People have great ideas all the time. Some of these ideas can change everything and make the world more awesome. But there is a little problem. Some people have no idea how to manifest their ideas. How they put together all the ideas they have and make it work is a project.
What is a project?
A project is a sequence of activities executed to achieve clearly specified results within a defined time-period and with a defined budget. In our context, projects are agents of sustainable development in the society. Development Projects is a longer name which is seldom used. A project often tackles issues and proffer solutions to predominant societal problems.
A project should also have:
- Clearly identified stakeholders, including the primary target group and the last beneficiaries;
- Clearly defined co-ordination, management and financing arrangements;
- A monitoring and evaluation system (to support performance management); and
- A proper level of financial and economic analysis, which indicates that the project’s benefits will exceed its costs.
Developmental projects irrespective of who designs them have the potential to attract donor funding. Donor funds are also called grants and help to executing the project. The most important aspect of executing projects is in achieving quality results. This is often difficult for many organizations because of some basic mistakes in designing projects.
Some common problems with projects
There are a number of problems affecting projects and often make it impossible for them to become impacting. Some of these problems are stated below:
Disconnect with national policy:
Some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have laudable ideas on how best to promote human rights and development in poor countries. It is a great dream to want change based on international policies that have not been domesticated or implemented within the nation. An example is the agitation for referendum in Nigeria for an independent State (Biafra Republic), when the constitution states that Nigeria is a united indivisible entity. The word referendum does not even exist in the constitution. It is not a good practice to start projects that do not have the backing of national policies. Such projects cannot be sustained.
Inadequate Local Ownership of Projects:
Projects ought to solve the needs of the people. They should have adequate local participation and local ownership. The concept to note in project execution should not be ‘to do for the poor’ rather, the concept of projects should be ‘to do by the poor’. Good projects have beneficiaries leading the project. They are therefore better able to sustain the results of the project long after the project have been completed.
Duplicity of Projects and Poor Collaborations between CSOs:
There are huge number of development projects, funded by different donors each with their own management and reporting arrangements. Oftentimes, most of these projects are similar and are implemented within similar environments. CSOs are often unwilling to partner with each other especially in developing countries. Reasons given usually relate to credits for job done and dominance. Duplicity of projects cause large sums to be spent on administration and delivering projects that should cost less. Projects that have linkages with relevant partners produce quality results that are sustainable.
Poor Project Planning:
It is a common but bad practice for CSOs to develop projects without due consultations with all stakeholders. Some of the resulting projects are idealistic but may lack the power to succeed or even make any reasonable change. The process of developing a proposal is tasking and painstaking but the rewards outweighs the sacrifice to be made.
In the long run, projects are great development efforts to improve society. It is desirable that public interests supersede those of private individuals and organizations.
Michael is a Project Manager with years of experience in nonprofits and managing startups. He shares what he has learnt over time with like-minded persons. He gives classes to persons who plan a future in the nonprofits sector or as entrepreneurs.