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منصة تعلّم الاستثمار(ILP)

Supervision and Implementation support

The primary responsibility for implementation of public investment projects lies with the government, but for externally funded projects, the financing institution regularly reviews progress to ensure adherence to agreed-upon project commitments as well as rules and regulations for implementation. Implementation support is about providing assistance beyond scrutiny. Where weaknesses are identified, the financing agency can put in place short-term or more regular expert support to the implementing agency to address problems, enhance performance and ultimately strengthen national capacity.

Specifically at investment planning level, it should be ensured that projects, programmes and other implementation mechanisms are linked to the agreed-upon results, priorities and implementation frameworks defined in the plan; that performance is tracked and lessons are noted; and that appropriate coordination and accountability mechanisms are in place to promote coherent implementation.

Project supervision refers to regular reviews by the funding agency in line with schedules agreed to in the loan or grant agreement. The purpose of these reviews is to check that the project is on track with the annual work plan and confirm that the budget is being implemented as agreed, disbursements are compliant with fiduciary requirements (including financial management and procurement aspects), inputs are being provided, activities are being conducted according to schedule, information is being recorded in the management information system (MIS) and monitoring is being carried out as agreed, with appropriate adjustments made in light of emerging opportunities or constraints. Where these conditions are found not to be the case, the supervision team should discuss reasons for the difference and possible remedial action with the implementing agency, as well as other stakeholders as appropriate. Findings and next steps are agreed upon with the implementing team as well as the responsible managers and decision-makers. 

Implementation support is more continuous and refers to support provided by external experts, usually facilitated by the financing institution, in areas that have been identified as problematic or that present new opportunities to enhance the capacity of the implementation team to perform well and achieve envisaged results. The support provided depends upon the type of issue identified and may include enhanced dialogue with key stakeholders, direct technical assistance with analysis and documentation, workshops, training and exchange visits. 

Specifically, supervision and implementation support at the investment plan level helps ensure that projects, programmes and other implementation mechanisms are linked to the agreed-upon results, priorities and implementation frameworks defined in the plan, that performance is tracked and that lessons are being learned, in order to modify implementation arrangements where necessary. It further considers the level of engagement, coordination and buy-in of all institutions and stakeholder groups that contribute to the investment plan results. Regular implementation support can also assist in identifying emerging gaps and bottlenecks in the implementation of priority areas or programmes defined in the plan, and can support the creation of appropriate links between different initiatives to enhance results.

What is the value added of supervision and implementation support?

It is generally acknowledged that a sound and effective supervision and implementation performance can turn around a poorly-designed project while poor implementation can disrupt as well-designed project. Hence, a strong rationale for improving supervision and implementation exists as an external review of project implementation at regular intervals can help to assess if implementation is on track, ensure that resources are used appropriately, confirm that the project is achieving what it has set out to do and identify additional support required to assist the implementation team in enhancing performance. Also, regular supervision and support to project implementation can ensure that emerging problems are addressed early on and that the necessary skills and capacity are developed as needed in a timely manner.

For supervision and implementation support to be effective, sufficient flexibility needs to be foreseen in the project design and implementation arrangements to allow for reallocation of activities, budget lines and use of contingency funds where support needs are identified during supervision and review missions.

What should be considered in supervision and implementation support?

In assessing progress, supervision should make reference to key project information as accessible in project documents, appraisal reports, the results framework, the loan or grant agreement or the letter to the borrower that specifies contract and fiduciary arrangements, as well as the project implementation manual, annual work plans and regular monitoring reports.

Key supervision tasks are to: 

  • consider the appropriateness of the project implementation strategy to achieve the intended results on the ground with the intended target group, through direct interaction with project beneficiaries, and propose adjustments where necessary;
  • review implementation progress against targets and indicators defined in the results framework and in annual work plans;
  • consider changes in circumstances not foreseen during design, help identify emerging problems and constraints, as well as new opportunities, and discuss potential revisions of the project scope or approach to reflect these;
  • assess the feasibility of the current work plan and consider implications for the proposed work plan for the next period and for the overall time frame of the project;
  • review the adequacy of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system for providing relevant information in a timely manner and propose adjustments where appropriate;
  • review expenditures compared to plans, identify discrepancies and assess whether the project can be implemented within the original budget or if adjustments are required;
  • review compliance with fiduciary standards and agreements, such as procurement and financial and accounting systems.

Who should provide supervision and implementation support?

Supervision is generally carried out by a donor-recruited team working together with the project management team. This  supervision can generally be conducted by national staff or teams, although outside assistance/independent review can be useful for a wider overview of such projects/programmes as a whole. The team should include experts in the areas or themes in which regular monitoring has highlighted performance constraints or where there is a change of circumstances or opportunities that requires a more detailed look at appropriate adjustments to the implementation plan. Some financing agencies may delegate supervision to another international agency or to specialized service providers.

BOX 1: Key messages

  • Supervision and implementation support are key activities of investment projects funded through development assistance.
  • It is generally acknowledged that a sound and effective supervision and implementation performance can turn around a poorly-designed project while poor implementation can disrupt a well-designed projects.
  • A spotlight effect might take place during supervision and implementation support whereby constraints and opportunities become more visible and are addressed/realized in a more effective manner.
  • Supervision and implementation support help to ensure a project keeps on track and emerging problems are addressed early on and brought to the attention of relevant managers.
  • Most donors have specific supervision requirements.
  • Supervision and reporting needs to be planned for from the design stage, with enough flexibility built into the project design to be able to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
  • Supervision teams need to include experts in the relevant challenging fields of project implementation.
  • Supervision should combine an external progress review perspective with a focus on identifying the areas where implementation support is needed to enhance performance. Analysis and recommendations should be developed in close collaboration with the management team.
  • Supervision missions and their timely, concise and action-oriented reports should form the basis for prioritization and adjustments in implementation modalities within the agreed-upon results framework, as well as providing recommendations for specific implementation support activities and respective allocation of funds.
  • Implementation support is about providing assistance to and strengthening the capacity of the implementation team to enhance performance and achievement of results.

Steps in Supervision

Normally, one to two supervision missions should be conducted per year. Supervision timing and team composition should be adapted to the country and project requirements. The steps for a supervision mission are as follows: 

  • Prepare terms of reference (TORs) for the supervision team, defining roles, responsibilities and priorities and expected outputs. Depending on the capacity of the country, TORs may be drafted by the donor organization or by the recipient – but in all cases, both need to endorse the TORs.
  • Recruit the expert team members for main supervision missions (for donor-funded projects these will usually be recruited by the donors themselves but should be acceptable to the implementing organization and project management). Recruit individual consultants for specific activities or area reviews. Outside experts always need to work with local counterparts. 
  • Make appointments with all key officials and stakeholders prior to the mission, agree on preliminary timing for the initial and closing meetings with the relevant managers; 
  • Conduct field visits, interviews, round tables and other discussions to review progress;
  • Summarize the findings of the team and include recommendations for action. Proposals may include acceleration of implementation, accepting delays or providing support to get the project back on track. Findings should be reflected in a mission aide-memoire, an implementation progress report in the format of the financing agency, amendments to the work plan and, where necessary, to the project implementation manual. 
  • Identify implementation support on the basis of these findings to address constraints and opportunities (see below).

Recommendations, once accepted, should be followed up, implemented by the project management team and implementation should be documented.

Implementation Support

Implementation support will depend on the specific needs of the individual project and country programme. Implementation support should not just be reactive, i.e. responding to identified problems as they arise. Support should also be proactive, using the results of supervision missions and ongoing M&E to identify potential problems and act to prevent them from developing, or to explore new opportunities arising from a change in circumstances. Examples of implementation support during the project include:

  • assistance in identification and recruitment of technical assistance to address issues which arise during project implementation;
  • capacity development through workshops/training for project management, implementing agency staff, partner agencies and other stakeholders, to enhance motivation and technical skills or to support organizational change;
  • assistance in project policy and legal issues important to project/programme implementation;
  • facilitating learning and knowledge sharing within and between implementing agencies, partners and other stakeholders;
  • assistance to the implementing agencies on how to address key donor concerns, such as beneficiary participation, gender mainstreaming, participation, empowerment and environmental issues;
  • technical assistance in resolving financial, recruitment, procurement and other management or fiduciary issues.

Supervision and implementation support missions are excellent opportunities for the provision of capacity development support. One option is that external subject matter experts on the support team work closely with the respective responsible staff on the implementation team (on-the-job training), analysing constraints and developing solutions in close collaboration, with external experts providing relevant guidance based upon international good practice.

It is important to bear in mind that the main role of both supervision and implementation support is to assist and facilitate effective project/programme implementation, not to manage the project. As such, the external team works in support of the project management team and implementing agency, while maintaining an external viewpoint for analysing challenges and proposing alternative solutions in collaboration with the project management team.

Key Resources

Country CAADP Implementation Guidelines under the Malabo Declaration (NEPAD, 2016)

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Accelerating CAADP Country Implementation(NEPAD, 2010)

 

 

Guide aimed at enhancing the CAADP implementation at the country level. It is designed for all those involved in supporting and managing the CAADP process.

RuralInvest Module 3 (FAO, 2007)

Introduces simple and basic concepts and tools for the collection and treatment of information for the financial analysis of small-scale investments. It is an important resource for those wanting to engage with communities in discussions on project benefits and to analyze the impact of future or current project interventions at the participants level.

Stocktaking of M&E and management information systems: Selected agricultural and rural development projects in South Asia(FAO, 2012)

Key points about which ME&L approaches, methodologies and processes best serve projects in achieving results, as well as how to combine MIS and ME&L systems to ensure their usefulness for project management.

Social Analysis Sourcebook: Incorporating Social Dimensions into Bank-Supported Projects (World Bank, 2003)

This sourcebook describes good practice in the application of social analysis to World Bank-supported operations. It is based on five years of Bank experience (1997-2002) in addressing social dimensions into project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Good Practice Template (FAO, 2014)

Guides users in identifying and capturing good practices throughout projects and programme cycles or after events and activities have taken place.

A guide for project M&E (IFAD, 2002)

Clear tool to help underline starting points and expected outputs of a project, stress its purposes and focus on the activities, while sharing knowledge with stakeholders.