Key Actions by:

Standard 1: Effective planning for quality project design.

Establish a robust proposal development team and a realistic timeline that follows standard CRS guidance for project design and ensures partner collaboration and support in the design process.

Develop and implement a bridge staffing plan to ensure current activities are properly managed while the new proposal is being developed.

  • Why

    Effective participation in the project design and proposal development process requires significant time from proposal development team members, often over an extended period of weeks or months. Formally planning for coverage of proposal development team members’ regular responsibilities:

    • Ensures that proposal development efforts do not adversely affect ongoing activities, particularly management of ongoing projects.
    • Enables identification of additional, temporary staffing needs in a timely manner.
    • Allows staff assigned to proposal development to dedicate the necessary level of effort to producing a quality proposal instead of juggling both regular work and proposal development tasks.
  • How

    Follow these steps to ensure proper coverage of ongoing responsibilities during proposal development:

    Identifying proposal development team member responsibilities and coverage needs and plans

    1. The supervisor of each proposal development team member (identified per Standard 1, key action 1) requests the staff member to summarize major ongoing responsibilities and any special tasks during the anticipated period for the proposal development process.
    2. Supervisors and proposal development team members review the responsibilities and tasks requiring coverage to identify appropriate options. This includes considering the feasibility and pros and cons of:
    • Delaying or otherwise rescheduling certain tasks.
    • Putting certain responsibilities on hold until after the proposal development process.
    • Requesting TDY support or assigning other staff to complete specific tasks or cover priority responsibilities (see the bridge staffing plan template for examples).

    The proposal coordinator participates in these discussions to understand team members’ responsibilities and coverage plans, and to ensure proposed plans will allow team members to contribute the required level of effort (LOE) to the proposal development process.

    Special considerations for donor and partner relations: Changes in how staff who normally work on an externally funded project charge their time may require donor prior approval or consultation. This may also be required if CRS proposes assigning another staff person to temporarily cover the responsibilities of a project-funded staff member. Additionally, if a proposal development team member works closely with a specific partner, there may be issues to consider regarding how to manage the partner relationship during the staff person’s proposal development assignment. Use the bridge staffing plan to capture actions needed for such special circumstances.

    1. The proposal coordinator compiles the responsibilities and the proposed coverage plans, using the bridge staffing plan template (adapt as needed).
    2. Using the tasks and coverage plans identified in the bridge staffing plan, supervisors and proposal development team members finalize a scope of work (SOW) for each coverage assignment.

    Determining if additional staff support is needed: Consult with senior management if it becomes clear that a majority of a proposal development team member’s responsibilities require ongoing and active coverage, potentially over an extended period. Temporarily reassigning tasks requiring a high level of effort to multiple staff may result in a significant loss of quality in the execution of those tasks. In such cases, senior management, in consultation with the region, may consider temporarily increasing overall country program staffing. Options could include bringing on a new temporary full-time or TDY staff (e.g., a CRS Field Management Response Team member), or hiring a temporary, part-time staff to cover the proposal development team member’s responsibilities for the duration of the proposal development process.

    Reviewing and securing support for coverage plans

    1. The proposal coordinator shares a draft of the bridge staffing plan with the proposal decision-maker, and any other members of the CRS SMT as needed, for review and approval. Note that the plan may be tentative at this stage, with some coverage options still to be confirmed. When reviewing the draft plan, the proposal decision-maker and other SMT members should discuss the following:
    • Are the coverage plans realistic? If not, what changes are needed?
    • How will we monitor implementation of the coverage plans?

    Senior management endorsement and support of bridge staffing plans is essential: If coverage of proposal development team members’ ongoing responsibilities is not planned out in detail and agreed to by those involved in providing coverage and their supervisors, tasks may go uncompleted or staff may stretch themselves too thin. This negatively affects project progress, relationships and morale. Senior management must review and confirm with any non-SMT supervisors the feasibility of the coverage options proposed, and support supervisors and proposal development team members to promptly address coverage issues if they arise.  

    1. The proposal decision-maker confirms supervisors of staff who will provide temporary coverage are supportive of the arrangements, and contacts headquarters (HQ) and regional colleagues as needed to confirm external TDY or consultant coverage support.
    2. Depending on assignment length and responsibilities, staff and supervisors may consider formally adjusting the lines of supervision and/or performance plans.
    • This suggestion applies to both proposal development team members and those providing bridge coverage.
    • Clearly describe the lines of supervision for those providing bridge coverage in SOWs.
    • For large proposals, it is good practice for the country representative (CR) to communicate to country program and regional staff any reassignments/revised responsibilities of country program staff; adjustments in supervisory arrangements during the proposal development period; and the period for reassignments and supervision changes. 

    Organizing proper handover and feedback

    1. Proposal development team members and their supervisors organize formal handover and debriefs with any country program staff or TDY staff providing temporary coverage. Handover should take place at the beginning and end of the coverage period. Handover and debriefing may cover many issues but should include:
    • (For staff who work on individual projects) A review of the project risk register and issues log.
    • A review of formal handover notes, highlighting key tasks requiring immediate action or follow-up.
    1. The supervisor provides feedback to the TDY staff and his/her supervisor on the TDY support.

    Recognize exceptional efforts: Don’t forget to provide appropriate recognition, per CRS country program policy, for the contributions of staff taking on additional responsibilities (e.g., acting roles).

  • Partnership
    • CRS and partners should discuss the implications of shifting partner staff working on other projects to the proposal development team, and ensure appropriate coverage of their project management responsibilities.
    • If helpful, CRS can review the above guidance and bridge staffing planning template with partners, to assist them with managing coverage for ongoing activities when partner staff are involved in proposal development.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Depending on the nature and intensity of CRS’ role in the prime-led proposal development process, CRS may also need to arrange bridge staffing. In such cases, follow the process outlined above.
  • Emergency projects
    • Given the pace and demands of emergency response, it is best to have dedicated human resources for proposal development (e.g., business development specialist, TDY support) rather than relying on proposal development support from staff who are implementing the emergency response.
    • As emergencies typically require “all hands on deck,” with staff from non-emergency projects re-assigned to the emergency response and/or proposal development activities, the bridge staffing plan can serve as an important tool for identifying and managing human resource commitments and gaps for new assignments as well as regular tasks.
    • The bridge staffing plan template may also be useful for emergency response teams for planning staffing coverage outside of proposal development.