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close this bookWater and Sanitation Technologies: A Trainer's Manual (Peace Corps, 1985)
close this folderSessions
close this folderSession 12 - Project planning and management
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAttachment 12A: Steps to proactive planning



Two hours


* Analyze factors which -influence the management of development projects.

* Identify practices and procedures which can assist in the management of water and sanitation projects in rural communities

* Learn and practice simple methods of managing one's time spent on a development project.


Small Community Water Supplies, IRC, pp. 19-35

Attachment 12-A: "Steps to Proactive Planning"


Newsprint and felt-tip pens, copies of Attachment 12-A for all trainees


One or more trainers

Trainer Introduction

The theme of effective project management should be emphasized throughout the training program. This session focuses on that theme and provides a guideline for successful project management. Trainers are encouraged to discuss their experiences as project managers during the session. Trainees who have had experience managing projects should also be encouraged to discuss management methods they have used successfully, or unsuccessfully.


Step 1

5 minutes

Present objectives and format for the session

Step 2

20 minutes

Lecturette overview of project management

Trainer Note

Begin by defining what a project is. Here is a possible definition:

"A project is defined as an activity carried out for a definite purpose or goal, within a limited time frame, with limited resources, and in uncertain conditions."

Next define project management. Here is a definition:

"Project management is the process of using human and material resources towards accomplishing tasks necessary to achieve the goals of a project."

Lastly, ask the trainees for some ideas on what good project management would involve. Here are some points which should be mentioned:

*Good planning: A good plan is essential and based on sound organization. It should clearly identify the project goals and objectives, list the human and material resources that will be needed, contain a schedule and time-line for project tasks, speculate on possible obstacles that may need to be overcome, and have a project evaluation component.

*Resource and Information Gathering: Sound knowledge concerning the resources available in the project area, and information about organizations or officials who may be able to assist in the project, are invaluable to successful management.

*The Right People: Any project is only as good as the people who participate in it. Building solid relationships among participating individuals, based on clearly defined roles, delegation of responsibilities, and an open constructive dialogue, can make the difference between the success or failure of any project.

Step 3

10 minutes

Lecturette on the importance of good project management during Peace Corps service.

Trainer Note

Point out that most Volunteers, at some point during their service, manage a development project. Some Volunteers start new projects, some take over an existing on-going project, and others find themselves called upon to complete work that had been started long ago but never finished. Whatever the case, many Volunteers have difficulty with that management task. There is a tendency to plan on a day-to-day basis only, reacting to events rather than planning ahead to control them. However, through the use of effective management skills, Volunteers can, in many cases, carry development projects through to successful conclusions.

Step 4

25 minutes

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of reactive planning and proactive planning.

Trainer Note

Start out by writing "Reactive Planning" on the top of a sheet of newsprint. Ask trainees what the term means to them. Here are some possible responses:

* Passive acceptance of events
* Responding to immediate problems
* Short-time crisis management
* Lack of overall coherent plan

Ask for some advantages of this type of planning:

* Takes little or no preparation time
* Allows participation to avoid personal responsibility for circumstances of the project, and decision-making

Ask for some disadvantages of this type of planning:

* Keeps things at a crisis pace
* Never lets you see or plan ahead
* Often leads project away from original goals
* Rarely leads to a successful conclusion

Next write "Proactive Planning" on a newsprint sheet and ask trainees what the term means to them.

* Active management of project tasks
* Advance planning and setting goals
* Contingency planning to overcome obstacles
* Evaluation and continual improvement of project

Ask for some advantages of this type of planning:

* Anticipates needs and avoids unexpected events
* Allows organization of resources
* Promotes community participation and enthusiasm
* Helps keep the project on track towards goals
* Helps achieve successful conclusion to project

Ask for some disadvantages of this type of planning:

* Takes time, and skill, and hard work
* Requires organization and participation by all involved individuals
* Requires management responsibility and decision-making

Lastly, relate some examples of situations you have been in involving reactive or proactive planning. Or, ask the trainees to give some personal examples.

Step 5

5 minutes


Step 8

10 minutes

Handout Attachment 12-A and review with trainees

Trainer Note

Briefly review each step in the proactive planning process.

Step 7

20 minutes

Discuss three techniques for managing personal time:

* "To Do" List - This is a list of activities relating to the project, things that the Volunteer should do in the immediate future. The list should be checked and revised, if necessary, daily. It should also be prioritized.

* Time Schedule/Calendar Plan - Such a scheduled plan enables a Volunteer to lay out his/her activities for the coming weeks and months. It singles out tasks that need to be accomplished, important dates or deadlines, and resources necessary to carry out various tasks.

* Contingency Plan - Volunteers should always have in mind some alternative plan(s) in case events do not take their expected course. Writing down contingency plans, or simply keeping such plans in mind, should be part of any management program.

Trainer Note

Give examples of each technique as you go along. A sample "To Do" list may be written on newsprint, the same for a calendar plan. Relate some personal experiences on the subject of contingency planning. Point out that these organizational techniques are primarily directed at helping Volunteers manage and plan their own activities. Emphasize that being personally organized and prepared is an essential component of effective project management. This is especially true in third world countries because of the fact such countries often lack the framework and infrastructure found in western countries.

Step 8

15 minutes

Trainees, individually, develop a "To Do" list, calendar plan, and contingency plan for the next week of the training program.

Trainer Note

The trainees need not go into specific detail. Advise them to be general with their lists and plans. Remind them to write down resources. They will need to carry out their plans.

Step 9

10 minutes

Review objectives and conclude by asking if any trainee would like to share what they have written with the group.

REFERENCE: The Role of the Volunteer in Development Manual. Peace Corps, ICE.