Managing long-term development projects is a complex task that requires strong organizational skills. Most projects call for multi-layered work plans and performance evaluation, multi-office interactions, and collaborative planning and information sharing among partners and stakeholders.
Without sound and efficient information management, reporting requirements can become administratively burdensome. TAMIS plays an important role in providing a methodology and structure that greatly facilitate organization, planning, and information sharing in DAI’s long-term projects.
The standard TAMIS model for long-term development projects has three integrated components: work plan management, impact and performance monitoring, project administration.
Work Plan Management At the heart of every long-term development project is the annual or life-of-project work plan. Once the work plan is finalized, it is entered into TAMIS, usually with individual tasks or activities grouped into components and sub-components that define the structure or organization of the project. Associated with work plan tasks are myriad items:
Technical assistance scopes of work and mobilization checklists;
Seminars or training courses;
Terms of reference for studies and training events requiring donor approval;
Meetings and trip reports; and
Comments and follow-up actions.
Work plan management in TAMIS allows the project team and partners to organize this information logically and to track the status of individual tasks and the work that contributes to the successful completion of those tasks. All information is entered into TAMIS only once, but the flexibility of TAMIS allows this information to be used in a variety of ways. For example, the work plan can be viewed by component and subcomponent, by due dates, by the person on the technical assistance team responsible for the task, by intermediate result, by Contract Line Item Number (CLIN), or by other ways that may be useful to the project.
Impact and Performance Monitoring Impact and performance monitoring in TAMIS occurs on three levels: at a strategic level, in which individual tasks contribute toward fulfillment of the project’s goals and objectives; at the workplan task,in which the outputs of individual tasks are monitored, noting progress toward completion of the workplan; and at the contract level, in which individual tasks contribute to fulfillment of contract deliverables and milestones.
As the work plan is developed, each task is carefully related to these levels of performance. First, each task is related to the big picture—that is, the donor’s strategy and objectives for the project to ensure all activities contribute to the project’s goal. Indicators and results are usually defined. As the work plan is entered into TAMIS, the work plan is linked with these results and their specific indicators and targets. Data are usually collected on an annual basis to measure progress toward achieving the project’s goals, but storage of the data in TAMIS means data are available for all participants to view at any time over the life of the project. If the project chooses, the client can view this information on the web, which facilitates the frequent and spontaneous reporting needs of many missions.
In the second level of performance monitoring, measurable outputs for each task are specified and noted in TAMIS. Monitoring progress on task outputs gives project management a good sense of progress toward completion of the work plan. Outputs are usually reported, in the quarterly report, but, again, completion of outputs during a quarter is noted as they occur, thus allowing real-time and continuous monitoring of progress.
The third level of performance monitoring occurs on a contractual level. Tasks that contribute to fulfillment of contract deliverables or milestones are noted in the work plan in TAMIS. Monitoring progress on deliverables and milestones gives project management in the field, and in the home office, information on progress toward fulfilling our legal obligation with the donor.
The Integration of Components of Project Management in TAMIS
Project Administration TAMIS has several modules to assist the project support staff in performing and tracking the administrative tasks. Depending on the needs of the project, administrators use the system for mobilizing and monitoring short- and long-term technical assistance; managing staff and resource scheduling; tracking the level of effort of the team and subcontractors; tracking subcontractor invoices; accessing team directories, project guidelines and policies, and project publications; initiating and tracking procurement and purchase orders; monitoring the status of approvals; monitoring project start-up and close-down activities; and accessing library resources.
Other TAMIS Modules TAMIS also has several optional modules that can be customized to meet the specific needs of a long-term project that has a grants program or one that works with a particular clients. For more information, please refer to the TAMIS fact sheets on grants management and client management.
How TAMIS Integrates Management, Monitoring, and Administration
The power of TAMIS lies in the way it integrates information among the three components: workplan management, impact and performance monitoring, and project administration. For example: a project’s workplan includes a task in which a short-tem consultant will develop a plan to evaluate the overall impact of the project. The output of this task (which is also a contract deliverable to be accomplished in the first six months of the project) will be a report outlining the performance monitoring plan.
Project staff develop a scope of work and upload it to TAMIS. USAID, which accesses TAMIS via the internet, relays its perspective and contributions by adding comments in TAMIS. The Chief of Party finalizes the scope of work and asks the DAI home office for recruitment assistance. The home office project associate uses the scope of work to recruit candidates for the position and puts the candidates’ resumes in TAMIS. The Chief of Party and USAID choose the consultant to do the work. All approvals related to the short-term technical assistance, including technical and salary approval and travel clearance, pull information from the final scope of work and are generated automatically in TAMIS. In addition to being stored electronically in TAMIS, the approval forms are sent electronically to USAID for approval and printed and used for hard-copy documentation. Once the candidate is approved, a checklist is prepared sharing mobilization tasks through TAMIS between the field and home offices.
The consultant arrives, completes the assignment, and prepares a report outlining the project performance monitoring plan, which is shared with USAID and the DAI home office through TAMIS. Once accepted by USAID, the report appears in the publications list for the project. The report also fulfills two obligations (task output and contract deliverable), and a checkmark automatically appears in the output list and the contract deliverable list.