In the UK the voluntary sector is clearly a major provider of important public services ranging from the provision of Life Boats to the helping of Children and the Aged.
One look at the facts detailed below verifies this statement:-
- 170,000 + UK Voluntary Organisations
- Sector employs over 650,000 people
- Accounts for a combined sector spend of £34 billion (2009)
With 50% of these voluntary organisations receiving funding from either Central or Local Government it is clear that the planned £3 to £5 billion of government funding cuts combined with further local government funding reductions is going to threaten the survival of many voluntary organisations.
Some have suggested that this funding gap could be offset through greater support from trusts, foundations and philanthropists. However, closer inspection shows that this is just not going to be possible as indicated in various reports published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Please click NCVO 2009 The State of The Voluntary Secto Report in order to get a detailed sector status update.
Faced with this funding gap many voluntary organisations are going to have to do one or all of the following:-
- Partnering more with the private sector which is something we are certainly seeing ourselves at Balance
- Building stronger and wider relationships with funding organisations
- Becoming more efficient in terms of delivering more for less
- Finding an edge in the funding application process
The last two points are where I believe the adoption of accredited best practices such as PRINCE2 could give an organisation the edge in these trying times.
Delivering More for Less
PRINCE2 is a proven project management methodology which can be tailored to set-up and run any kind of project with a focus on delivering to specific Time, Cost, Scope and Quality drivers.
If applied properly the chances project failures through cost overruns, drops in quality or missed delivery dates are minimised.
Funding Application Process
Funding organisations are always looking for the following when they are assessing a Funding Proposal:-
- Clear project objectives
- Definable, Measurable and Realisable Benefits which are in demand
- Value for money – Competitive and realistic cost estimates
- The objectives are achievable through proven “best practices” in the following key areas:-
– Effective Organisational structure
– Development of an effective Communication Strategy (How, When and Who will we communicate with during the project lifecycle)
– Risk and Issue Management
– Detailed Implementation and resource plan
– Methods for project monitoring and performance evaluation
For all of the above points PRINCE2 provides a “painting by numbers” solution for their development and application.
However, if you work for a voluntary organisation who does not have if any qualified PRINCE2 practitioners and you are convinced that using PRINCE2 best practices could give your voluntary organisation the edge, then you’re next step will be to convince your trustees /sponsors that gaining PRINCE2 accreditation for the person/s responsible for implementing the funded project will be of value. This will probably involve you answering the following important questions:-
- What is PRINCE2?
- What gives PRINCE2 credibility?
- What are the benefits of PRINCE2 to a Voluntary Organisation?
The answers to these questions are as follows:-
- Please click “What is PRINCE2?” to read one of our previous articles which explains this in a few paragraphs
- What gives PRINCE2 credibility?
– It is a Government approved Project Management method via the sponsorship of the Office of Government and Commerce (OGC).
– European De-Facto Project Management Standard with 70% of all advertised project management vacancies requires PRINCE2 certification as a condition of employment
– 800,000 Examinations taken since inception with 700+ people qualifying each week
– Long history of large and small scale project delivery
- Strong focus on value for money and justifying the project spend
- What are the benefits of PRINCE2 to a Voluntary Organisation seeking funding?
- It is a fully tailorable “painting by numbers” methodology for the delivery of outputs, outcomes and benefits. It’s not “Rocket Science”
- PRINCE2 can dramatically increase your chances of project success. It is important to remember that 70% of all projects fail each year (excluding Engineering and Construction Projects) and if implemented correctly
- PRINCE2 gives you mechanisms for the identification, definition and measurement of targeted benefits
- Gives a framework for the design and set-up of a delivery organisation with clear roles, responsibilities and accountability for everyone involved in the project
- Describes how to develop a Project Plan which relates outputs to outcomes and outcomes to benefits.
- Has an iterative risk and issue management capability which can deliver risk assessment for inclusion in the funding proposal and their further manage throughout the projects lifecycle
- Uses a Quality Management system which offers a trackable and auditable method for ensuring that delivered outputs are “fit for purpose”
- Has iterative Progress Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms
- Scope Management – through the issue management capability PRINCE2 allows scope change to be managed and controlled. Unrestricted scope change is one of the top reasons for budget overruns and project failure
- Will help give your funding proposal integrity and gravitas when underpinned by PRINCE2 accreditation
PRINCE2 is not the only “best practice” accreditation a voluntary organisation or its employees /volunteers should seek in order to stand out in these difficult times, but it is certainly one of the most important if an organisation is serious about attracting Central and Local government funding in these difficult times. Furthermore, it is an accreditation which can be achieved within a week with no costs of ownership from that point onwards i.e membership fees, QA audit fees etc.