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Advocacy and governance

Three guidelines for advocacy processes and tools

In this section you will learn:

  • The advocacy process throughout an outsourcing initiative timeline
  • Governance structures for project management and organisation
  • A non-exhaustive range of communication platforms available for outsourcing initiatives

There are three guidelines that assist in advocacy processes. The first guideline is to follow an advocacy process throughout the outsourcing initiative timeline. The second guideline is to understand the governance structures and how these can be used to improve information flow. The third guideline is the utilisation of communication platforms. Each will be discussed in detail here.

Guideline 1: The advocacy process

Advocacy tools are best applied early on and retained throughout to maintain strong partnerships.

This well-articulated and consistent advocacy process has proven successful in a number of outsourcing initiatives.

For instance in Mozambique, VillageReach worked closely with the DPS first in Tete then in Zambézia for sign-off and implementation to strengthen last mile distribution. There were strong and diverse management structures in place. The outcome was that third- and fourth- party logistics outsourced arrangements significantly reduced stock-outs in health centres. As a result, outsourcing benefits were proven for other provinces.

Another example involves Project Last Mile and its route optimisation work in Mozambique. Project Last Mile built a relationship with CMAM using a local coordinator. This resulted in buy-in to vision and objectives. In addition, the provinces or districts guided the team on the ground. This process created time or distance matrix for last mile distribution routes in 10 out of 11 provinces. The costing allows CMAM to make better decisions.

In Zambia, Crown Agents worked to strengthen supply chain management by establishing clear and time-based partnerships with Medical Stores Limited (MSL). The contract included detailed skills transfer to MSL. As a result, the MSL organisation and management from 2008-2013 improved notably in strategy and network hubs which ultimately led to MSL adopting a pro-outsourcing view.

The Africa Resource Centre (ARC) applied this process on a geo-mapping project in Uganda. ARC established a partnership with the ministry of health towards common GIS objectives and defined ways of working and roles of technical partners. The outcome was that more than 7 100 health facilities and 1,100 pharmacies were surveyed and registered in a master registry. In addition, the Ministry of Health were trained with relevant tools to update data.

Guideline 2: Governance structures for project management and organisation

Advocacy is bolstered by the establishment and maintenance of structures for improved governance. A typical organisational structure to guide outsourcing initiatives involves different groups. Groupings are context- and project- dependent. Monitoring and evaluation systems are developed across the governance groupings and information flows (grey arrows in the graphic). Typical groups include:

  • High-level steering committee: Contains representatives from both the public sector and vendors to provide overall guidance and oversight of the outsourcing initiative.
  • Supply chain coordination group: Made up of a broad spectrum of members from various stakeholder groups including public sector, private sector, implementing partners, donors. Receives regular inputs and updates from the technical working group (monthly or quarterly) and makes significant decisions for the day-to-day workings of the project. The set-up of a logistics working group, (see an example), demonstrates an example of a Coordination Group for the Vaccine Supply Chain.
  • Technical working group(s): Comprises technicians and experts to work on specific day-to-day tasks related to the project implementation plan.

Guideline 3: Make use of communication platforms

What are communication platforms?

Communication means the exchange of information between stakeholders in order to improve the quality of working relationships and contribute to greater project efficiencies. Given the number of stakeholders and complexities in outsourcing initiatives, a platform for direct and sound communication between stakeholders is useful. Communication platforms are considered a tool for advocacy in outsourcing initiatives.

Communication platforms are beneficial because they:

  • Increase transparency and coordination between stakeholders in terms of transactions (financial or otherwise), roles and responsibilities, and project progress updates, hurdles, milestones
  • Promote good stakeholder management that engages wide-ranging stakeholders in an appropriate and frequent manner, manages multiple and sometimes conflicting interests and expectations
  • Offer a means to address challenges and consult experts where necessary
  • Aid long-lasting buyer-supplier relationships
  • Improve the flow and management of information for end-to-end visibility of the outsourcing initiative

Non-exhaustive list of available communication tools

Supplier forums

Periodic networking meetings between government supply chain management entities and private suppliers.

Steering committees

High-level governance groups with senior public sector officials, private sector representatives and development partners to provide strategic oversight and guidance on the outsourcing initiative.

Technological communication tools

Project management platforms that utilise technological software to aid project managers organise and keep track of project progress and timelines, day-to-day tasks of outsourced teams, information flows, and communications with team members. There are numerous tools are available.

Local coordinator

A dedicated person with local knowledge tasked to ensure local government and private vendors see eye-to-eye and communicate effectively for the duration of the outsourcing initiative. Their role is especially important at the project’s start when stakeholders are unfamiliar with one another, or when there is a language barrier.

Project status reports

Information reports in various formats (narrative, PowerPoint, checklists, other) that communicate the status of the project to date. They are shared regularly via email with all stakeholders relevant to the outsourcing initiative.