Saturday 2 July 2011

Expectations and deliverables

I am heading into my last 4 months or so of my placement so this is a good time to take stock, consolidate what has been done, finalise what needs to be completed before November.

A prospective volunteer makes her assessment of the suitability and desirability of a placement offer from the placement outline. There are no formal interviews, no opportunity  to meet the boss or the team, no seeing the organisation and the work environment before you decide – you go in pretty much blind. ) Looking back at the original placement outline,  mine  said 

“The purpose of this placement is to strengthen the OD processes of the organisation and to set up systems that can be utilised, sustained and contribute to the growth of the organisation”

1 Creating a long-term organisational strategy Long term organisational strategy in place
2 Streamlining internal information systems (quality of reporting, centralised reporting and its compilation) Quality standards for documentation set

A centralised reporting system created with linkages to various project information

Internal information storing and management streamlined
3 Support in strengthening funding base of the organisation Fundraising plan in place

So how has this materialised in practice?
The role has involved working closely with key staff at the NGO (namely the General Secretary and the Documentation Officer) to improve organisational process, on fundraising and MIS systems. This  has been done by sharing skills to develop sustainable processes,taking/making opportunities to improve communications materials, develop fundraising strategy, improve information systems, strengthen management, business and technical skills and initiate long term planning.
It sounded and turned out to be a broad brush placement, ideal for my skills & experience set. So what do I think I have achieved?

Executive coaching - -The key has been building a strong relationship of trust with NGO General Secretary. I have provided thought leadership re organisational transformation and executive level coaching to him. I delivered sound advice, suggestions and management skills coaching: for example, exposure to alternative time management tools; coaching through new ways of approaching /resolving the hiring issues faced in succession planning (e.g. golden handcuffs, role premiums) and in the refinement of the organisation’s Vision/Mission statements.

Marketing Communications – The second key relationship has been with the Documentation officer. Relatively new to the role, she and I worked well early on to conceptualise the Shakti brand and to design and deliver Shakti’s first ever logo (with help from friend and ex colleague Judy Bandy,  and from the team at 2i Design in Cambridge (news) who undertook our design work pro bono – many thanks folks!) The organisation’s stationary was redesigned, its first ever brochure and organisational leaflets , many of its internal forms redesigned, its first website and blog built. The blog and organisation’s facebook page are now being run entirely by the Documentation Officer. We have just this past week started a project to revamp, expand and improve the website (with web design assistance from fellow VSO volunteer Gina)

Organisational Strategy – I guided the General Secretary through his first Organisational Assessment and consequential Action Planning. I undertook an HR Assessment and provided suggestions for improvements to both HR Manual, process for the incorporation of a Gender strategy. I delivered a Fundraising Plan to significantly change and strengthen funding base, rationalise scope of projects. Associated fundraising processes (donor mapping etc) established and staff trained (with assistance from VSO colleague Brooke). I delivered an IT review and an IS plan to provide a solid foundation for the organisation’s IT requirements and to improve systems operational performance to support projects and programme work. All office computers have been updated, memory added, updated versions of software installed, antivirus software upgraded, a LAN installed, backup and recovery processes initiated (with assistance from fellow VSO volunteer Corey) and associated supportive training provided. We have begun a records management exercise, reviewing existing files, agreeing retention schedules.

I am working closely with General Secretary to pull together a very large strategic programme to take the NGO on its next step towards its long term goal of becoming a state wide resource centre.  I am supporting and advising on concept note development and proposal writing to support this transformational change.

Capacity Building Training – Fundraising, communications, basic Office IT skills. Encouraged Documentation Officer and built her skills and confidence re social media, blogging and associated IT skills, delivering training in basic HTML, Live Writer, Blogger & Facebook. Improved quality of reporting through capacity building relevant IT skills e.g. graphical data analysis. Delivered proposal and designed training to improve field staff photographic skills. Conducted Microsoft Word & Publisher 2010 Training ( Excel and PowerPoint training in the pipeline)

So did I do exactly what was on the job description? Probably not, but plus ça change! On the whole I am fairly pleased with what has been done and most importantly I really do think the vast majority of it can be sustained after I go. We do need to consolidate the IT management processes for the LAN and when our faulty NAS drive is  finally replaced by the manufacturer I will ensure we go over the backup and recovery procedures to reinforce these anew. Likewise the fundraising research process needs to be consolidated and internalised better by Shakti staff, so a review of that is in order.

I will be completing the Microsoft Office 2010 training and providing follow up help, advice and encouragement, continuing to work on the series of fundraising proposals and concept note submissions for the new projects, integrating new project staff and their requirements into what we have so far achieved (watch this space for an imminent formal announcement on our successful bid and new project), and continuing to work with the General Secretary on the groundwork for the transformation to a Livelihoods Resource Centre.  He and I have identified several others areas and specific projects at Shakti which would benefit from the assistance of International and /or National volunteers and proposals for these will need to be drafted.

What could have been done which hasn’t been?
Well top of this list has to be Project Management for the field office staff. I certainly could  deliver appropriate capacity building training in this area. As most of the field staff have little of no English, an Oriya interpreter is required.

Also, the Organisational Assessment indicated a requirement for improving Decision Making and Problem Solving skills. At this point in time I am not entirely sure we will have time to do this, much as though I would like to.

It seems like I will be having a busy last few months!


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