U.S. Agency for International Development
USAID’s overarching development objective is to deliver clear and compelling results, creating conditions under which aid is no longer necessary. The prerequisite for delivering such results is managing information with agility and efficiency, from generating it in the field to applying it back to strategy and design through the process of learning and adapting – thus enabling an “evidence-based approach” in delivering quality assistance. To this effect, the Agency has taken a major step toward a common information system by standardizing mission business processes for data intensive functions, like budgeting, judging program performance, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
Why This Matters To You
To help manage operations efficiently, Agency field officers expressed a need for standardized IT tools. Ability to manage processes and information efficiently would free up time to engage in the higher level tasks officers are asked to perform: project design, host country negotiations, strategy implementation, etc. To be clear, they were actually looking for a helping hand to implement deep reforms to basic business processes – setting a stage for a management information system to help mission operations.
To design great IT tools that fit mission needs, the best place to start is with actual day-to-day business processes. Thus, when processes are standardized, the door is opened for Agency-wide IT systems that support them to do their jobs. Business processes and IT systems are inextricably tied together; it is the process that keeps the data current in the system and the resulting reports that help accomplish the goal of the process. The hand-in-glove relationship between processes and systems is why it is so important to get the processes right from the start.
How We Helped
Phase One helped the Agency conduct an assessment of ‘as-is’ core mission processes called “Mission Orders”. The project inventoried existing Mission Orders, and helped develop standard versions incorporating best practices in the higher level tasks of strategy and project design.
Next, Phase One helped identify and analyze existing mission information systems – highlighting gaps in capabilities not supported by current IT systems and redundancies in those supported by multiple systems.
By standardizing business processes and analyzing existing IT systems, Phase One helped the Agency achieve an important goal of identifying and documenting high level business require- ments for the future mission-focused system. The project also determined innovations and best practices worth leveraging in the future system.
Underlying this initiative, Phase One helped the Agency accelerate the adoption of Agency reforms in field missions, by operationalizing Agency policies through standardized processes and creating enterprise systems to facilitate adoption.