Save the Children International’s Global Monitoring System dimarkpm September 7, 2022

Save the Children International’s Global Monitoring System

Portfolio Monitoring for Global Impact

Since May 2018, Save the Children International (SCI) has been working with Synergy International Systems, Inc. (Synergy) to develop and deploy a global, enterprise-level program portfolio monitoring system. It is known as the Programme Reporting, Information Management and Evidence (PRIME) System.

Save the Children is one of the world’s largest independent organizations for children, with a combined annual turnover of more than US $2 billion. Since 2015, SCI has reached more than 60 million children annually through its services. The Save the Children Association (SCA) comprises 30 independent national member organizations with 25,000 staff across 122 countries. With so much at stake, the adoption of a centralized portfolio management system is a key transformational step in achieving SCI’s core objectives.

Background

SCI emerged after a series of reforms culminated in the 2009 adoption of a single global strategy for 2010-15. This provided a framework for transitioning a loose federation of national organizations into “one Save the Children.” Prior to the procurement of PRIME, SCI conducted a current- and future-state analysis that identified

  1. inconsistent approaches to project management and
  2.  variable standards of data collection practices.

It also revealed a tension between standardization and remaining adaptive and flexible based on local conditions and needs. To address this tension, SCI launched a project known as the Programme Management Methodology (PMM) and Project Reporting Information Management and Evidence (PRIME).

The PMM component provides a standard methodology and procedures for the full project lifecycle while PRIME delivers the toolset that enables this methodology by facilitating project management, data collection, and reporting.

“SCI selected Synergy because of our extensive track record in providing tailored services and solutions to governments and nonprofits at the intersection of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and information technology.”

SCI selected Synergy as its strategic IT partner to develop the PRIME system following a rigorous twelve-month competitive award process. In May 2018, SCI and Synergy signed a five-year contract for customization, implementation, and support services. SCI selected Synergy because of our extensive track record in providing tailored services and solutions to governments and nonprofits at the intersection of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and information technology. Another pivotal factor behind SCI’s decision was our deep commitment to making Synergy Indicata an intentionally enterprise-level system, with the needs of users taking centre stage as well as those of different departments across regional and global leadership.

Objective

Because of both the uniqueness of SCI’s membership structure and the organization’s size and global reach, PRIME represents a unique example of a sophisticated enterprise portfolio management and results monitoring system supporting the mission of a complex global NGO.

At its core, PRIME’s purpose is to enable SCI to operate as a data-driven organization, supporting strategic planning, stakeholder accountability, organizational learning, and continuous improvement. It does so by consolidating the flow of results and programmatic data across all participating country offices at all stages of the project lifecycle (design, approval, setup, implementation, and closure) and by making that data accessible and usable by different departments in country offices and across regional and global leadership.

Project Details
This module covers general information about the project record (start/end date, funding and donor details, program offices linked to the project, etc.).
Logframe
This tool supports the design of project-specific logframes, including impact, outcome, output, and activity levels, as well as the definition of indicators.
Detailed Implementation Plan
The DIP supports the management of activities, tasks, and milestones through a project Gantt chart interface.
Human Resources Management
The module manages project personnel, including key role assignments, responsibilities, start/end dates, and level of effort estimations.
People and Groups
People and groups can be registered as any individual, household, association, or community that is receiving services to ensure effective and auditable distribution of services.
MEAL Plan
Each project has a MEAL approach defined in PRIME, enabling narratives or documents to be uploaded pertaining to data quality assurance, project quality monitoring, evaluation and research, etc.
Action Management
This tool supports projects in the management of actions outside of the activities and tasks as defined in the DIP.
Partner Management
The partner management module supports the tracking of implementation partners and vendors.
Strategic Goals
This tool links the project to specific goals established in each implementing office’s strategic plan.

PRIME also includes integrations with Oracle HR, SCI’s Award Management System (AMS), and a financial management system (Agresso) for facilitating the flow of information across the organization.

SCI PRIME Development Journey

The project began with a three-month proof of concept, which successfully tested the collaborative implementation approach between the SCI Subject Matter Experts and Synergy’s team. The system was developed using an iterative, agile approach, with active engagement from country offices and key stakeholder groups. Through daily standups, the team came together to conduct the needs assessment activities, conducting in-person and remote workshops.

The workshops helped Synergy learn more about SCI’s daily activities and work through complex challenges, such as business processes, business rules, standardizing the structure of results frameworks, or the detailed workflows and calculations behind SCI’s critical Total Reach Indicator, through which SCI reports the direct reach of its programs.

“PRIME’s purpose is to enable SCI to operate as a data-driven organization, supporting strategic planning, stakeholder accountability, organizational learning, and continuous improvement.”

The SCI team developed and refined user stories while the Synergy team executed five-week development sprints, including two weeks for sprint preparation, two weeks of development, and one week of testing. Because collaboration practices had been well established before the pandemic crisis hit in-person gatherings in early 2020, SCI and Synergy were able to keep the project on track while working fully remotely for the entire final year of development.

At the outset of the project, SCI set up a successful project governance process that established the executive focal points, governance meetings, and processes for change control and dispute resolution. Throughout the project implementation, stakeholders participated in biweekly service review meetings, monthly project review meetings, and quarterly executive review meetings. These continue throughout the technical support period.

Achievements

PRIME first went live in Q3 2021 and is now operational in Denmark, the Netherlands, India, Sweden, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, the East and Southern Africa Regional Office and the West and Central Africa regional office.

“With PRIME, SCI is setting a new benchmark for how large, global NGOs can successfully achieve greater impact through a successfully executed results-based program portfolio management system.”

The system is being deployed on a rolling basis across SCI’s entire global portfolio, achieving consolidated and streamlined reporting of project-level performance and results for the first time in SCI’s history, while maintaining a decentralized management approach in keeping with Save the Children’s federated structure. SCI and Synergy continue to collaborate closely on improvements and new functionality as part of a four-year Technical Support Agreement.

About the Project

Country:

Iraq

Sector:

Public Finance, Development Effectiveness

Solution:

Iraq Development Management System (IDMS) for the Ministry of Planning

The Iraq Development Management System (IDMS) is the Iraqi government’s web-based system for managing the entire cycle of government- and donor-funded development projects.

The government, led by the Ministry of Planning, will use IDMS to manage its $25 billion public investment budget for the coming year. The system is available in Arabic and English, and it is also publicly accessible. IDMS was developed in partnership with UNDP, USAID, the EU, and UNOPS.