Key Actions by:

Standard 2: Evidence-based, participatory design for project success.

Employ evidence-based, participatory processes to design a project that can deliver high-quality results on time, on scope and on budget.

Determine the project scope and scale based on evidence and experience.

  • Why

    Project success is dependent on balancing scope (e.g. sectors, interventions), scale (e.g. participants, organizations, geographic reach), time and budget. In many cases, the project timeframe and budget are predetermined. Identifying the appropriate project scope and scale, based on experience and evidence, is one of the most critical design decisions to ensure quality implementation and achieve impact. Using experience and evidence to determine project scope and scale has significant impact on project management as it:

    • Ensures that the project strategy is relevant, credible, and appropriate to the project context.
    • Ensures a feasible activity schedule.
    • Facilitates realistic project budgeting.
    • Helps the project design team avoid superficial or erroneous assumptions or conclusions.
    • Creates a solid basis for measuring project progress and impact.
  • When
    • As early as possible in the design process, with adjustments as needed based on new or updated information.
      • The project design team outlines initial thinking about scope and scale at Project Alert/Go-No-Go stage, makes preliminary decisions on scope and scale at concept note (initial design) stage, and refines decisions during full proposal development.
  • Partnership
    • Involve and accompany partners in planning and conducting project needs assessments.
    • Involve partners appropriately in the analysis and interpretation of assessment findings, and in relevant project design decisions. This is often done through partner participation in a design workshop or workshops. See Standard 2, key action 2 for additional guidance on engaging partners in the project design process.
    • Partners have deep knowledge of local issues that may impact the feasibility of a potential project strategy. Engage partners in discussions of programming and operations considerations that influence decisions about project scope and scale, including strategy identification, analysis, and prioritization.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
  • Emergency projects
    • In emergencies, assessment information on what other actors are doing or are planning to do and related gap analysis is essential for decision-making about project scope and scale. Coordinate closely with other stakeholders (UN and UN cluster system, NGOs, government authorities) to gather this information.
    • In addition to assessment information on other stakeholders’ plans, the proposal development team must also consider information from rapid needs assessments and logistics assessments. Needs and feasibility assessments often take place simultaneously and should include operations staff participation to ensure an adequate assessment of operations issues that will affect programming strategies. 
    • Availability of pre-positioned supplies, the possibility of temporarily reassigning existing assets (when feasible), and the use of emergency provisions or waivers for streamlining CRS operational systems should be factored into the determination of emergency project scale and scope.
    • Emergency responses often prioritize scale (reaching more people with fewer activities) over scope (implementing activities touching on multiple sectors).
    • Given what is often a fluid situation on the ground, emergency donors typically allow for modifications to the project’s sectoral and geographical focus and/or activities. This may include changes to project scope and scale, if there is strong justification that the changes are needed to respond effectively to priority unmet needs.
    • In an emergency response, project design decisions are often made for the overall emergency response, rather than for specific projects/proposals. This provides additional flexibility to tailor each specific project’s scope and scale to donor preferences and priorities.
    • See ProPack I’s “How is this different in an emergency response” sections in the highlighted chapters for more guidance.