Key Actions by:

Standard 6: Early transition and start-up planning (including pre-award).

Transition from the design/proposal team to the project start-up team and plan and conduct early start-up activities.

Conduct partner capacity assessments and prepare for capacity strengthening.

  • Why

    Organizational capacity assessments are an opportunity to identify organizational strengths, as well as areas and program functions that need improvement. Capacity assessments:

    • Help CRS and partners identify and develop capacity strengthening plans to support partners to effectively implement the project.
    • Provide an opportunity for CRS and partner organizations to build trust and cultivate a long-term relationship.
    • Set a baseline from which to measure results.
  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP) or other individual trained in CRS’ approach to partner capacity assessment (see box below)
      • The PM/CoP ensures that the partner capacity assessment is conducted per CRS’ partnership and capacity strengthening approach.

    • Others involved: Staff with partnership and capacity strengthening expertise from the country program, region, or headquarters (HQ); country representative (CR) and senior management team (SMT); technical advisors and subject matter experts from programming, finance, and other operations
      • Staff with partnership and capacity strengthening expertise provide technical support;
      • The CR and SMT provide support in areas that are particularly strategic and/or sensitive, and participate in action planning;
      • Programming, operations, and finance experts support the adaptation of assessment tools (as needed), participate in the assessment, and support action plan development.

    Capacity for capacity assessment: If the PM/CoP is not trained in CRS’ approach to partner capacity assessment, he or she contacts partnership@crs.org. The HQ partnership and capacity strengthening team and Community of Practice will help the PM/CoP to identify an individual with the required expertise in the country, region or HQ to take primary responsibility for the Holistic Organizational Capacity Assessment Instrument (HOCAI) assessment.

  • When
    • Follow the schedule laid out in the early start-up plan; conduct the assessment by the end of the first quarter at the latest. 
    • Ideally CRS and each partner conducts an initial capacity assessment during the design phase. In such cases, the start-up phase assessment will:
      • Complement the preliminary design phase assessment.
      • Update that assessment based on additional information about the project.
      • Serve as the first comprehensive assessment of capacity and needs related to the project.
  • Partnership
    • This action focuses exclusively on partners; see the “how” steps above.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Follow the same process if CRS is responsible for assessments and capacity strengthening of any sub-recipient partners. 
    • If CRS local partners are direct sub-recipients of the prime organization, prepare the partners to negotiate with the prime on assessments and capacity strengthening plans.
  • Emergency projects
    • In an emergency response, carefully analyze the time and resources available, and telescope the assessment process steps accordingly.
    • Approach any capacity strengthening assessment with sensitivity, keeping in mind that partners may have been directly affected by the emergency.
    • Help emergency partners scale up rapidly; help partners scale down in a manner that maintains an appropriate level of skilled staff and organizational systems.