Implementation

PCM cycle - ImplementationOnce funding is secured, there is nothing to stop us from executing the project (although ‘nothing’ may be too optimistic sometimes). At this step, we can start with the practical preparations of our project: recruiting additional staff; organising the project team at different levels and locations; setting up logistics and purchasing new equipment; introducing ourselves and the project to the people, the media, the local authorities, the representatives of international organisations and so on.

The monitoring and accountability system has to be put in place too. This includes the system for financial management and reporting; the system to monitor the execution and results of our activities; the administrative management system; the risk monitoring system and emergency handling system; and the planning of financial audits and (external evaluations).

At this point in time, the situation of the beneficiaries is measured before the activities start, using the indicators. This is known as the baseline, which will serve to compare the evolution of the situation of the beneficiaries to as the project progresses. However, some donors will oblige you to establish a baseline during the formulation phase and incorporate it in the project proposal. Even so, it may be a good idea to establish the situation at the very start of the project, especially when it’s been a while since the baseline was established, because other things may have influenced the beneficiaries’ situation.

The project’s planning that was established during the formulation phase may also need to be updated. It is not rare that a lot of time has passed between the development of this planning and the final approval of the project by the donor. In the meantime the situation may have drastically changed. Experience also shows that it is only now that serious reflection is given to the planning of the activities, as the project team is confronted with the reality and limitations of working in a given setting with certain resources and time available.

Implementation is all about doing the right activities to respond to the actual needs of the beneficiaries. The information you receive from your monitoring system should allow you to respond flexibly to those needs. At least that is the original idea behind the project cycle. In the worst case, you are totally bound by your contract with the donor and obliged to follow it to the letter, even if you know that the situation has changed and that you are not doing the right things. Most donors are open to adapting the original contract in some way, but often within limits. Also, the procedure to change your contract may be cumbersome and slow, and modifying the contract is not something you would go through more than once during the project.

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