A thorough initial process of planning, research, consultation and engagement with key stakeholders is needed to build trust, ownership and support. Allow sufficient time for this step as it is critical to success. Such processes usually take more time than is anticipated. Attention to detail is integral to effective project management and planning.
A holistic, community development approach to the project that sees service planning within a larger system of local programs and services was advocated in the Guidelines and Resources for NGOs. A client-focused and needs-based approach to service delivery was also proposed.
Assist the steering committee to:
- Conduct a needs assessment and organisational mapping of each service involved in the potential partnership.
- Analyse the benefits and costs involved in developing the partnership and the proposed initiative.
Conduct an initial risk assessment on the proposed initiative, taking potential challenges and regional/place-related risks into account. It may be useful to hire a consultant who specialises in risk management planning to facilitate this process.
Implement a rigorous project management methodology. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (2004) is recommended since this is the internationally recognised project management methodology (see http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/pmbok.html). A gated process is also recommended. This involves assessing data on the progress of the project at key decision points then asking whether the project is feasible and if it should move ahead as planned or be modified.
Implement a scope management process to track and monitor progress. A Gantt chart could be used to update changes weekly with the partner agencies.
An action research approach may be very effective for developing the MTSC since it is ‘an effective process for changing, developing and improving professional practice’ which ‘invites democratic participation’ (Office of Child Care, 2001, p.2; see also Box A13 in the Guidelines and Resources for NGOs). To be effective, direct democratic participation of all
stakeholders in decision making is needed.
Actively engage and include all relevant stakeholders in the initial planning and decision-making process and listen to them carefully to ensure that their needs are met and their concerns are addressed. Recommended community consultation processes include: conferences, seminars, working parties and advisory committees. Thoughtful, skilful, and focused facilitation of working sessions and meetings is essential.
Based on these consultations, develop a three year action plan for the establishment and implementation of the MTSC in collaboration with the consortium. This plan will guide action and ensure continuing progress. It should include details of the strategies and processes used to establish the centre and make it sustainable. Timelines need to be flexible and realistic as many unexpected problems and contingencies can arise which will delay progress, and the consultation, negotiation and decision making process can become quite lengthy.
Ensure that the action plan and the project management methodology is agreed to and understood by all stakeholders.
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