An Exploratory Study of Project Selection in Donor Funded Development Programme (Management Project Topics)

International Development Programmes (IDPs) are United Nations‘ (UN) and developed countries‘ initiatives to develop world‘s least developed countries. IDPs significantly vary from other mainstream project management topics, as most often they do not have eye for commercial success or are not of simple charity nature of humanitarian perspective aid.

Projects under IDPstry to deliver United Nations‘ and rich countries commitment to provide sustainable development to developing world in terms of reducing poverty and hunger, improving health and education system, building capacity to face disasters, eliminating gender discrimination, among others.

This significant difference and lack of research in this field has left a gap in established project management methodologies that could be generalised as specifically suitable for IDPs.The knowledge of project selection methodologies has reached to its extreme variety, as it spreads from the simplest model of a checklist to the highest degree mathematical model.

Leading researchers in the field have come to conclusion that project selection methods have to match the needs of a specific programme or portfolio to serve its purpose. The uniqueness of IDPs intensified the necessity of choosing projects by understanding the financial and strategic benefit they can deliver matching their resource requirement.

In absence of straight direction in the research and real life case observations, the practice in project selection in IDPs has not still been an established procedure.To explore this need the authors of this report examined the theoretical framework of project selection and their compliance with IDPs unique characteristics. Project selection methods showed that due to organisations’ varied need of delivering financial or strategic objectives, the selection models significantly vary.

The use of different financial or strategic criteria with different emphasis on them is highlighted in project selection articles. Further analysis was focused on project selection stages and possible challenges evolving in the selection process.The researchers tried to explore project selection methods used in IDPs in Bangladesh by analyzing four different cases.

The examination of the project selection process showed that it mainly follows the multi-stage assessment procedure, with project evaluation conducted by the assessment panel, comprised from the functional experts and in some cases stakeholders’ representatives.

Further, from the findings it was evident that the primary theoretical suggestions for IDPs project selection methods being strategy driven rather than being commercial in nature is true. In all four cases, the researchers have seen the selectors using scoring and ranking model that are specifically designed with higher emphasis on the strategic factors, and that try to deliver development objective rather than contributing to commercial success.

In addition, the challenges in IDP project selection practice are also discussed. Challenges like delivering development needs while trying to make the project sustainable in the long run, managing the powerful influence of different stakeholders in selecting projects, avoiding country politics, among others are making the project selection more difficult.

The main contribution of this research has been establishing a primary selection framework from case evidence with suggestions on appropriate model, set of criteria which can be used and a set of challenges to be aware of. The study is presented as a basis for further research in this field.

Source: Umeå University

Authors: Bakanova, Irina | Hassan, Dewan Jahidul