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Since 2008 punto.sud is the official service providing an helpdesk service on behalf of the European Commission for all DG-ECHO partners and staff.

What is the hands-on input?

The hands-on input consists in a particular method for in-depth analysis and assessment of project documents (concept note, application form, reports) to support your Organisation in working properly with specific donors (EuropeAid, DG ECHO, etc.). The hands-on input is not an evaluation (though it may assess an operation in all its aspects) and it is not an audit (since its objective is not to report to the Donor on the correct application of rules and procedures). On the contrary, the hands-on input is a complete analysis of some aspects of a project with the deep involvement of your Organisation’s key staff and with the purpose of screening the strengths, weaknesses and possible improvement of a particular project. A major component of the hands-on input is the screening of project proposals.

How to carry out a hands-on with us

The hands-on is usually carried out on project proposals and/or on aspects of ongoing projects.

Proposals/Reports screening
The helpdesk uses specialised checklists and in-depth analysis to provide feedback on the comprehensiveness and/or weaknesses of the proposals or reports drafted at all stages of a (would be) EuropeAid or other donors financed action.

Project financial control
This exercise focuses on the eligibility of expenses, accuracy of supporting documents (e.g. invoices, receipts, contracts, and tender dossiers), congruence of internal procedures and their application to the project.

The hands-on support takes place in four different phases:

  1. Availability of project documents
    In this phase the punto.sud team makes a pre-identification exercise of critical points in the project logic and/or implementation modalities. Data supplied will be used solely for the purposes for which it was provided. Confidential information will not be disclosed to third parties. We recognise that information exchanged is off the record and we take all reasonable measures to protect it whilst in our care.
  2. In depth analysis of selected documents/management areas
    The main criticalities and weaknesses of a project are highlighted, as well as the main areas in which support is needed by your Organisation. Ad-hoc solutions and recommendations are identified at this stage.
  3. Hands-on meeting (if needed)
    If deemed necessary, a meeting between punto.sud experts and your staff can be organised. During this meeting the findings of the initial screening of the project documents are presented and discussed with your Organisation’s appointed staff. This meeting will usually take place in your country before or after the training. The exact date is indicated in the invitation to the training.
  4. Follow-up
    The punto.sud experts and the appointed staff of your Organisation define the terms of the follow-up phase (e.g. use of helpdesk day-to-day support, provision of specific tools and formats).
  5. Evaluation of the Hands-on Input
    Your Organisation evaluates the impact of the hands-on input, in particular concerning the usefulness of the service and the suggestions received.

The hands-on can be requested in writing to the Helpdesk (

How to benefit from punto.sud tailored helpdesk

The punto.sud helpdesk is intended to provide the requested organizations with a full assistance and case-by-case/tailored-made support aimed to fulfill HQs main obligations, accomplish Desk managerial tasks and facilitates key staff work on the field in the framework of development operations. Among others, the helpdesk support can include:

  • Day-to-day support to respond as quickly as possible to any query (via e-mail, or phone) raised by the staff of the Organisation to find out solutions to any type of contractual problems encountered in the implementation of the projects;
  • Procedural Project Monitoring (usually to be combined with the project monitoring and evaluation) aiming to test, follow up and assess the Organisation capacity to manage a specific donor funded-Action relation to all the procedural aspects, the approach, rules and best practices. It includes setting up/revision of the internal monitoring system, technical and financial templates and other monitoring tools, training of the organisation’s staff on the use of the new tools and follow up in the enforcement of the overall monitoring system;
  • Internal procedure assessment aiming at ensuring a screening and in-deep analysis of the Organisation internal administrative and managerial procedures (e.g. monitoring, procurement, security, and accounting) with the purpose of identifying potential weaknesses and risks and to guarantee a full compliance with the best international standard. This service can include the delivery of training/e-learning sessions to the Organisation’s key staff or the development of ad-hoc web-platform (Intranet) to ensure the correct application of internal procedures.

Know more about punto.sud open helpdesks

To support CSO staff in their day-to-day management, punto.sud has developed different dedicated helpdesks, basically a mail-box open to all users which respond to all queries in a very short time (in general 24-48 hours). Usually the helpdesk is provided to respond to query in the framework of project planning, EU procedures and administrative matters. Particularly relevant, on this regard, is the helpdesk delivered to DG ECHO partners, which has been active since 2006 and from 2008 is operated on behalf of the European Commission ( Another important helpdesk is provided by punto.sud, since January 2009 on DG EuropeAid contractual obligation issues (
The helpdesk, in general , works through a database made of FAQs and Answers with a panel of experts which is consulted any time a new query is submitted.
It is worth mentioning that The Helpdesk service beside its capacity to support CSOs staff ensures also a constant “antenna” which facilitates the comprehension of key issues, criticalities and main constraints faced by operators in their daily management. This activity, consequently, allow for the constant maintenance, updating and further development of other activities such as website, trainings and preparation of events and ad-hoc toolkits and e-tools.


For more information on the hands-on service, please contact Mrs Simona Pogliani (Chief of the Training Department)

DG-ECHO Helpdesk

To contact the DG-ECHO helpdesk, please send an email to:

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