|Organizational Performance and Change Management - Workshop proceedings - October 1-3, 1997, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Philippines (IIRR, 1997)|
|Case 3: Planning, monitoring and evaluation - The PhilDHRRA experience|
by Veronica B. Carabi
Technical Services Department, PhilDHRRA
THE PHILIPPINE PARTNERSHIP FOR the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) emerged after the workshop on Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas held in Thailand in 1983. The network was formally established in April 1984. To date, it has a total membership of 65 non-government organizations (NGOs) spread across the three island regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines.
PhilDHRRA is a national network of social development organizations that strive to be militant, non-violent, dynamic, viable, effective, self-reliant and committed to establishing autonomous people's organizations (POs) geared towards building a society. Organizations are characterized by participatory democracy, equality, national sovereignty, cultural autonomy, gender equality and environmental sustainability.
For 14 years, "PhilDHRRA has successfully managed to become a strong network of development organizations involved primarily in agrarian reform and rural development. It became, even to the government and donor agencies, an aggrupation that has to be dealt with. It has successfully prototyped tripartism through its community-based programs (TriPARRD, TriPUD and TriMARRD) that made even some of its partner government agencies test out the same strategy in their other programs. It made a dent in developing technologies and became a pioneer in modeling development initiatives. It did this with its organizational development and human resources development tools and guidelines on gender and development integration to development projects and processes, to name a few. It has been on the frontline capturing opportunities laid out with the implementation of local government code.
It now runs a governance and local democracy project and a provincial strategic development program that capitalizes on the interventions that could be done at the local level in partnership with government units. To date, it started out with its Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) project in several identified biogeographic areas in various provinces, such as Camarines Sur, Bohol, Leyte and South Cotabato. But also along with these efforts are planning, monitoring and evaluation tools and processes.
PhilDHRRA has always been responsible to several development projects and programs carried out by its member-NGOs. The planning, monitoring and evaluation processes started with the Project Phase in 1984-1989 with Research Communications, Training and Consultancy, Project Development and Monitoring, Link Building and Federation Building activities.
Then came the Program Phase that started in 1989 and continues to date, with the tripartite programs, organizational development interventions, local governance and others. The SIAD phase started in 1997
During the Project Phase, assessments included the use of tools, such as: community information and planning system; NGO project planning; network project review and planning workshops; and regional or general assembly and management meetings.
During the Program Phase, assessment processes consisted of: program review and assessment workshops; productivity systems assessment and planning; tripartite planning, strategic planning workshops; network program review; provincial-level and national-level planning workshops organized every semester using the Process Documentation Research tool; annual review and planning meeting at the secretarial level; and the PO assessment at the program level.
For the SIAD Phase, the assessment activities include: social audit; biannual and annual review and planning; and operation planning.
The assessment processes were not as smooth as planned. A need to develop an integrated and standard set of indicators for planning and evaluation constantly surfaced. Clearly defined sets of strategies and sharpened result areas needed formulating to render a virtual order out of assorted approaches.
A sound planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation system needed installing. A system to guide decision-making and help set the agenda for subsequent action was necessary.
In lieu of which, the secretariat had, for the past two years, exerted serious attempts to systematize its planning and budgeting. The ICCO/CEBEMO Consult from Netherlands had been a good source of help on this. The group who has been commissioned by BILANCE, a major agency supporting the TriPARRD Program, introduced structures and processes that will make a better OPB system in general, it introduced the latest estimate concept, now integrated in the OPB tool - a most crucial indicator in the planning process primarily because it indicates the latest target expected at the end of the program period. It is based on:
· environmental developments, through which the program is implemented;
· the targets earlier set, which also serve as basis of management decision; and
· changes within the specific timeframe when the estimate was formed.
PhilDHRRA has also participated in a planning, monitoring and evaluation dialogue among other partners within the Philippines.
These efforts signify the interest, particularly of the secretariat to systematize the network processes. The rationale being that the network simply has to respond vigorously to the demands of its stakeholders for a more accurate measurement of its achievements, through defined key result areas, indicators of performance and targets.
The existing OPB tool is anchored on a process of environmental scanning, following the SWOT analysis procedures, for firmly believing that only through a careful assessment of its environment will more relevant and responsive organizational plans follow. This includes analysis of political, economic, social and ecological factors influencing its directions. Then each unit can determine its key strategies, key result areas and performance indicators, targets for specific timeframes, and use of baselines and benchmarks. Budgetary requirements and possible sources will also be identified.
PhilDHRRA use the PBME model as illustrated below:
Reviews and planning workshops always indicate that on-the-ground similar processes are conducted. For instance, what precedes the strategic review and planning is the program and department review and planning workshops on one side, and the Regional Secretariat Review and Planning Workshops on the other. PO Assessments are still conducted at program level. What proceeds the Strategic Planning is the consolidation of the Operating Plan and Budget at the secretariat level that will be subject for review of the Board. Then Regional Assemblies or the General Assembly reviews and approves it.
Regional assemblies are also held at least twice a year where regional members gather to update, plan, reaffirm and reform concurrent strategies. Regional Boards meet to discuss issues raised at the assembly further and to resolve them. Proposed strategies are further studied to assess their relevance and practicability. The whole process of PBME ends with the General Assembly Meeting that meets to discuss and resolve policy issues concerning the entire network, and to reaffirm and reform network strategies. The National Board convenes to formulate policy statements to guide secretariats to operationalize the strategies. This is the process that PhilDHRRA uses. The results, however, leave much to be desired.
Those who were involved found the meetings lacking in focus and no one could give a clear picture of what the network is in a coherent and cohesive whole.
In 1995, the leaders, representatives from member NGOs, and other stakeholders met to review and discuss the network strategy. It came up with an eight-point strategy that was meant to give the network its measured identity and defined niche in the overall realm of development work in the Philippines. The strategy covered the next five years, past the next millenium. The eight-point strategy is by no means reinventing the programs and involvements of PhilDHRRA in the past, rather, an attempt to capture them in one integrated and clearly directed whole.
Now that the network has defined its vision and its directions have unity and focus, what, then, remains to be done? A lot, but in the line of monitoring and evaluation, there remains a need to review the OPB tool and processes.
"Bottom-Up" vs "Top-Bottom". Members are clamoring for improved participation in the program/project conceptualization, implementation and assessment.
"Commitments in memorandum of agreements (MOAs) vs. Innovations"/"Standardization vs. Diversion". These are project-related and a common dilemma among project managers and implementors.
"Indigenous Knowledge vs. External Expertise". Should consultants always be there, or should they try to develop from within and rely on the wealth of experiences of internal people who are more grounded and whose is what may be called moral authority.
"Simplicity vs. Complexity" or "Generalist vs. Specialist" But over and above all these, beneath these debates, one basic concern remains: how can PhilDHRRA say that it has done something? This will again lead to many other questions. Who can say that it has accomplished something? What has so far been its impact to the over-all struggle for social change? And so on and so forth, questions that mean similar things with impact, accountability and focus.
This is where social auditing comes in. It is not a totally new tool for performance or impact evaluation, nor, a reinvention of the existing planning, monitoring and evaluation processes, rather uses them to aid in drawing out the real impact of the institution through and from the perspectives of its very own stakeholders.
Social auditing as an information management tool has been gaining ground and wider publicity in Europe and North America. It has a tool that facilitates dialogue among the organization's various stakeholders and improves organizational social performance. Encouraged by the new knowledge gained and convinced of its significance to PhilDHRRA's work, PhilDHRRA has so far been engaged, and sponsored, four social audit training courses in the Philippines since 1996.
PhilDHRRA firmly recognizes that only its stakeholders could say whether it has done anything at all, or whether it has achieved its institutional goals and objectives in the first place. The principle is simple; local communities can give a true assessment of the organization's performance. It is after all only by consulting all the stakeholders that a comprehensive, multi-perspective and relevant assessment can be produced.
The principles and processes of social audit act as the leavening agent because it shall supply the integrating framework of the network's PBME processes. By capturing the views of its stakeholders in the process of setting social objectives, indicators system, strategies and targets, and evaluation of their impact and relevance then the network has an identity that is so much its stakeholders' who, after all, is its substance and system. Then and only then, PhilDHRRA could say that it is what it is and no longer disintegrated from what constitutes it (the stakeholders) nor be accused of violating its essence as it becomes, though not deliberately, heavily secretariat-identified.
How can this integration be arrived? What follows are draft plans:
1. Identifying stakeholders
The assessment will of course include all the stakeholder groups of PhilDHRRA as a network. Priorities will vary depending on what the management sees feasible at any given assessment period. For this phase, however, assessment will primarily include the five stakeholder groups, namely the NGO members, PO partners, staff, donor agencies and the Board.
2. Defining modes of consultation
The process shall build on the existing assessment tools and processes such as the use of Key Result Areas for evaluation, staff appraisal tool, and venues like PO Assessment, PRPWs, and Consolidated Assessment Workshops.
3. Setting social objectives and indicator systems
The starting point for a social audit process is for the organization to be clear about its social objectives. PhilDHRRA very recently finalized its strategic directions with clear set of goals where it wants to bring its members and what and how it wants to be involved in the over-all social development process. Its niche was therefore clearly defined with clear set of objectives and indicators. Now, this case study will serve as the network's basis to know whether it is doing something or not achieving anything. It is incumbent upon the stakeholders to formulate their own set of social objectives and indicators in relation to this strategic plan.
The process will not start from zero. The Social Review conducted by PhilDHRRA in 1996 provides the process with an initial list of social objectives for each stakeholder group. These could be deduced from the varied expectations they aired through the report. This shall be the starting point and the social accountant should see to it that these objectives are in consonance with the strategic objectives.
The stakeholders will also set the indicators which should also be consistent with the strategic indicators of the network. Then, the network will not be reinventing the wheel nor create another set of plans and direction that not only it shall not be able to handle but will only further disintegrate the existing PBME process.
4. Consultation and data collection
Consultation will again be done per stakeholder under the identified mode.
For NGO Members. The only possible venue for consultation with member NGOs are the RAs on the GA schedule (except if there would be RAs before the November GA, or there would be no chance within the GA for NGO consultation. In case of the latter, a separate consultation should be scheduled). The social accountant should also prepare the initial data available (e.g., eight-point strategy, summary of stakeholder social objectives based on the social review, etc.)
For PO Partners. PO assessments will be used. The same format for evaluation and subsequent planning format as recommended above may be used.
For secretariat staff. Appraisal periods will be used that should culminate with a forum with the management.
For donor agencies. The assessment will be very relevant for both PhilDHRRA and donor agencies. As mentioned, assessment may be done in caucuses that may be inserted during general assemblies. A separate caucus may be convened if general assemblies seem too tight. Again, the same procedure will be followed.
For board members. A performance assessment meeting may be called before the year ends. The same procedure will be followed.
5. Establishing a social bookkeepings system
If agreed upon, the above matrix (or a revision of which) may be used as a template where all relevant information will be recorded. Hard data will also be kept, but organized in database forms (e.g., staff records, membership database, training records/database, diaries or logs1, minutes of meetings, financial records). The key information should be accurate and complete.
The matrix below may be the likely template to be used. As shown, the social objectives are set and indicators identified, methods of recording should be determined by the social accountant and her/his group to organize the data.
e.g., Stakeholder: Management
Method of recording
To provide relevant staff development trainings
# of trainings provided per work unit
training record sheet
Once the social bookkeeping system has been agreed and set up, the task is to make sure that records are kept regularly and effectively. Regular "social management accounts", the group of sifted accounts that analyze and report on the information that informs and influence the management of the network, like financial management accounts, in their decision making.
Some of this information can be reported as part of regular management reports to the Board. Doing this, with a special item on the agenda "social audit - quarterly report", will ensure that the social audit process is kept in the minds of stakeholders involved. Making these type of summaries of quarterly or periodic information available throughout the network will serve not only to keep people informed but will also help them understand the relevance of social auditing to their interests.
6. Writing of accounts
The internal social accountant will be responsible in consolidating the data into a social accounts report. This implies that data should have been analyzed, interpreted, verified and summarized by the social accountant and her/his team. The external auditor will, in turn, give comments to the written accounts until a final group of accounts are written. If possible, an audit review panel, composed of representatives from stakeholder groups, should review the accounts.
A draft social statement of PhilDHRRA may include:
· statement of PhilDHRRA's mission and objectives;
· explanation of the scope of the social audit process underlying the social accounts for the period in question;
· report on the views of the various stakeholders as to the network's performance in relation to their interests, and the organization's stated objectives;
· mention of indicators, benchmarks and targets used in each area; and
· highlight issues which the network should consider for enhancing its social auditing and overall performance for the future.
Disclosure. The social statement will be published for the public.
8. Use of results
This is most crucial. The accounts, and efforts, will be futile if the network will dismiss them altogether. The results should be used as basis for the succeeding planning and budgeting of the network.
A social review report has been published last year. It was the network's first attempt at social auditing. Nevertheless, PhilDHRRA recognizes the many things that it yet needs to do in finetuning the integration of the social audit processes with its existing PBME system and tools. What is written up above is an attempt. But what it wants to convey through this document is the principle that the tool introduces, or rather reminds us about. As a colleague who heard about social audit principles once said, "social audit in its very essence could not be just a tool but a spirituality" that penetrates, beyond the numerics of assessment and the technicalities of PBME systems, into the very will of the institution to be faithful for who it stands for and to judge itself on the basis these people's views. Then and only then shall it know its true identity.
1 Diaries or logs can be used to record ad hoc incidents of social, community, environmental or other benefits when they happen, rather than being dredged up from fading memories (e.g., video doc on Sept. 21 rally).