Usefulness 11:45 16 Oct 2023

Mastering project implementation in communities: nine essential steps for turning ideas into reality

Decentralization in Ukraine encourages communities to take more initiative and operate more efficiently. Now, communities can independently identify their most urgent needs and find suitable solutions. However, significant work is involved in turning an idea into a realized project, and mistakes are possible at every step. The "U-LEAD with Europe" training program helps communities prevent these mistakes and improve their effectiveness. Rubryka shares the details.

What is the problem?

During the war, Ukrainian communities face urgent challenges that demand swift action. These communities must adjust to the exceptional circumstances, ensure the safety of their residents, and address ongoing issues. Additionally, they must also establish improved methods of governance and be able to adapt to the ever-evolving situation.

What is the solution?

Modern communities must take a proactive approach to succeed and progress even during times of war. This includes independently devising and executing projects within their own territories. This implies that community members must work together to identify their priorities and find solutions to their issues while also seeking resources and professional assistance to reach their objectives. This method enables communities to have a more significant impact and influence during times of war, fosters their internal growth, and maintains their autonomy during challenging situations.

U-LEAD's "Steps for Specialists: Project Cycle Management-2023" training program, which began in September of this year, teaches participants how to prepare and execute local development projects effectively. According to U-LEAD expert Tetiana Tatarchuk, the program covers various topics and skills.

How does it work?

From idea to implementation

"U-LEAD with Europe" is a collaborative program involving the Ukrainian government, the European Union, and its member countries, including Germany, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Estonia, and Slovenia. This program aims to support Ukrainian communities in dealing with the challenges of war and strengthening their resilience in the medium and long term by providing essential knowledge, guidance, and equipment. Additionally, the organization's efforts assist in advancing the decentralization reform and preparing Ukraine for future membership in the EU. 

"One of the greatest challenges local government bodies face today is the significant increase in additional powers and responsibilities, coupled with limited funding for their execution. New tasks have been assigned, including aiding internally displaced persons, mitigating the damages caused by constant shelling and destruction, and assisting the military. These have been added to the traditional roles of maintaining communal infrastructure and delivering municipal services.

As the challenges continue to grow, there is a greater need to secure extra funding to tackle them. However, local councils often struggle with a lack of personnel readiness to effectively create and carry out development initiatives or to handle emergencies, especially when sourcing additional resources. Even though Ukraine has access to various competitive mechanisms and donor organizations, many funds go unused due to the limited ability of communities to utilize them," Tetiana Tatarchuk, the leader of the "U-LEAD with Europe" Program's Chernivtsi regional branch and the head of the project cycle management team, says.

The solution to these questions was the exclusive training program "Steps for Specialists: Project Cycle Management," created by the organization "U-LEAD with Europe." This program is designed for government officials, representatives of public institutions, and members of community organizations. It allows each participant to enhance their expertise and abilities in project management, learn about the current methods and techniques for crafting project proposals, and examine common mistakes that arise during project preparation and implementation.

In just three months, as part of the program, leaders from 40 Ukrainian communities will have the opportunity to take their project ideas all the way to a complete project proposal with the guidance of experts. They will learn how to identify a problem, set a goal, establish tasks and outcomes, plan out activities, and create a project budget. Additionally, participants will learn to effectively combine the "soft" and "hard" elements of projects and will end by presenting their project ideas to potential donors.

A key aspect of the program involves its emphasis on hands-on learning and tackling real-world issues within communities. Each project team from the community will be given personalized attention. In addition, experts will guide participants toward suitable donor organizations to fund their specific projects.

Nine steps of theory and practice


U-LEAD has outlined nine steps for project team experts to manage the project cycle in communities effectively. Program expert Tetiana Tatarchuk explains the significance of these steps in developing proficiency in project management theory and practice.

Step 1. General approaches to be defined.

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

At this point, trainers assist participants in discerning the main focus of the project approach. Community leaders are taught to differentiate between projects and their current undertakings. Trainers also emphasize the importance of integrating specific projects into the community's overall development strategy. Additionally, funding sources are addressed, as understanding how donor organizations operate is crucial in the initial stages of implementing community projects. This includes understanding the intricacies and approaching the support search correctly.

Step 2. Determining the project's starting point

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

"Here, inexperienced performers often make the mistake of starting to plan the project based on the schedule of events or budget. This approach is incorrect," Tetiana Tatarchuk explains. One of the critical steps to aid communities at this stage of learning is to avoid making mistakes and begin the project optimally and efficiently.

Rather than immediately prioritizing the budget or schedule of activities, it is recommended for communities to take a more thorough approach. This practical step involves honing the skills for analyzing the project's surroundings, identifying the community's needs and opportunities, and defining the project's target audience. This approach has proven to be the most effective in developing successful projects.

Step 3. Developing the logic for the project approach.

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

Starting a project correctly and properly planning its future development is crucial. The project's logic, the connection between its goals, tasks, results, measures, and indicators of progress, is the most critical element in determining the success of any project. The project will most likely fail if even one part of this logical framework is missing. During this stage, community leaders are taught a strategic and structural approach to managing projects, including how to form and manage project teams. Additionally, this stage determines the methods for monitoring and evaluating project performance.

Step 4. How to build a project structure?

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

The community members inevitably have a question: the project's objectives, tasks, and outcomes must be interconnected and aligned with a specific internal logic. But how does one go about structuring them? How can a concrete project structure be derived from analyzing the community's issues, needs, and future environment, which the managers must first assess? This is where the fourth step of the training program comes into play.

"In this step, we will demonstrate how to translate the project environment analysis into a set of objectives, tasks, outcomes, and metrics. We will also develop the ability to design the project architecture using a logical and structured approach," Tetiana Tatarchuk says.

Step 5. What are project resources and budget?

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

Do you recall the standard error made by numerous communities in project planning, where they begin by focusing solely on budget planning? In reality, the management of project resources and the budget comes later, in the fifth and sixth stages of training. It is crucial at this stage to properly allocate resources for each task and develop a comprehensive project budget.

"In this course, we will be examining the ideas of risks and assumptions within the project, exploring different types of risks and available community resources, and delving into the elements of the project budget," Tetiana adds.

Step 6. Establishing resource and communication plans for the project.

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

This phase also involves hands-on training. During this step, the trainers and participants collaborate to determine the details of resource planning. This includes not only financial resources but also communication resources. Project managers in communities are informed about project financing principles and receive assistance in mastering budgeting skills. They are also guided in planning for information and communication support for the project, such as establishing a presence on social media, communicating with community members and donors, and more.

Step 7. How to implement the project and ensure its sustainability?

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

There exists a clear correlation between the development and implementation of a project. When the project components are thoroughly established during the development phase, the need for modifications during implementation is reduced, thus facilitating a smoother implementation process.

"As a result, we are researching the project's fundamental principles of change management, evaluating its closure phase and guaranteeing its long-term success, and thoroughly documenting the project's progress through reports," Tetiana Tatarchuk tells about this stage of working with project managers within communities.

Step 8. Guidelines for preventing mistakes in project implementation.

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

Although every project is unique, and its execution may vary for each community, community leaders often encounter similar challenges during implementation. This training stage addresses common mistakes local government bodies make during project implementation, enabling participants to prevent them. Trainers in the program assist in identifying the underlying causes and consequences of these mistakes and collaborate on strategies to avoid them.

Step 9. Guidelines for presenting project ideas.

Як реалізувати проєкти в громадах: 9 кроків, щоб навчитися втілювати ідеї

"Officials of local self-government bodies often lack these skills, so we get to know the basic principles and approaches to presentation and self-presentation and develop pitching skills," Tetiana explains. Ultimately, the success of implementing a project within a community largely hinges on the presentation abilities of project managers and how well community members receive it.

Even more helpful solutions!

U-LEAD has been offering training programs to Ukrainians since the start of the full-scale war. These programs are based on thorough and regularly updated thematic support packages that provide vital skills for addressing current challenges and rebuilding after the war with Russia. According to the organization, with the ongoing military aggression and limited funds in communities, attracting additional resources on a project basis is crucial, particularly in light of the post-war reconstruction efforts. 

"Project Management Steps" is a response to communities' systemic need to strengthen project management personnel's capacity. As new opportunities arise for Ukraine, proficiency in project management will become crucial in every community, thanks to European resources and international partnership programs. "U-LEAD with Europe" aims to educate community leaders in these skills, empowering them to independently drive their community's growth and progress.

This article was published as part of the "Voice of Communities" campaign, which is part of the Program for Ukraine on local empowerment, accountability and development "U-LEAD with Europe", jointly funded by the EU and its member states Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Slovenia to support Ukraine on its way to strengthening local self-government. U-LEAD promotes transparent, accountable and multi-level governance in Ukraine that responds to the needs of citizens and empowers communities.

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