Project Cycle Management

The Project Cycle Management (PCM) is the method employed by international organisations, UN agencies and non-profit organizations to carry out and manage development projects and programmes. PCM provides with a consistent approach to all components of the intervention cycle, ensuring benefici­ary-orientation, a comprehensive per­spective on interventions (feasibility and sustainability) and effec­tive monitoring and evaluation. It articulates the different phases of a project and, being a cyclical course, it allows to constantly verify, monitor and eventually reassess the project logic.

The PCM has 6 phases:

  • Programming: during this phase the main objectives and sector priorities for intervention are identified, and indicative programming and strategy documents drafted. The problem analysis with verification of ideas takes also place at this stage of the project cycle.
  • Identification: during this phase a pre-feasibility study is carried out and a preliminary project proposal is drafted and the consistency and relevance of the action proposed is assessed against the policy and strategy frameworks programmed.
  • Formulation: in light of the results of the feasibility study to be carried out at this stage, the project proposal is finalised and equipped with a sound activity and financial plan.
  • Financing: during this phase the applicant signs the contract and receives the financial resources to start up the project activities.
  • Implementation: during this phase the project activities are implemented, the results obtained and the project purpose achieved. Process monitoring and evaluation are planned and executed throughout the project life and/or during specific phases.
  • Evaluation/audit: in this final phase the end-of-project evaluation takes place in order to assess the efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability and relevance of a project in the context of stated objectives. It is usually undertaken as an independent examination with a view to drawing lessons that may guide future decision-making.

According to the EC, a project is a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly specified objectives within a defined time period and with a defined budget. It should have:

  • Clearly identified stakeholders, including the primary target group and the final beneficiaries.
  • Clearly defined coordination, management and financing arrangements.
  • A monitoring and evaluation system to support performance management.
  • An appropriate level of financial and economic analysis, which indicates that the project’s benefits will exceed its costs.

Evaluation of past EC-funded projects teaches us that the situation analysis is not always done properly. The main weaknesses as regards to this problem are:

  • The real problems of beneficiaries and other parties involved are not addressed.
  • The project objectives have not been clearly and realistically defined
  • No distinction is made between project objectives (eg. the actual availability if potable water) on one hand, and the means to arrive at those objectives (eg. digging wells) on the other hand
  • The technologies applied are not appropriate and no use is made of locally renewable resources
  • The socio-cultural values of the people on wishes to assist are not respected
  • No effort is made to strengthen the management capacities of the local public and private organisations that are involved in the interventions
  • Risks are not anticipated and ways to avoid or limit them are not explored

Sources and useful links

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