Whose Project Management Cycle?

As we’ve mentioned before, Project Cycle Management is not always very popular. This has something to do with the fact that it has been pushed very much by the donor community. NGOs were forced to apply this approach and were faced with a plethora of complex rules to obey and models to fill out. In turn, NGOs in developed countries forced their partners in the developing countries to respect the rules and formats.

The net result of this very top-down process is that even very small and weak local organisations are forced to use very complex and cumbersome models for monitoring and reporting. So in the end, you can ask yourself whose project management cycle we are talking about. One could argue that it is all about the donor’s project management because they call the shots and force everyone to use their models and respect their procedures. As a consequence, NGOs (both in North and South) have a tendency to look for the information that is requested by the donor, not the information that is necessary to develop a quality project. Although PCM makes use of the participatory techniques of the logical framework approach, some needs of the beneficiaries may be get neglected because they don’t fit the templates.

NGOs, both in North and South, should be aware of this danger and avoid assimilating (or being assimilated by) the donors’ project management approach. Instead they should develop their own management cycle, making sure that they are able to deliver the necessary information, but without becoming totally dependent on the donor. On the positive side, these models and procedures often do provide a valuable service because they are a solid and practical framework. But NGOs both in the North and South do have to ask themselves whether they are managing their own project cycle, or whether they are a subsidiary of the donor or the partner organisation that has access to the money.

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