for the preparation of proposals? The European Commission does not provide technical support for the preparation of proposals. Applicants must follow the instructions in the Guidelines for grant applicants published for each call for proposals together with the relevant annexes. Also regarding the methodology and project management, the European Commission has adopted the â€œProject Cycle Managementâ€? guidelines as a tool for design and project management, based on the logical framework approach.
Partners and Info Search
1. How to find partners? The first step of partner search is to plan an ideal consortium. Most of the calls for proposals stipulate the required composition of the consortium, e.g., number/location/ type/function/experience of the project partners, etc. Generally, the coordinator organisation begins to look for partners who can be interested in the project proposal. Personal relations are always advantageous at this stage of a project idea. Since the participants are usually in different countries, the role of confidence is a priority during the selection. Consequently, people like cooperating with well-known partners, avoiding unnecessary risks. If someone canâ€™t create a consortium on his/her own, online partner search surfaces can be very useful. Official homepages of bigger programmes always include a platform for partner search directly. Accordingly, these programmes have a unique database of potential partners which is freely accessible. To be listed in the database, it is necessary to fill in and upload a template provided by the programme operators. These templates contain basic information about the partners to help others in their selection. In some cases, uploading a project idea to these platforms is also possible, in this way the process of application turns and the only thing that a coordinator has to do is to wait. If we cannot find these opportunities on the official
websites off calls for proposals, we should try to find partners on the Internet. There are several webpages whose aim is to support the professional collaborations through mediation. One of the most popular initiations for networking is LinkedIn with which the partner search is quick and easy due to the well-structured surface. www.linkedin.com
European Commission provides a database (PADOR) for searching potential partners among organizations that have made their details accessible. Registration is needed in order to access it. 2. Databases Databases are very useful when we have to obtain background information for our project proposal. Data gathering plays a crucial role during the preparation of the proposal, it is inevitable for the assessment of demands and the eligibility of our ideas. Before we would submit a proposal for e.g., development of a new product for a specific target group, we have to survey the market, the concurrency, etc. in order to provide the sufficient project implementation and its sustainability.
3. Info days From time to time, programme operators organise info days or open days to present the latest results as good examples of granted projects. Nevertheless, an info day not only can focus on the awarded projects, but could also focus on the dissemination of a programme. There are several webpages on the Internet which collect the actual info days, but the stakeholders are usually invited by e-mail. Occasionally, a registration for participation is required.
Eligibility Questions 1. Do all subcontracts have to be tendered? Is it allowed to follow the national guidelines in tendering? Usually, beneficiaries have to demonstrate that they have selected their subcontractors bearing in mind the best value for money. If the call for proposals does not stipulate the rules of tendering, beneficiaries can implement (public) procurements according to their national regulation or practice. 2. Is it possible to subcontract the management of Action? The applicant and partners must be directly responsible for the preparation and the management of the proposed action. Consequently, the applicant may not subcontract the management of action to another organisation. However, subcontracting project management to another organisation may not be confused with recruiting a member of the proposed project’s personnel through a service contract: (E.g. The person will not appear on the payroll of the grant beneficiary to perform “project management” tasks.
3. Which costs may be covered? In principle, costs that are eligible for the project promoter (the partner in the beneficiary country) are also eligible for the donor country partner. Examples of eligible expenses for donor country partners: Costs of staff assigned to the project, comprising actual salaries plus social security charges and other statutory costs included in the remuneration, provided that this corresponds to the project partner’s usual policy on remuneration. The corresponding salary costs of staff of national administrations are eligible to the extent that they relate to the cost of activities that the relevant public authority would not carry out if the project was not taking place;
travel and subsistence allowances for staff taking part in the project, given that these costs are in line with the project partner’s usual practices on travel costs and do not exceed the relevant national scales;
Supporting Documents 1. Curriculum Vitae Commonly used form of curriculum vitae is the Europass CV6 form which is requested and/or accepted in the territory of the European Union. This template is available in 28 languages with instructions; however the English version is the most popular since the language of the proposals is English. Nevertheless, there are such calls for proposals that allow submitting annexes in other official EU language.
2. As it is not possible to upload originals of the supporting documents, should copies be certified? It is not necessary to provide certified copies, but the copies must be true copies of the originals, they must be legible and clearly showing the signatures, dates, stamps, etc. Copies in the form of unsigned computer printouts or in illegible hand-writing, will not be accepted. 3. Should translations of supporting documents be certified translations? It is not necessary for translations to be certified, only the relevant parts of the supporting documents proving the eligibility of the applicant or partner (nationality, type of organization, non-profit-making objectives, etc.) need to be translated.
EuropeAid Cooperation Office. “Publications.” Development and Cooperation - Europeaid. March 2004. http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm
European Trade Union Institute. “Publications.” European Trade Union Institute. Edited by the European Commission. 2004. http://www.etui.org/Publications2/Guides/Project-monitoring-and-evaluation-guidelines Ulrich Schiefer, Lucinia Bal-Dobel, António Batista, Reinald Dobel, João Nogueira e Paulo teixeira. MAPA_Manual de Planeamento e Avaliação de Projetos. S. João do Estoril, Cascais: Prinicipia, 2006. http://www.uc.pt/feuc/publicacoes/guiapedagogico/GuiasPedagogicos/GuiaPed_2011-12
Marando Anne, Balancing Project Management–Hard skills and Soft skills, Master of Science in management of projects and programs, Brandeis University, Feb. 2012 http://projectmgmt.brandeis.edu/downloads/BRU_MSMPP_WP_Feb2012_Balancing_Project_Ma nagement.pdf Additional online sources:
http://projectmgmt.brandeis.edu/downloads/BRU_MSMPP_WP_Feb2012_Balancing_Project_Ma nagement.pdf http://www.pm4dev.com/resources/
http://www.vinnova.se/PageFiles/89206772/How%20to%20succeed%20with%20FP7%20Pr oject%20Proposal.pdf http://cboprojects.com/2013/09/project-management-soft-skills-a-must-have/
http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/implementation/grants/index_en.htm https://WebGate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/onlineservices/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome. http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/multimedia/publications/publications/manualstools/t101_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/onlineservices/pador/index_en.htm