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.

Build sufficient time into the project activities schedule for start-up, scale-up, and close-out.

  • Who

    • Others involved: Other proposal development team members including the proposal coordinator, budget and HR leads, and any other operations leads (e.g., supply chain lead; ICT4D lead) and key partner staff; head of operations (HoOps); procurement and/or supply chain manager;If these individuals are not members of the proposal development team. other subject-matter experts; IDEA staff (for funding opportunities with centrally-managed donors, as applicable).
      • The budget lead, HR lead, and any other operations leads work with the technical lead to detail and provide realistic estimates for the timing of start-up and close-out activities in their areas of expertise.
      • The HoOps, procurement manager, supply chain manager (if not part of the proposal development team), and any other key operations staff (e.g., ICT staff, for projects with significant ICT4D components) ensure the activities schedule reflects operational realities.
      • Other subject-matter experts provide inputs and lessons learned on start-up, scale-up, and close-out activities and timing in their areas of expertise.
      • For centrally-managed donor relationships, IDEA staff ensure the activities schedule adequately reflects donor requirements and CRS’ experience regarding donor preferences, complexities, and trends (see also Standard 5, key action 4).

  • When
    • During project activities schedule planning.
  • Partnership
    • Partners are a critical part of the project design/proposal development team which develops the activities schedule.
    • Work with partners to identify their respective capacities and likely support needs in key aspects of project start-up and close-out, including recruitment and onboarding and human resource close-out; staff training on the project technical approach, donor requirements or other issues; operations set-up (e.g., establishing of field offices and supply chain management systems as applicable), etc.
    • In addition to involving CRS operations staff in the activities schedule development process, consult experienced partner operations staff whose deep understanding of the project operating context will help with realistic scheduling.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • While the prime will develop the overall project activities schedule, unrealistic expectations from the prime regarding start-up, scale-up (as applicable), and close-out may lead to project management challenges for CRS. Follow the guidance above to ensure that the schedule for the activities for which CRS is responsible is realistic and informed by experience and knowledge of the operating environment. Ideally, CRS should also contribute to planning the overall project activities schedule.
    • If CRS has sub-recipient partners of its own, follow the process above to engage those partners in identifying and developing realistic schedules for project activities for which CRS and its subs are responsible, including start-up, scale-up and close-out.
  • Emergency projects
    • Given the need for rapid start-up in an emergency response, factor the following into the timing of start-up activities:
      • The availability of appropriate pre-positioned supplies.
      • The feasibility of temporarily reassigning existing country program or regional assets to support the emergency response.
      • The anticipated level of support from the Humanitarian Response Department (HRD).
      • The use of emergency provisions or waivers for streamlining CRS operational systems.
    • Many emergency projects are part of a broader emergency response. As such, start-up activities for individual emergency projects may be more limited, depending on how much the new project builds on ongoing activities or aims to expand or scale them up (new field locations, new staff, etc.). 
    • Similarly, close-out timelines for individual emergency projects may be shortened if it is clear during emergency response planning that CRS will follow immediate relief activities with a recovery project.
    • The nature of emergency response often requires continuing delivery of project services and implementation of project activities for as long as possible. Therefore, “front-loading” close-out activities as suggested above is often not possible. For externally-funded projects, work with the donor to determine an appropriate close-out schedule keeping in mind the donor and CRS’ requirements and internal processes for financial and administrative closure.
    • If you are working on a large-scale emergency where several Caritas Internationalis (CI) Members are responding and/or supporting a response of the national Caritas, please refer to the Protocol for CI Coordination in Emergency Response, Emergency Framework and Toolkit for Emergency Response documents on the CI Baobab website.  These documents provide guidance on coordination and the process of developing, implementing, monitoring and reporting on an Emergency Appeal for funding via the CI Network. If you are not registered on the CI Baobab site, please register here.When registering for the CI Baobab site, CRS staff should select "Caritas United States - CRS" as their organization and list the Humanitarian Response Department and as the reference contact.  If you have any questions, please contact CRS’ Humanitarian Response Department (