The lack of capacity for building and maintaining RBM systems has been a particular problem for international organizations. Indeed, designing and building planning, and M&E systems that can produce trustworthy, timely, and relevant information on the performance of projects, programmes, and policies requires experience, skill, and real institutional capacity.
The capacity for an RBM system has to include, at a minimum, the ability to successfully develop objectives and outcomes; construct indicators; the means to collect, aggregate, analyze, and report on performance data in relation to indicators and baselines; and managers with the skill and understanding to know what to do with the information once it arrives. Building such capacity in international organizations is often a long-term effort.
Statistical capacity is an essential component of building RBM systems. Information and data should be valid, verifiable, transparent, and widely available to the organization and interested stakeholders. Technically trained staff and managers are therefore a must.
UN-Habitat capacity building activities in the area of results-based management are supported by a “capacity self-assessment for effective implementation of RBM” also called a Cap-Scan, which enables identification of strengths, weaknesses and ways to improve the achievement of results.
The Cap-Scan exercise is important for UN-Habitat in that it provides an analytical framework and participatory process for managers and staff to assess progress in developing a culture, behaviour and systems to manage for development results; and helps them prioritise concrete steps to improve RBM implementation. Moreover, the Cap-Scan enhances institutional insights into RBM, and provides a framework for investing in capacity improvement for results. It is unique in that it examines the people, systems, structures, cultural fit and consistency of application across UN-Habitat. The insights gained on the peculiarities, practicalities and barriers associated with the implementation of RBM are fundamental in creating a deeper understanding of the best options for the way forward.
The Cap-Scan exercise is generally facilitated by an external consultant, based on terms of reference prepared by the Quality Assurance Unit, which coordinates the assessment and reports back to Senior Management on the findings and recommendations.
The assessment utilizes a framework composed of the following seven pillars:
- Monitoring & reporting
- Statistics and evidence
Within these seven pillars, the assessment looks into several critical elements or dimensions needed for effective implementation of RBM, including: (i) technical skills, (ii) managerial skills, (iii) existence and quality of data systems, (iv) available technology, (v) available resources, and (vi) institutional buy-in. The assessment also directs the examination of existing or potential barriers to building an RBM system, including lack of resources, leadership will, champion, expertise, strategy, or prior experience.
On the champions!!!
Champions in UN-Habitat are critical to the sustainability and success of the RBM system. For example, highly placed champions can be strong advocates for more well-informed decision-making, and can help diffuse and isolate attacks from counter-reformers who may have vested interests in averting the construction of a robust results-based management system.
In addition to highly-placed champions, UN-Habitat identifies, trains and maintains a network of staff members in HQ and Regional Offices to champion RBM and support the implementation of related activities. Their support and advocacy is crucial to the success and sustainability of the RBM system within the agency.
In establishing and maintaining a network of RBM champions, attention must be paid to the placement, both in terms of hierarchy and location, of champions within the organization. To this effect, if the emerging champion is located away from the center of policymaking and has little influence with key decision-makers, it will be difficult, although not impossible, to envision the RBM system being used and trusted.
That is because it is difficult to ensure the viability of the system under these circumstances. Viability is dependent upon the information being viewed as relevant, trustworthy, useable, and timely. RBM systems with marginally placed champions who are peripheral to the decision-making process will have a more difficult time meeting these viability requirements.
Using the results and recommendations of the capacity scan assessment and the network of champions, capacity building in RBM in UN-Habitat therefore takes a more strategic, systematic and coordinated form. It is implemented through:
- Formal training sessions and workshops (face-to-face and via skype or WebEx for offices away from HQ)
- Brown-bag lunch seminar series organized to share and discuss new developments in the area of RBM
The aim of the various capacity building activities is to assist managers, champions and staff in: (i) understanding the basic principles of RBM; (ii) using planning tools effectively; (iii) effectively using monitoring and reporting tools (e.g., data entry, cleaning, and editing in IMDIS to help ensure the quality and timeliness of the information generated); (iv) embedding risk management in their activities; (v) data collection; (vi) data processing and analysis; (vii) data dissemination and usage; and (viii) survey organization and administration.