Key Actions by:

About Compass

The Compass website supports Catholic Relief Services (CRS) staff in attaining project management excellence across CRS emergency response and development projects. Compass provides step-by-step guidance and practical resources that support achievement of the CRS project management standards.


All CRS staff who play a significant role in project design, start-up, planning, implementation, and close-out should use this website to better understand and fulfill their roles in carrying out the key actions required to achieve each of the 18 CRS project management standards.

Compass users include:

Search for your position or role

Staff of all CRS development and emergency projects should use Compass guidance. Staff may have different needs when using Compass guidance, shaped by the individual project context. See below for more information on how to adapt Compass if needed.


Compass provides you with the guidance necessary to carry out each key action in the 18 CRS project management standards. Compass explains:

  • Why a key action is necessary for effective project management
  • Who is responsible for or involved in the key action
  • When the key action should be carried out
  • How to complete the key action

In addition, Compass provides links* to:

  • CRS policies and procedures related to key actions
  • Tools and templates to use in carrying out key actions
  • Other resources providing more information or context related to the key action or specific how-to steps.

*While the Compass website is available to CRS partners and other interested stakeholders, please note some Compass links will only be accessible to Compass users with CRS intranet privileges.

Finally, Compass provides information on partnership considerations specific to each key action, and guidance for staff implementing key actions in an emergency project or a project where CRS is sub-recipient.


The project management standards and Compass guidance apply to all CRS emergency and development projects: large or small; funded by donors or discretionary resources; single or multi-country. Guidance is written from the perspective of projects managed by individual country programs, which comprise the majority of CRS projects. Staff working on multi-country or global projects should adapt Compass guidance accordingly.

Compass users may also need to adjust other aspects of Compass guidance to their project context. For example, some guidance language is more specific to externally-funded projects; staff working on discretionary-funded projects may need to adjust certain terms. As described in CRS’ ProPack I (The CRS Project Package: Guidance on Project Design for CRS Project and Program Managers), Compass users should “telescope”—i.e., suitably adapt, but not skip, key action guidance in certain contexts, in the same way that a user of a telescope can adjust the telescope to get the best result in a given situation, without losing any of the telescope’s useful features. Users will find reminders and suggestions about telescoping throughout Compass.


Compass incorporates, but does not replace, resources from ProPack I, for key actions in the design phase and SMILER (sometimes known as ProPack III) for key actions related to developing and managing a project’s MEAL system.

Compass essentially replaces CRS’ 2007 project management guidance resource, ProPack II (The CRS Project Package: Project Management and Implementation Guidance for CRS Project and Program Managers).

Compass guidance and tools draw on relevant content from ProPack II. However, Compass presents project management guidance and tools in a new way, following the organization of the 18 CRS project management standards by project cycle phase and project management category. In addition, while ProPack II was primarily focused on project managers, Compass includes guidance and tools developed for a broad, cross-discipline audience of programming, finance, human resources, procurement and supply chain management, business development and donor engagement staff

Learn more about the CRS project management standards and key actions.