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A European Community of Practice on

Sound planning and management

Setting up communication and learning platforms to mainstream the

lessons learnt by EQUAL

Italy / French-speaking Belgium / Poland

Project Cycle Management and good governance

in the 2007-2013 European Social Fund
The present work illustrates the benefits and positive impacts obtained by a
core group of Member States which have been promoting PCM-based initiatives
and services in the context of the EQUAL Initiative and that are being taken
forward in a more systematic way in the current ESF Programming Period.

Indrija Askeloviciene – par.5.4
Valentina Benni – introduction, chapter 1, par. 4.4, 5.1, bibliography
Jenny Charlier - par. 4.3, 5.2
Bartosz Grucza - par. 4.5, 5.5
Concetto Maugeri – par. 5.3
Serenella Paci – par. 4.2
Monica Puel – chapter 2, 3, par. 4.1, chapter 6

Coordination: Antonella Attanasio e Monica Puel

Editing: Maria Di Saverio

1.1 The challenges in the 2007-2013 European Social Fund
1.2 How PCM contributes to good governance 9
2.1 Why Project Cycle Management
2.2 What is Project Cycle Management 13
4.1 Backgound
4.2 PCM in Sardinia Region, Italy: a powerful planning tool to 22
promote local development
4.3 The Equal experience with PCM in French and German- 26
speaking Belgium
4.4 The Piedmont Region experience 28
4.5 The use of PCM in Poland under the EQUAL Initiative 33
5.1 The PCM consolidation phase
5.2 PCM in the 2007-2013 ESF Programming Period in French 39
and German-speaking Belgium
5.3 Using the PCM methodology in the Piedmont Region 40
5.4 PCM implementation in Lithuania 43
5.5 Using PCM methodology in the 2007-2013 ESF 45
Programming Period in Poland
6.1 Main effects and advantages of using PCM in ESF
6.2 The conditions required for effective use of the method 48
Bibliography 50


Collaborating in order to share experiences behind one’s own Country’s borders represents a concrete way
to develop innovative ideas, original approaches and new skills. Transnational cooperation under European
Social Fund – concerning institutions, projects, organizations, people – helps those involved in to really
understand what works correctly and what does not, and why; it introduces a “third look”, more objective; it
represents, for member States, a practice of good governance and an effective use of resources.

In the recent past, Equal has represented the principal vehicle through which the Social Fund has
encouraged transnationality and innovative actions; it has operated like a testing laboratory for new ideas
and new methods supporting the European Employment Strategy and the Social Inclusion Process.

European Commission, especially in the second phase of the Programme, has promoted thematic platforms
as methodology of mainstreaming, either vertical – that is an attempt of integration of projects results in the
ordinary policies – or horizontal, for transferring experiences in the practices of organizations operating in
member States. Thematic platforms have operated to “open” the Equal world to other realities and to verify
the goodness of proposed initiatives in order to support their sustainability even outside Equal.

Consequently, since 2005 it has been designed a complex architecture that has seen the active participation
of many States which, everyone in its own field of interest, have got involved in the platforms for:
• validating achieved results;
• activating networks for the comparison and the exchange and involving new subjects;
• individuating successful practices, in the double perspective of policies transfer and innovation.

The programming period 2007-2013, thus, puts the transnationality among its priorities also thanks to Equal
experience and successes, outlining four main and possible ways of cooperation:
• between projects, in several member States;
• between national networks concerning thematic of specific interest;
• between territorial organizations and partnerships;
• between Social Fund Management Authorities, at national and regional level.

A wide range of actors, thus, not only public ones, expecting concrete benefits from the implementation of
these actions.

The support to innovation through the sharing of researches, as well as practice experiences, might
significantly reduce the risks which arise from the indiscriminate use of innovative approaches in actions that
will be realized to support employment.

Encouraging greater and better job opportunities, increasing a solid base for comparison and benchmarking,
starting by done experiences, represents an aid for all.

Building a wide frame, shared and usable, in which report the experiences and information about working
and not working things, it contributes to improve the European dimension of employment policies.

Finally, strengthening the capacity of organizations in a wider perspective, allows to reduce the effects of risk
and error in the development of activities and to better spend, and in a more profitable way, the Social Fund’s


1.1 The challenges in the 2007-2013 European Social Fund

In the 2007-2013 Programming Period of the Structural Funds a great deal of attention is devoted to the
concept of "good governance". Governance is referred to as “the process of decision-making and the
process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented”)” (United Nations definition). The EC
White Paper on Governance1 defines is as “rules, processes and behaviour that affect the way in which
powers are exercised”. This concept also finds its place in the ESF Regulation 2 where it is linked to
institutional capacity building and the promotion of partnership (adequate participation of social partners and
non governmental organisations).

The ESF Regulation provides specific requirements: “Efficient and effective implementation of actions
supported by the ESF depends on good governance and partnership between all relevant territorial and
socioeconomic actors”. In addition, “Within … Convergence objective …: the following have to be in place:
• Mechanisms to improve good policy and programmes design, monitoring and evaluation…
• Capacity building in the delivery of policies and programmes”.

The focus on a strategic approach to programming is the key change compared with the previous
Programming Period. Member States were asked to set out national objectives, in line with the Community
Strategic Guidelines (CSG), in the National Strategic Reference Frameworks (NSRFs), along with a strategy
to achieve these objectives. The NSRFs also had to ensure that the assistance from the funds was
consistent with the National Reform Programme (NRP). The NSRFs therefore were expected to present a
consistent strategy for the concerned Member State to respond to the EU objectives.

The next step was to further operationalise the strategy set out in the NSRF through the Operational
Programmes (OP). Thus, the strategy of the OP should be seen as an integral part of the whole strategic
approach (CSG – NRP – NSRF – OP)3.

European Commission, European Governance A White Paper, Brussels, 25.7.2001 COM(2001) 428 final.
Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 of The European Parliament and of The Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Social Fund and
repealing Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999, n. 1081/2006, 31.7.2006, L 210/12 Official Journal of the European Union.
European Communities, Sourcebook on sound planning of ESF programmes, p. 8, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the
European Communities, 2007, ISBN 92-79-03258-5

Figure 1

Overview of the 2007-2013 Structural Funds policy context Figure 1

The new strategic approach





priorities priorities

In brief, it is crucial for the strategic approach to ensure coherence and logic of the objectives and indicators:
• between strategic documents;
• between programmes;
• within one programme.

The OPs objectives must clearly contribute to the objectives established at national level, which in turn
respond to the objectives established at EU level. Moreover, the clear link between the needs, objectives
and results must be ensured. Figure 1 provides an overview of the new context for the Structural Funds that
has been described above.

In addition, the ESF Regulation places great emphasis on sound programme planning that can be
represented as a “temple”4. Its foundations and pillars are described below.

Marie C. Donnelly, European Commission, Head of Unit ESF Policy Co-ordination, Employment, Local Development, presentation
“Strategic Planning and Programming of ESF”, Conference “Exchanging Experiences on Sound Programme Planning”, Vilnius 17/18
November 2005.

Monitoring and evaluation
Stakeholder engagement
Strategic orientation and
Pillars of sound programme planning

Delivery planning

Good governance

Learning from experience: innovation

Learning from others: transnational/regional cooperation
Crossing institutional boundaries: partnership
Ensuring capability for implementation: capacity building

Strategic orientation and coherence

The ESF Regulation “requires a more strategic approach by first linking objectives to identified needs, and
then desired results to the most suitable, feasible and acceptable options for action, based on sound ex ante

Stakeholder engagement
The second condition for success is to ensure a wide partnership in support of reforms and shared
ownership of the objectives of the European strategy for growth and jobs. This is important in order to
achieve political, technical and preliminary financial commitment of all stakeholders in an early stage of the
programming process. The ESF Regulation highlights partnership as one of the fundamental elements of
good governance. Under the Convergence Objective, the ESF supports the capacity building of social
partners organizations, for they have a key role to play in the definition and delivery of reforms.

Delivery planning
In order to ensure effective implementation, it is important to build on existing structures and systems while,
at the same time, avoiding to overcomplicate structures. An effective implementation also rest upon been
aware of the dynamics of a given programme: i.e. setting milestones, anticipating the timing of spending
flows, etc. In addition, Managing Authorities (MAs) are expected to ensure enough high quality projects: i.e.
keeping a reserve. Finally, it is crucial a prompt response when things go wrong, i.e, by offering help desk
services and monitoring on site.

Monitoring and evaluation

Closely related to a sound delivery planning are effective on-going M&E. It is important to consider ex-ante
evaluation as a compass and on-going evaluation as a learning tool. Therefore evaluation should be intrinsic
to any given programme and not merely bolted on.

Speech by Lenia Samuel, Deputy Director general. European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal opportunities,
Vilnius, 15.11.05.

Finally, the “temple” of sound planning rests upon the following foundations:

• the promotion of innovation and Transnational/interregional co-operation which gives important

opportunities to go beyond traditional actions and to reinforce all ESF programmes;
• strong focus on the adequate involvement of all partners in preparation, implementation and
monitoring of the ESF support;
• the focus on institutional capacity, which constitutes a priority for ESF interventions in the 2007-2013
Programming Period; this priority supports Convergence regions in their efforts to reform and
modernise their administrations. The new priority focuses on supporting reforms or comprehensive
modernisation of the administration and not on ad hoc actions. Under this priority, support is
provided to the development and design of policies and programmes, as well as to their delivery and

Addressing these issues is essential for ensuring good governance of ESF programmes.

Five principles underpin good governance, namely: openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and
coherence. Each principle is important by itself. But they cannot be achieved through separate actions 6. Thus
these principles are mutually dependent and reinforcing.

Openness. The Institutions should work in a more open manner. Together with the Member States, they
should actively communicate about what the EU does and the decisions it takes. They should use language
that is accessible and understandable for the general public. This is of particular importance in order to
improve the confidence in complex institutions.

Participation. The quality, relevance and effectiveness of EU policies depend on ensuring wide participation
throughout the policy chain – from conception to implementation. Improved participation is likely create more
confidence in the end result and in the Institutions which deliver policies. Participation crucially depends on
central governments following an inclusive approach when developing and implementing EU policies.

Accountability. Roles in the legislative and executive processes need to be clearer. Each of the EU
Institutions must explain and take responsibility for what it does in Europe. But there is also a need for
greater clarity and responsibility from Member States and all those involved in developing and implementing
EU policy at whatever level.

Effectiveness. Policies must be effective and timely, delivering what is needed on the basis of clear
objectives, an evaluation of future impact and, where available, of past experience. Effectiveness also
depends on implementing EU policies in a proportionate manner and on taking decisions at the most
appropriate level.

Coherence. Policies and action must be coherent and easily understood. The need for coherence in the
Union is increasing: the range of tasks has grown; enlargement will increase diversity; challenges such as
climate and demographic change cross the boundaries of the sectoral policies on which the Union has been
built; regional and local authorities are increasingly involved in EU policies.
Coherence requires political leadership and a strong responsibility on the part of the Institutions to ensure a
consistent approach within a complex system.

The EC White Paper on Governance (European Governance A White Paper, Brussels, 25.7.2001 COM(2001) 428 final), p. 10.

Good governance: some principles


Participation Consensus oriented


(orientation towards sustainable and
efficient results)

Fair legal frameworks that are enforced



EC White paper on Governance UN definition

Source. Europees Sociaal Fonds Agentschap Vlaanderen VZW, Benedict Wauters presentation, Open
Days Workshop, Brussels, 11.10.07.

1.2 How PCM contributes to good governance

Project/Programme Cycle Management (PCM) is the method introduced by the European Commission for
the identification, formulation (appraisal), implementation and evaluation of projects and programmes. It
provides a consistent approach to all components of the intervention cycle, ensuring beneficiary-orientation
(relevance), a comprehensive perspective on interventions (feasibility and sustainability) and effective
monitoring and evaluation. Because this approach has been proven to significantly improve the feasibility of
plans and sustainability of the interventions, it is now being implemented as the standard method for bilateral
donors and NGOs throughout Europe and among national governments in many recipient countries.

This method has been successfully used by some of the main international development agencies for over
20 years. Since 1992, DG I and DG VIII (now EuropeAid) of the European Commission have used this
method for all external aid programmes. The World Bank, some UN agencies and a host of bilateral
agencies, such as DFID of the UK, USAID of USA, etc. have been using and developing this method since
the early 1980s. It is now the common language of international development7.

More importantly PCM is a robust planning methodology which can contributes to implement the good
governance principles, in a number of specific ways, as follows8.

EQUAL Partnership Development Toolkit, A partnership oriented planning, monitoring and evaluation guide for facilitators of EQUAL
Development and Transnational Partnerships, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2005 ISBN
92-79-00177-9, European Communities, 2005, p. 6.
Europees Sociaal Fonds Agentschap Vlaanderen VZW, Benedict Wauters' presentation, Open Days Workshop “Sound planning,
management and self-assessment of innovative and transnational projects: project cycle management at work - 10E29”, Brussels,

PCM supports the principle of participation in two ways:
• The method requests explicitly that project applicants identify stakeholders and explain why and how
they are (not) involved in planning, implementation and evaluation;
• It provides standard tools to all applicants (i.e. structured participative workshops, Logical
Framework matrix, etc.).

The method reinforces the principle of accountability as:

• In both the calls for proposal and projects indicators must be formulated with clear targets and
evaluation activities undertaken;
• It facilitates monitoring (variance tracking of milestones and indicators).

PCM contributes to the principle of effectiveness as:

• both the calls for proposal and projects focus on the target group and identify what is delivered to
them and what benefit they will obtain;
• the sustainability criterion concerns both anti-discrimination, gender and financial autonomy.

The method supports the principle of openness as the appraisal criteria for project proposals are public and
identical for all calls for proposals.

PCM contributes to the principle of coherence as:

• OP-call-projects have linked objectives and indicators
• No questions are asked to applicants that are not strictly linked to appraisal; therefore no question is

Finally the method reinforces a fair framework enforced impartially as common appraisal criteria are used by
different readers in the same way.

These considerations anticipate some of the tangible advantages which ESF programme managers and
Managing Authorities can accrue by adopting the PCM methodology both at project and programme level.

Thus the present work illustrates the benefits and positive impacts obtained by a core group of Member
States which have been promoting PCM-based initiatives and services in the context of the EQUAL Initiative
and that are being taken forward in a more systematic way in the current ESF Programming Period.

• Chapter 4 provides an overview of the results of the experimental phase and reviews three
successful national experiences carried out under the EQUAL Community Initiative (2001-2006),
• Chapter 5 illustrates the reinforced PCM approach being adopted by French-speaking Belgium,
Flemish Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Poland in the (2007-2013) European Social Fund
• Chapter 6 presents the conclusions by reviewing the pros of using PCM and the necessary
conditions that have to be in place in order to be effective. Barriers in applying PCM are identified
and ways to overcome them offered.


2.1 Why Project Cycle Management

The vast majority of the latest programmes financed by the European Commission and those promoted
within single Member States are increasingly being implemented via integrated and partnership projects.
They are composed of actions of a diverse nature planned and promoted by groups of actors operating in
different fields. This partnership working method not only is required by a variety of programmes (for
example the LIFE Programme, and Urban, Equal and Leader Initiatives), but more importantly constitutes a
key principle of the 2007-2013 Structural Funds Programming Period.

In order to effectively manage the growing number of integrated and partnership projects, project managers,
evaluators and contractors require new concepts and tools. PCM is a set of concepts and tools specifically
designed to make integrated and partnership projects and programmes more efficient, easier to implement
and more transparent. A number of international agencies have adopted PCM as a standard planning and
management tool. Almost all UN agencies (such as FAO and UNDP) have used PCM since the 1960’s. In
addition, since 1993, numerous General Directorates of the European Commission, such as the one
responsible for development aid, have adopted it as a planning standard.

A Quality Assurance method

One of the reasons international organisations find the PCM approach helpful is because it pays special
attention to quality assurance, namely to the criteria of project relevance, internal coherence and
sustainability during planning. In fact, the quality of a project is mainly determined by decisions made at that
time: once a project commences, the margins for adjustments become tighter. The core principles on which
PCM is based is that, in order to produce a real improvement in the project beneficiaries’ conditions, their
problems must be identified from the beginning.

At present, most projects seem to be planned and drafted by consulting firms bidding for tenders without
directly involving the final beneficiaries. On the contrary, PCM requires that projects proposals be based on
the true problems of the beneficiaries. This is achieved by actively involving beneficiaries and stakeholders
in planning and evaluation of projects and programmes. PCM provides tools (for example GOPP Goal
Oriented Project Planning workshop) which ensure participative management throughout the life of

The concept of project planning based on the true problems of beneficiaries is defined as relevance of a
project proposal. Relevance can be defined as “the appropriateness of project objectives to the real
problems, needs and priorities of the intended target groups and beneficiaries that the project is supposed to
address, and to the physical and policy environment within which it operates”9. This means that the staff and
organisations involved in the implementation of a given project must participate in the decision-making

An additional criterion which can ensure quality planning is internal coherence, which means ensuring solid
logical links between the different elements of a project/programme (activities, results, objectives). In other
words, before commencing, planned activities must be checked to verify if they can achieve the expected
results and that the results are aligned with the established objectives. This kind of structured planning is
possible by using the Logical Framework, a planning matrix which organises the fundamental elements of a
project/programme in a simple and understandable manner. The Logical Framework is one of several key
PCM tools.

European Commission, EuropeAid Co-operation Office, Aid Delivery Methods, Volume 1, Project Cycle Management Guidelines,
March 2004, p. 144.

Logical framework matrix

Intervention Objectively Verifiable Sources of Verification Assumptions

logic Indicators
Activities Means/Costs

According to PCM, the third criterion to be considered during planning is sustainability, which ensures that
the benefits produced for beneficiaries continue after the project conclusion. Potential sustainability of a
project proposal can be assessed against the following aspects: policy support for the project, the use of
appropriate technology, environmental protection, consideration of social, cultural and gender differences,
management capacity, economic viability.

To recapitulate, PCM as a sound planning and quality assurance method, helps to ensure that:

• projects are supportive of overarching policy objectives of the EC;

• projects are relevant to an agreed strategy and to the real problems of target groups/beneficiaries;
• projects are feasible, meaning that objectives can be realistically achieved within the constraints of
the operating environment and capabilities of the implementing agencies; and
• benefits generated by projects are likely to be sustainable10.

A common language
Nowadays, projects and programmes bring together a variety of actors with different technical backgrounds
who use their own management terms with different meanings. This is making it harder to work with diverse
stakeholders: from consultants (who tend to fill in application forms with jargon), to contractors (who find it
difficult to evaluate the real quality of project proposals). PCM is becoming a popular terminological standard
in the international community.

PCM makes the criteria applied in the different phases of the cycle, especially those applied in the
assessment process, clearer, transparent and shared by the different actors involved. In addition, the
LogFrame matrix uses a specific terminology which is internationally recognized.

Benefits of a shared language seem even clearer when considering the variety of stakeholders involved in
the ESF Programming Period. Firstly, at programme level, the adoption of a common language and tools will
aid the programme management and the collaboration amongst the different actors involved. Secondly,
using a common language can assist the cooperation between Member States and the European
Commission, for example in identifying good practices. Finally, sharing a language and using common tools
can help the Managing Authorities, Technical assistance and independent evaluators in their daily operations
such as evaluating project proposals, creating thematic networks, identifying and transferring good practices.

Facilitated Monitoring and Evaluation

The use of structured planning tools, such as the Logical Framework Matrix, can facilitate project and
programme monitoring and evaluation. This is because the LogFrame requires the identification of
Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs) as early as the planning phase. Having planned all activities in detail
makes easier to check progress of all activities, during monitoring. In this way the project/programme cycle
manager has a more objective tool to identify possible partners' defaults, for example delays, and take
corrective actions.

During the on-going and mid-term evaluation, a structured plan allows to verify the performance of current
activities, evaluate the ongoing feasibility of the expected results and determine if modifications are

European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, “Tools for Sound Planning”, 2005.

necessary. The final and ex-post evaluation also require the identification of OVIs which contribute to making
the evaluation processes more transparent and clear.

Referring to innovation in the ESF programmes, the use of OVIs can be particularly useful to clearly identify
the innovative project aspects. Experimental solutions should demonstrate that what is achieved is really
innovative and that new solutions are better than the existing ones. The data collected also make it possible
to learn from any ''failures'', by understanding what didn't work and why. In this way, project/programme
cycle managers are assisted in transferring successful experiences not only within a single
project/programme, but also to other initiatives.

To conclude, PCM offers practical tools which help monitoring and (self-)evaluation of the concrete
achievements; at the same time, it supports a process of continuous reflection on project quality which allows
for corrective action - avoiding surprises during implementation.

2.2 What is Project Cycle Management

As mentioned before, Project Cycle Management is a well-established and proven method for assuring the
quality for identification, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of interventions. PCM
consists of a set of tools designed for organisations managing programmes, so called “Portfolio
Management”. Programme cycle managers may use the appropriate PCM tools according to the projects
phase, with the help of experts, if deemed necessary. Not all programmes follow a structured project cycle,
thus the official documentation can vary from programme to programme. The present work illustrates the
PCM's main steps ('the tools') and key documents for programme and project cycle managers.

Every project within a programme or policy follow a life cycle with the following phases11, as illustrated in the
figure below.

Bussi Federico, Progettare in partenariato, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2001, p. 23-24.

The Project Cycle Management




Ex-post Identification
Terms of

Final Evaluation
workshop Formulation


Executive Ex-ante
Reports Start-up
project evalutatio

During the programming phase the Managing Authority draws up the guidelines of a programme and may
publish a public call for proposals. Prior to this phase, several rounds of negotiations take place together with
the stakeholders. At the end of the negotiation phase, which can be long and complex, the project guidelines
for the project are issued: they define the objectives, the eligible actions, the funds earmarked, the
partnership composition, etc.

The programming phase is followed by the identification phase, in which the project-idea is drafted. It
outlines the essential elements of the proposed intervention (project strategy), endorsed by the main
stakeholders operating in the area or sector covered by the project. To accurately formulate a project idea
with relevance, internal coherence and sustainability in mind, PCM advocates the use of one or more
participative planning workshops according to the GOPP method.

This kind of participatory workshops can also be used for the programming phase in order to have a draft
programme strategy, with the consensus of the different stakeholders. GOPP workshops involve the main
beneficiaries and stakeholders, who are likely to have a role in the project or programme implementation. A

GOPP workshop is moderated by an independent and professional facilitator who can guarantee that
different view points are taken on board. The duration of a GOPP workshop varies, but generally lasts 2-3
days. The final output of the workshop is a draft project/programme idea, presented in the form of a Logical
Framework matrix.

Running a formal GOPP workshop with the key actors is not always possible. If this is the case, the method
used during GOPP workshop can be applied by a single project/programme cycle manager or by the project
team to draft a more transparent and relevant proposal. One recurrent pitfall of project proposals is that they
are times too general: this occurs when proposals are designed by organisations – which often work “in
isolation” - without consulting and being aware of the real problems of the beneficiaries and key actors. PCM
can prevent this from happening thanks to its participative planning tools.

The PCM establishes a basic format to be used to present a project proposal:

1. Summary = Logical Framework Matrix and overview of key elements.

2. Background = analysis of the area or the sector covered, including a description of relevant policies
and/or regulations, an analysis of the main stakeholders and a description of the problems the
project will tackle, as identified during GOPP workshop.
3. Project description = description of the different levels of the Logical Framework (Overall Objectives,
Project Purpose, Results, Activities).
4. Assumptions = identification of external factors which could adversely affect the project progress or
jeopardize its success, over which the project/programme cycle manager has limited control.
5. Implementation = description of key requirements to achieve the project’s objective including:
organizations to be involved in the project, timetable of activities, milestones, and resource
requirements (technical, human, and financial resources).
6. Factors ensuring sustainability = description of how the benefits will be sustained after the project
support has ended.
7. Monitoring and evaluation = description of the monitoring and evaluation activities during the project.

After the submission of the project proposal, PCM advocates the use of another important tool: the ex ante
evaluation technique, the Logical Framework Analysis (LFA). By using this tool, the financing authority can
assess the quality of the proposals against three criteria: relevance, coherence and sustainability. The LFA
can also be useful to identify those aspects of the project which are unclear. The LFA can be used either by
individuals or in a participative workshop, moderated by an independent facilitator. In a workshop
environment relevant actors and experts will be able to express their views and opinions on the relevance,
coherence and sustainability of the draft proposal.

If the project proposal is approved, the project moves on to the formulation phase. PCM advocates that all
partners meet in a formulation workshop to plan their work programme. The aim of the workshop is to identify
the expectations of these diverse actors, analyse potential obstacles and areas requiring clarification and
agree on the work plan. The final output of this phase is an executive project. This document also undergoes
an ex-ante evaluation: if positively assessed and funded12, the project moves to the next PCM phase which is
implementation. PCM suggests that, if necessary, partners should meet in a start-up workshop at the very
beginning of project implementation to exchange ideas and review operational options.

During the implementation phase PCM advocates that the organisation or partnership managing the project
regularly monitors and reports on activities, to determine the progress made. Both internal and external
monitoring can take place: the former is carried out by the project manager; the latter is conducted by the
financing authority which may delegate a third party. Likewise, evaluation can be internal and external.
Ongoing evaluation takes place midway through project implementation. It draws from data derived from the
monitoring activities and this is why monitoring and evaluation are closely related. At this stage, PCM
recommends that all partners and project managers meet in an evaluation workshop in order to assess the
project status and agree on corrective actions, if needed.

PCM does not provide standard documents for M&E activities. Each Managing Authority can draw its own
monitoring, reporting and evaluation models and tools. At the end of the project a final (project) evaluation
will take place. PCM suggests that the information for this evaluation can be acquired through a final GOPP

The financial conditions and technical procedures applying in the financing can vary according to the Managing Authority.

workshop13, moderated by an independent facilitator. Information from this workshop and ongoing evaluation
workshops form the basis of the final evaluation report for project.
Six to 24 months after the project completion, the contracting authority may also request an ex post
evaluation; this is an external evaluation because the project has ended. In this phase a review of the
objectives achieved and impact is undertaken in order to provide recommendations for similar future projects
and assist programme cycle managers in improving next generation programmes.

To sum up, PCM is a framework within which to identify and clarify problems and then design, plan,
implement, monitor and evaluate projects to overcome them. PCM creates ‘equality in the workplace’ by
facilitating equal contribution by all stakeholders engaged in the process of regeneration and development. It
builds a shared and concise picture of what a project will do to overcome a specific problem.
PCM divides the ‘project cycle’ into five stages in the life of a project: the cycle starts with the policy
objectives and sectoral area covered and moves to identification of a problem to be addressed, develops the
idea to solve the problem into a working plan that can be implemented and monitored and, on completion,
evaluated. PCM provides the context in which project decisions are made and activities managed: it
maintains the critical linkage between one stage and the next. As a common methodology PCM provides the
basis for a partnership framework when more than one agency is engaged in planning or managing projects.

Bussi Federico, Progettare in partenariato, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2001, p. 105-109.


3.1 Background

The EQUAL Initiative has been a learning laboratory not only of innovative practices to foster the inclusion of
the most disadvantaged groups, but also a test-bed of sound planning and management methodologies.
With reference to the latter, a core group of eight Member States has conducted a successful pilot
experience by introducing PCM as a planning standard in the context of ESF-funded interventions.

The Managing Authorities of Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the United
Kingdom have adopted PCM in a variety of ways: the use of this approach was usually not mandatory
(Lithuania did mandate use of the approach), but its use was strongly recommended and supported in all the
concerned countries by the Managing Authority and support agencies. In addition, the method has been
applied to different extents: at project level in all the above countries (more than 400 Development
partnerships14); at programme level in fewer cases.

In the framework of the mainstreaming strategy coordinated by the European Commission-B4, these
countries joined the European Working Group “Capacity Building” whose mandate was to assess the impact
of PCM on the quality of the funded projects and programmes. The objective being transferring the lessons
learnt from EQUAL on the planning process to the 2007-2013 ESF programmes. To do so, in the course of
2005 self-evaluations actions were carried out for the EQUAL programme in each country. The key findings
of the national reports were presented on the occasion of the European Conference “Exchanging
Experiences on Sound Programme Planning” held in Vilnius on 17/18 November 200515.

The present section provide a summary of the main findings and recommendations of this self-assessment

3.2 Research design

The evaluators used a variety of methods, including written questionnaires and surveys, in-depth interviews
with project managers of the Development Partnerships, interviews with representatives of the EQUAL
Managing Authority and supporting units, evaluation workshops, meetings with stakeholders, and analysis of
documents (applications, proposed plans)17 . The evaluations focused specifically on design and planning

In order to ensure consistency and comparability of the results yielded in the different Member States
involved, the self-evaluations all followed in general terms a similar format and added specific national
emphasis. They dealt with: relevance, coherence, economy, effectiveness and efficiency as defined in the
European Commission document "Evaluating EU Activities: A Practical Guide for Commission Services"18.

Main findings
The national self-evaluations cover many but not all DPs in their countries 19. In some countries, use of the
approach and its tools was made mandatory by the Managing Authority while in others it was simply
recommended by the authority or offered as a useful set of tools by the supporting structures. The use of the
method and underlying tools is varied: according to the self-evaluation reports it ranges from 12.5% of the
partnerships surveyed to close to 100%. It should be noted that the highest figures for uptake of the method
do not only come from countries which made use of this approach mandatory20.

European Communities, Sourcebook on sound planning of ESF programmes, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the
European Communities, 2007, ISBN 92-79-03258-5, p. 6.
News - Vilnius ESF seminar on Exchanging experiences in sound planning,
Synthesis Report of the Self-evaluations on planning approach as applied by the EQUAL Programme, PCM Group, Brussels,
November 2005 www.soundplanning.eu.
Details of the self-evaluations, methodology use, data collected, etc. can be found in the self-evaluation documents of the national
authorities collected in the Document Repository www.soundplanning.eu. .
Evaluating EU Activities: A Practical Guide for Commission Services. DG BUDGET – Evaluation unit, European Commission. July
2004. Ref. KV-59-04-532-EN-C. ISBN 92-894-7928-0.
Details on the coverage are to be found in the national self-evaluation reports.
Since the country-specific data are not comparable, it is not possible to aggregate (quantify) the figures in the self-evaluation reports,
and we recommend interested readers see the detailed results in www.soundplanning.eu.

In qualitative terms, the reports indicate that of those who have used the methodology, the overwhelming
majority express the opinion that it is useful or very useful for their work. Most believe that it contributed
strongly to better quality project management at DP level and decreased planning and design problems
considerably. The positive effect of the high participation which the method offers meant that there were
fewer issues regarding the division of responsibilities, the allocation of resources and personal and
institutional problems within the partnerships.

Although some respondents comment that the planning approach is quite complex and not always easy to
apply in practice, the evaluations indicate that even partnerships with no experience in managing projects
were able to apply the techniques. This suggests that the training, publications/toolkit, and other support
were sufficient to overcome difficulties in practical application of the methods. The EQUAL projects include
many different types of partners and were diverse in size, scope and budget: it would appear that the
methodology was equally suitable to all.

On the issue of relevance, the approach scores strongly. Using PCM in whole or in part helped to ensure
that an intervention’s objectives are pertinent to needs, problems and issues to be addressed. Also
ownership of the DP's efforts by all those involved was strongly influenced by the participative approach: the
active involvement of all the relevant actors made implementation easier and more focused on real needs.
DP's which used the approach avoided setting unrealistic or irrelevant objectives based on poor problem
analysis. Stakeholder analysis therefore plays a significant role regarding relevance, as does the analysis of
problems and objectives.

Regarding coherence, respondents state that (when applied) the method was of definite assistance in
preparing coherent plans; specific mention was made of the value of using the method with diverse partners
to assist in achieving a common understanding and convergence among the partners on their common
objectives. Also, the structured approach and the specific tools ensure that the intervention logic is coherent.
Since the tools also require that the plans take account of factors external to the DP's own intervention,
coherence with other efforts was actively considered in the design phase. There is also evidence from the
assessors of the proposals and project selection committees (ex ante evaluation) that partnerships which
used the method produced more internally logical plans or that the methodology made it easy to see gaps in
the intervention logic and make requests to the partnerships for adjustments to their plans.

Regarding economy (the extent to which the use of resources could be focused), probably for many
countries was too early to say whether the promise of economy of resources which the method holds will
actually be realised in implementation (hence the comment, for example, "too early to say"). The methods
applied did ensure that resources were available in due time, of appropriate quantity and of the desired
quality. Also, the internal logic helps to ensure that only those activities needed to reach the agreed results
and objectives are designed into the project. The feeling of ownership for the entire process of the DP also
reportedly led some partners to give up part of their share of the budget in favour of other partners (or
organisations which were invited to participate chose not too and even proposed alternative organisations
better suited to reach the objectives).

On effectiveness, respondents score very strongly. The comments make it clear that a high level of
confidence is generated by use of the method. The direct linkage of identified problems to intended
objectives is seen as a key element, as is the provision of indicators/measures of success in the Logical
Framework Matrix. Where the tools were also used for the ex ante evaluation of proposals by the Managing
Authority, effectiveness criteria form part of the assessment. This also contributes to DP effectiveness
(filtering out less effective proposals).

On efficiency respondents are more neutral. Substantial numbers of DP's do state that application of the
tools helped in managing human and financial resources more efficiently. There are examples where
resources were re-allocated voluntarily to increase efficiency and also situations where DP's shared facilities
and human resources, so reducing the total cost of interventions. In the design phase, there is evidence that
application of the Logical Framework Matrix led to careful consideration of the necessity of including
activities, and in some cases to the exclusion of activities which were originally planned.

In some cases, the self-evaluations also considered the issue of potential sustainability. The ex ante
evaluations of DP proposals indicate that the majority which used the tools exhibit a high degree of potential
sustainability. In addition to the effect of including relevant stakeholders and other actors in the situational
analysis, and ensuring that real needs are addressed, this is ascribed to the timely consideration of external
risk factors and the fact that policy support from decision-makers was obtained at an early stage. Inclusion of

relevant actors in the early stages of the design and planning process also focused attention on the capacity
of implementing agencies to provide sufficient follow-up once the interventions are completed.

3.3 Conclusions
The following conclusions are stated in one or more of the self-evaluation reports. Because of the variety of
situations in which national authorities and their DP's operate, it is not possible to quantify the extent to which
member states support all conclusions. Nonetheless, there is a surprising unanimity in the country self-
evaluation reports about these conclusions, and little which suggests that any specific conclusion here would
not be supported in a specific country context.

Where PCM is used partners are convinced that it is relevant and effective.
The PCM approach appears to be especially valued for the fact that ownership among partners is strongly
supported by the method. It ensures active participation of the beneficiaries and helps in the selection of
partners and in enabling them to agree on common strategies. The tight connection between problem
analysis and objectives is valued and the system generates confidence among its users that they will be
more effective. The coherence of objectives and activities which the Planning Matrix offers is highly valued.

DP managers who used PCM confirm its value for planning, monitoring and implementation
The DP activities which were designed and planned using the toolkit were felt to be more effective and more
efficient. Managers mention: beneficiaries more committed and co-operative; clear and realistic objectives
and due account of risk factors; sounder decision-making and more rational use of resources; inclusion of
genuinely relevant actors. Some project managers indicated that they were looking for new tools and that the
toolset and approach offered by PCM was very suitable to these needs.

DP proposals designed using PCM principles were systematically better

For relevance, feasibility and potential sustainability the self-evaluation findings indicate that the proposals
made by DPs which applied PCM were better than those drafted without use of these tools. In particular, it
seems that applying the method helped DP's define activities which can generate lasting benefits because
they considered from the outset the concrete steps needed to obtain necessary policy support and follow-up.
The inclusion of stakeholders in the (participative) planning process plays an important role in this respect.

Overall programme quality was improved according to the programme officers

The method was seen as a powerful capacity-building mechanism by regional Managing Authorities, not only
for the DP's but also for the authority staff involved. The tools helped in:
• setting up clear procedures and applicant guidelines;
• improving communication between the authority and the managers of DP's;
• enabling more rigorous monitoring and ex ante evaluation of DP proposals and impacts;
• supporting the establishment of meaningful DP networks.

It is also possible that where proposals have been designed using this methodology, their assessment
(notably coherence with programme /priority objectives, feasibility and utility) and comparison (because of
common structure for presenting the proposal) may be easier, and thus use less time and resources in the
assessment procedures, especially if the methodology is also explicitly applied for that assessment. It may
also be true that where project management uses all the tools throughout the project cycle, better quality
data for monitoring and evaluation at programme level will be available.

Current use and interest in PCM was substantial.

The use of the method depends on many factors, including the programme phase in which the Development
Partnerships (DPs) are operating as well as the instructions received from the Managing Authority regarding
its use (e.g. whether it is mandatory, strongly recommended or completely optional).

The method needs to be used from the start if it is to be most effective.

To be most useful, the approach needs to be applied from the beginning, to enable participation in all stages
of the design process. The timing of introduction is critical.

There is little evidence of other formal planning and design methods in use.
Only in few cases does it appear that if PCM approach is not used, some other planning method is used
instead. Either no formal method is used (managers work on the basis of experience) or internal planning
approaches are said to be used; however there appears to be little evidence that planning and design

methods are actually in use (people appear to refer to internal administrative and financial systems or to
existing management information systems).

Project managers ask for more, additional and timely training and/or support.
The training on the planning method which was offered appears generally to have been appreciated. The
approach is understood, although managers do state that it is not always easy to apply (for a variety of
reasons). Additional training and other ways of developing experience with the planning tools would be
welcomed. The timing of the training is seen as critical: it is essential that it be provided early in the planning
process, when DPs are defining projects and choosing the methodology to manage their

The approach helps monitoring and evaluation.

The method is seen to help gather relevant monitoring information. Regarding evaluation, consistent use of
the tools from the beginning will simplify the evaluation and make it more consistent with the planning phase.

The self-evaluation indicates that this planning method can be widely applied.
The evaluation results do not indicate major differences in use of or perceived value of the planning method
among projects of different scope or budget or with different kinds of partners. Amount of experience with
project management also does not appear to play a role. For this reason it would appear that the approach
can be successfully applied in variety of situations.


4.1 Background

As described in chapter 3 under the EQUAL Initiative the PCM methodology was adopted by a core group
made up of eight Member States. In the 2000-2006 Programming Period of the ESF the method was applied
in a more comprehensive way by three of these Members States – namely French and German-speaking
Belgium, Italy and Poland – either at national or regional level, both at Programme and project level.

The following paragraphs describe the unique features of each experience; it is noteworthy that, despite the
differences between the different approaches, the rationale for introducing PCM was the same across the
borders. Evaluation reports invariably pointed out to systematic pitfalls at project level (poor quality of project
proposals, insufficient involvement of the local actors in the planning process, and inadequate institutional
co-operation and communication among stakeholders, etc.). In all these experiences PCM was viewed as a
the right way to overcome these problems.

Four PCM application models can be identified:

a) PCM as a planning method adopted by the ESF MA at regional level both at Programme and project
level (Sardinia Region, Italy);
b) PCM adopted at national level in the EQUAL context as a mandatory planning standard for projects
(French and German-speaking Belgium);
c) PCM adopted at regional level in the EQUAL context as a capacity building tool for the regional MA
and related TA Unit, as well as a recommended planning standard for projects (Piedmont Region,
d) PCM adopted at national level in the EQUAL context as a recommended planning standard for
projects (Poland).

The Sardinian model

Reference to model a), in the ESF 2000-2006 Programming Period Sardinia – which was an Obj. 1 region - –
in the capacity of the ESF Managing Authority – adopted the so-called “Integrated Territorial Projects” (ITPs)
as the operational way to implement local development interventions, as provided in the 2000-2006 Regional
Operation Programme (OP). The ITPs objective was twofold: boosting the competitiveness of the Sardinian
economic system, while at the same time reducing the gaps detected in these lagging areas.

The new integrated planning strategy for local development at Programme level was based on PCM. An
impressive range of institutional, social and economic actors (1,600) were actively involved in the planning
process which lasted a whole year (2005) and led to the adoption of strategic plan designed to plan
integrated projects at local level (ITPs) in May 2006. This was achieved by staging PCM-based fora with
local actors which proved very successful in engaging the stakeholders thanks to the participative method
adopted to facilitate the working groups. As a result, inter-institutional dialogue was finally taking place
between the Region, the Provinces and the actors on the ground, reinforcing trust relations towards the
Regional administration. At project level, this, in turn, led to the approval of nearly 200 ITPs which also
applied the method in the planning phase. The Sardinia Region maintains that the overall quality of the
interventions has significantly improved thanks to the adoption of this robust planning method.

The Belgian model

Reference to model b), the MA introduced PCM at national level as a mandatory project planning
standard in the context of the EQUAL Initiative in Round 2 (2004). In Round 1 PCM had been used for
project self-assessment and gender mainstreaming purposes. In Round 2, training was initially provided to
the ESF managers in charge of monitoring the Equal projects, both from the financial and thematic viewpoint.
In addition, the entire applicant’s package was designed on the basis of PCM (application form, applicant’s
guide, PCM brochure).

At project level, this model offered a variety of services ranging from thematic seminars designed to increase
awareness about the use of PCM to hands-on training, ongoing coaching to project co-ordinators and
workshops associated to each phase of the project life cycle, and a customised PCM help-desk. The MA
further decided that training in PCM would be an eligible cost for projects. Though the MA acknowledges that
introducing PCM method required a substantial investment, this paid off: PCM was a decisive factor in
improving the quality of projects during their conception, implementation, evaluation and mainstreaming

The Piedmontese model
Reference to model c), the EQUAL MA in Piedmont adopted PCM at regional level initially as a capacity
building tool for the regional MA and related TA Unit. In order to strengthen itself with the competence
needed (supporting quality project planning, setting up sound monitoring and self-evaluation system, etc.),
the Department for Vocational Training and Labour decided to set aside the financial resources for setting up
a TA Unit. To do so, a specific PCM tool was used, the “Support Unit Matrix”, that helped the Region identify
the elements to be strengthen its organisation, in order to provide adequate support to its “clients”, the Equal
DPs. To this end, the Department set up a TA Unit in order to place support at DPs disposal. A dedicated
training activity on PCM for the Unit staff was also organised.

PCM was also a recommended planning standard for projects as early as Round 1 (2001). The TA Unit
delivered a range of services by making four TA resource persons available to the DPs: from assistance in
revising project proposal in view of their admission to Action 2 to support in applying the self-strengthening
matrixes and support in implementing monitoring and self-evaluation activities. The Piedmont Region
maintains that the results achieved in both Rounds confirmed that PCM was the right way to go in order to
ensure an adequate reserve of quality projects.

The Polish model

Reference to model d), the EQUAL MA in Poland adopted PCM at national level in Round 2. PCM was
introduced as a recommended planning standard for projects. The EQUAL DP’s support system in
Poland based on followings elements: training on the main PCM concepts and tools; consultation with PCM
experts by phone or by appointment, e-mail inquiries, provision of European Commission guidance materials
on PCM adapted to the local needs (Equal PCM toolkit in Polish) as well as training materials. A dedicated
PCM helpline was introduced after training sessions as well as e-mail box was created for PCM questions
and answers.

Two national surveys show that not only the vast majority of DPs (nearly 100) declared that they actually
used PCM in the planning phase, but also that 93% of organisations stated that they would use PCM in
upcoming projects.

4.2 PCM in Sardinia: a powerful planning tool to promote local development

Background information
In the 2000-2006 Programming Period Sardinia – which is currently phasing in the Competitiveness Obj. -
was an Obj. 1 region. In keeping with the guidelines provided in the Community Support Framework, the
Sardinia Region – in the capacity of the ESF Managing Authority – adopted the so-called “Integrated
Territorial Projects” (ITPs) as the operational way to implement local development interventions, as provided
in the 2000-2006 Regional Operation Programme (OP).

ITPs are defined as “a set of interrelated intersectoral actions” which pursue “a common development
objective and the same implementing approach”. They are complex projects which follow all the phases of
the project cycle namely: identification, formulation, financing, implementation and evaluation. The ITPs
objective is twofold: boosting the competitiveness of the Sardinian economic system, while at the same time
reducing the gaps detected in these lagging areas. In order to reach this objective it became apparent that
an analysis of the local needs and opportunities was needed, including the active involvement of the key
stakeholders (social and institutional actors).

Why PCM was introduced

In the time period 2001-2004 a call for proposals was launched. A total of 13 ITPs were retained, which are
still underway. According to the Mid-term Evaluation Report of the Sardinia Region OP, the results were far
below the expectations. The Independent Evaluator highlighted, among other, the following pitfalls:

• poor quality of the project proposals

• inadequate institutional co-operation and communication amongst local actors
• insufficient involvement of the local actors in the problem identification phase.

The evaluator recommended that much greater attention be paid to setting clear objectives and identifying
adequate strategies and effective tools to promote cohesion.

In November 2004, halfway through the Programming Period, a new MA was appointed within the Sardinia
Region. A new Integrated Planning strategy was adopted, centred on local development policies, which
intended to test a new planning approach to be transferred to the 2007-2013 Programming Period. The
rationale being strengthening institutional co-operation and identifying new ground rules to plan more
effective ESF interventions.

How PCM was introduced

Once the regional Minister for Programming defined the Integrated Planning strategy at political level, this
was implemented by the Sardinian OP MA in a participative and multi-actor fashion. The decision-making
process became far more inclusive by involving a wide range of stakeholders, namely: the Provinces, trade
unions, employer organizations, and local administrations.

From the outset the new planning strategy was based on Project Cycle Management, in order to ensure that
project proposals: a) be based on the real problems of the final beneficiaries and; b) offer viable solutions to
the problems identified in the various fields of intervention.

In order to launch this broad participative process, a host of actors were taken on board drawing from
technical and partnership bodies; they have been entrusted with the overall co-ordination of the planning
process as well as with the territorial animation exercise. The members of the institutional and economic
partnership met in so-called “Provincial and Regional Partnership Negotiating Tables” and were actively
involved in the planning process (each Table convenes 40 to 80 actors).

The planning and animation processes were steered by several technical bodies: The Regional Co-
ordination Group, Territorial Planning Labs, and Regional technical groups on a range of sectors: industry,
agriculture and rural development, tourism, environment, and social inclusion. The Territorial Planning Labs –
operating in each of the 8 Provinces - have proved to be the most innovative vehicle to spark positive inter-
institutional co-operation They successfully conducted territorial animation activities and managed to reduce
conflict, map out potential for growth and development, support the planning process.

Formez (Training Centre for the Public Administration) played a key role in promoting innovative processes,
via a task force associated with the Sprint Project (Supporting Integrated Planning), which assisted both the
MA and the Regional Co-ordination Group.

Support services provided: from planning to project formulation

The stakeholders’ active participation has been guaranteed throughout the entire cycle, from the problem
identification phase to the definition of shared solutions, as required by the PCM approach.

PLANNING: identifying a shared strategy

A broad and inclusive planning process was launched in February 2005 and included eight territorial
meetings with the Sardinian Provinces. A total of 1,100 persons were involved: while these initiatives were
warmly received by the institutional actors, the private sector was poorly involved at this stage.

ANALYSIS OF THE LOCAL CONTEXT: territorial animation and tuning in the local actors’ needs
From May 2005 the Territorial Labs conducted a thorough market survey including interviews to local key
actors, participative workshops and focus groups in order to map out local development opportunities. Eight
territorial fora were set up – one per Province - where the survey’s results were reported and additional
ideas and new actors taken on board.

These one-day fora proved very successful in engaging the stakeholders thanks to the participative method
adopted to facilitate the working groups. The strengths of the PCM-based method can be summarised as
follows: active participation; visualisation of the group’s ideas; concrete discussion, goal-oriented approach;
mutual learning; and participants’ empowerment.

Approximately 1,600 participants were involved in the process: the private sector’s initial distrust was also

Fig. 1 – Working group on Environment - Forum of the Nuoro Province.

Over a two-year period the Territorial Labs succeeded in building trust relations and in empowering the local
actors. The territorial animation fostered constructive co-operation among the stakeholders. As a result, by
May 2006 a strategic plan was in place in order to plan integrated projects at local level.

PLANNING: building partnerships and planning integrated projects

The territorial animation activity had identified a wide range of local development opportunities. This
prompted the Regional Government to double the funds allocated for integrated projects (700 million Euros).
A call for proposal was launched on May 1st 2006. In the second
semester of the year the Territorial Labs provided consultancy and
technical advice to applicants. The response was impressive: over
14,000 project proposals were submitted in June 2006. Again the
Territorial Labs played a key role in supporting both the creation of
partnerships and the project formulation via technical meetings and
provision of technical advice.

Fig. 2 – A A Fig. 2 - Promotional

campaign poster

Once the partnerships had been formally set up, they began planning their interventions according to the
guidelines provided in a PCM-based Applicant’s Guide to Planning Integrated Projects.

Thus the Sardinia Region confirmed PCM and GOPP (Goal Oriented Project Planning) as the planning
standard for the design phase as well. The underlying idea was to improve the quality of the proposals,
while at the same time ensuring the continued stakeholders’ participation throughout the process.

Fig. 3 – A glimpse at some GOPP

To support this strategic decision, in October-November 2006 Formez (Sprint project- KM Cohesion project)
run 15 training workshops on the GOPP method in order to build capacity among the members of the
Territorial Labs, the partnerships’ steering groups, providing training to 450 persons. The two-day training
covered a the presentation of the methodology by professional facilitators, including a case study; working
groups testing the method on specific integrated projects. Formez training and capacity building action was
highly valued by the participants; not only it contributed to making the planning process of 200 Partnerships
far smoother, but it also ensured a consistent planning approach across the board.

Planning integrated
Private organizations
development projects
Technical associations/consultants
Employer organizations
Development agencies
category Research centres/universities
Local health units
Montainous communities
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 National Administrations
Technical associations

Partecipative Planning GOPP Workshop
Private Institutions
Approx. 450 participants, 720 attendees 31%
October-December 2006

Fig. 4 – GOPP workshops participants by category

By December 2006 a total of 200 Integrated Projects had been submitted. In the meantime a significant
participative process had been set in motion and reinforced trust relations had been established towards the
Regional administration: this was the result of the inter-institutional dialogue which was finally taking place
between the Region, the Provinces and the actors on the ground.

In the time period January-September 2007, a total of 199 ITPs were approved and funded. As most of them
are still at an early stage of implementation, an assessment of their quality is not yet possible. Nonetheless,
it can safely be stated that the overall quality of the interventions appears to have significantly improved
thanks to the adoption of this robust planning method.

This PCM-based participative planning approach has produced the following results in terms of:
• governance: its principles (openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness, coherence) have
been implemented; a broad and qualified participation has been ensured throughout the planning
• subsidiarity: this principle has been implemented via the partnership approach, and private/public
sector co-operation;
• administrative innovation: a new way of “doing things” has been successfully tested; innovative
tools and methodologies have been adopted, namely PCM and GOPP;
• institutional building: the process involved the entire region and its key actors; its impact has been
significant in terms of capacity building, institutional capacity and empowerment;
• social capital: pre-existing relations have been substantially strengthened and a total of 200
partnerships created.

By testing this PCM-based participative planning, a powerful collective learning process has been promoted
in Sardinia. The territory has begun a journey into learning how to build trust relations, network with local
actors, identify shared problems and solutions, and promote added value.

For further information:

To learn more and consult relevant documents about this participative process log on the Sardinia Region
official web site http://www.regione.sardegna.it/argomenti/europa/progettazioneintegrata/

4.3 The experience with PCM in French and German-speaking Belgium

Why PCM was introduced

Planning as an instrument for implementing European programmes in the context of the European Social
Fund is nothing new. In fact, it has been present since 1989. It reflects a continuing concern to ensure the
quality that the European Commission has in terms of the projects that it cofinances and, in general, the
programmes which define its action.

According to the European Commission, the key factors in the success of a programme, and thereby, the
projects that it cofinances, are an overall, consistent approach in the design, clearly identified strategic
objectives, stakeholder involvement in the implementation and finally, sound financial management from the
outset. The integration of these factors is one of the keys that opens the door to quality projects and to
increased transferability.

After Round 1 of the Equal programme, various evaluations took place at European Commission level, and
the ESF Agency, with a view to preparing and improving Round 2. The need for technical assistance at an
early stage, for clear, shared objectives, better budgeting, the difficulty in converting good ideas into a
coherent project and the confusion between objectives, results and activities were all attention areas. Taking
account of the results of the external evaluation and the desire, on all sides, to improve procedures while
providing concrete aid to DPs in the field, encouraged the competent authorities and the ESF Agency to opt
for the Project Cycle Management (PCM) method. PCM was used for the self-assessment and gender
mainstreaming work in Round 1. PCM became the reference model for the second call for proposals.

PCM was an obvious choice in view of its many advantages: the possibility of covering planning, monitoring
and evaluation, its holistic approach, the need to ask the right questions to determine the objective of the
project, the possibility of introducing corrective actions during the process, assistance for more specific
project budgeting and finally, the possibility of determining the competencies required at an early stage.

How PCM was introduced and implemented

Initially, the ESF Agency revised the way in which it would implement the second Equal call for proposals.
The timetable was decided in advance, as were the relevant procedures. The application form for financial
support was simplified. The call for projects was organised in two stages: an expression of interest followed
by a definitive application for financial support. Thematic seminars were held on one hand to exchange
project ideas per theme, before submitting the application for financial support and, on the other hand, to

increase awareness of the future use of PCM and gender mainstreaming techniques. It was decided that
training in PCM would be an eligible cost for projects. This meant that all operators would enter the Equal
programming on an equal methodological footing.

In parallel with the introduction of PCM as a mandatory planning standard, the competent authorities and the
ESF agencies assisted the DPs in applying the method. With the help of a consultant, PCM training was
offered to all resource persons. The training course, lasting 3 days, was very practical and hands-on. It
enabled participants to start to learn the concepts of PCM and use them in the practical situation. This
training was given to project coordinators as well as to the ESF managers who would be charged with
monitoring the Equal projects, both from the financial and thematic viewpoint.

The ESF Agency also offered the DPs a review of their project with the assistance of a consultant, with a
view to establishing Development Partnership Agreements (DPAs).

The appropriateness of the choice of PCM was even more tangible in the project selection phase. Indeed,
both the administrative (within the Agency) and external evaluation (by the competent authorities) were
facilitated by the comprehensive character of the project proposals, by the project summary appended to the
application dossier in the form of the Logical Framework matrix provided by the PCM method and by the
administrative monitoring by ESF staff who had previously been trained in the methodology.

In addition to the basic training, the ESF Agency adopted a logic of continuous coaching and training in PCM
throughout the life cycle of the Equal projects. Thus it organised quarterly workshops on very specific
themes, usually connected with the stage of the project that the DPs were expected to have reached at the
time when the workshop took place. The appeal of the workshops was the possibility they offered DPs to
work on their own projects rather than on invented and theoretical case studies. The workshops covered:
problem trees, definition of objectives, evaluation criteria, the formulation of indicators, mid-term reviews,
project evaluation and risk management, mainstreaming and the production of the final report and the final
evaluation procedure.

The methodological support went well beyond the basic and continuing training courses. The ESF Agency
charged a contractor with providing individualised, customised coaching of projects which took the form of a
"PCM help desk". The principle was simple: the DPs contacted a consultant on their own initiative and
depending on their specific requirements. The consultant was at their disposal for between one day a week
and one day a month, and answered their questions by phone, mail or via the help desk's Internet site; It
seems that operators did not make much use of this modulable help, usually preferring to contact their ESF
manager who, in general, was able to answer their questions since these managers had also been trained in
the methodology.

The training courses and the help desk were supported by the delivery of methodological tools specific for
DPs, like the provision of an Internet site (www.ebief.be/hdfse) which features:
• a learning module on the Logical Framework approach,
• the documents sent out for the workshops,
• a forum,
• links to useful sites or the updated self-assessment tool.

The learning module included the various stages of the PCM methodology, as set out in the brochure
"Project Cycle Management explained to project promoters (or “PCM made easy”). It should be borne in
mind that this brochure was disseminated widely in the Equal context, and more recently, to raise awareness
about the PCM methodology prior to the call for projects for the new ESF Programming Period.

The introduction of the PCM method required a substantial investment, both for the ESF Agency and for the
DPs, in terms of training, human and financial resources, conception and follow-up. It was therefore essential
to carry out a comprehensive evaluation on the efficiency of the methodology. It was a matter of ensuring
that the use of PCM was a decisive factor in improving the quality of projects during their conception,
implementation, evaluation and mainstreaming phases. Overall, more DPs were satisfied than were
dissatisfied. The reason given most frequently was that despite the complexity and the difficulty of taking it
on board, PCM allowed a clear qualitative leap at each stage of the project. The objective was fulfilled.

Annex 1
The Help-desk website

“PCM made easy” : available in french on www.fse.be

4.4 The Piedmont Region experience

Background information
Under EQUAL, the Piedmont Region - the Managing Authority of geographical of DPs in this area
(Competitiveness Obj.) - was pioneer in Italy in adopting PCM as a Programme management tool, as well in
providing advice and promoting its application at DP level as early as Round 1.

The Region EQUAL project portfolio included 41 geographical DPs (that is 5,8% of the overall approved DPs
in both Round 1 and 2 in Italy). Only part of these partnerships applied the PCM method voluntarily (and
selectively), as it was not a required planning standard in Italy. Specifically, in Round 1 less that one quarter
(22.7%) of the retained DPs in Piedmont chose to apply PCM. The PCM adoption rate, however, increased
substantially in Round 2 as all retained DPs applied the method. The Region also applied PCM to improved
the Programme management at regional level, as described below.

Why PCM was introduced

In July 2001 the regional officials involved in the evaluation of the EQUAL Round 1 project proposals realized
that nearly all the projects were poor quality. The Evaluation Committee in fact reported the following
systematic pitfalls and bad practices:

• poor definition and involvement of the final beneficiaries

• poor diagnosis of the problems the final beneficiaries were affected by
• confusion between objectives and activities
• no measurable indicators for objectives

• poor identification of assumptions/risk factors
• nothing serious about sustainability.

Against this background, the Piedmont Region Department for Vocational Training and Employment became
convinced that a sound and robust planning tool was urgently needed, as well as a brand new TA support
services in order to improve the project quality. PCM - an established method used by a number of
international organisations – was identified as an effective planning and management tool to be applied in
Equal. It therefore began actively promoting the PCM methodology among the Development Partnerships.
At the same time, Project Managers, evaluators, the Technical Assistance staff were trained on this
methodology. The regional officials and the TA staff supported every DP in revising their projects according
to the PCM principles. However, just a few of them accepted to adopt PCM. Those project were the best
performing in Round 1. These results achieved confirmed that PCM was the right way to go in order to
ensure a reserve of quality projects. These positive results were confirmed in Round 2 on a far larger scale.

How PCM was introduced

The Region realized that the method provided powerful capacity building tools which could have helped the
EQUAL Unit in supporting the Development Partnerships more effectively. As a first step the retained DPs
were required to re-design their projects according to the PCM methodology (taking advantage of the 4
month time period available to DPs to submit an executive project, a requirement for admission to Action 2).
To this end, the Department set up a TA Unit in order to place support at DPs disposal, designed to make
DPs aware of the advantages both for the project beneficiaries or for the DPs.

In order to support the Development Partnerships more effectively, the TA and support services provided by
the regional Equal Unit were redesigned. The three Matrixes of PCM were adopted:

• the “WHAT matrix” (called “Logical Framework”) describes the project essential elements
• the “HOW matrix” (the DP self-strengthening matrix)
• the “SUPPORT matrix” (the matrix of the Equal Unit in Piedmont Region).

a) The “WHAT matrix” describes what should happen in order to improve the condition of the final

Logical Framework matrix

Intervention Objectively Verifiable Sources of Verification Assumptions
logic Indicators
Activities Means/Costs

b) The “HOW matrix” describes how the activities in the WHAT matrix are going to be organized
internally in order to manage the project in the most effective way.

“HOW matrix”
Overall Objectives Implementing the activities identified in the “WHAT matrix”
Purpose DPs able to operate in an efficient and professional way
Results What the DP members and staff will be able to know and do
R1, R2, R3, R4, …
Activities What will be done in order to achieve the expected results

c) The most appropriate tool for the purpose of providing support to DPs is the “Support Unit matrix”
that helped the Region identify the elements to be strengthen, in order to provide adequate support
to its “clients”, the Equal DPs.


Overall Objective: “Effective support to strengthen Equal DPs provided”.

Management Purpose: “Professional functioning support organisation”.

The question that the Department responsible for Equal has to ask itself is:
“Why does the staff of our Project Management Unit need the support?”.

The Results, intended as the “services” that will be received by the staff, contribute to develop an internal
organisational environment, while the Activities contribute to realize the internal capacity building.

In order to build up the Support Matrix, any Programme Management Unit providing assistance to Equal
DPs must have capacities, competences and capabilities listed below, referred to as “Results” in the
1. advisory capacity: skills in evaluating projects, offering consultancy, supporting running projects
2. project identification and formulation: capability of the Equal staff in identification and formulation in
order to be able to evaluate the projects
3. competence on organisational capacity
4. procedures and guidelines: the staff must be able to provide effective guidelines and to set up clear
5. quality control: mission, priority setting, deadlines setting, reflection on effectiveness and impact
6. finance: capability in supporting DPs for any needs about expenses certification, statements, accounts,
financial reports
7. co-ordination: communication lines and mechanisms for internal and external co-ordination
8. evaluation of the quality of the projects
9. public relations, promotion
10. monitoring: mechanism, system, organisation.

This Support Unit Matrix outlined the strategy for the EQUAL Unit work plan. For example, in order to
achieve results No. 1 and 2, a dedicated training activity on PCM for the Unit staff was organised.

In order to strengthen itself with the competence and capabilities listed above, the Department for Vocational
Training and Labour decided to set aside the financial resources for setting up a TA Unit able to:

• support every DP in building up the “Problem tree”, “the Objective tree”, the “What matrix” and the
“How matrix”;
• help the EQUAL Regional Unit in identifying the common ground among the projects and foster
collaboration among DPs via facilitated workshops;
• realize case studies in order to identify promising and best practices;
• support the DPs for any financial matter;
• support the DPs in the transnational activities;
• support the DPs in setting up the monitoring and self-evaluation system;
• support the EQUAL Regional Unit in mainstreaming the results of the Equal experience into the
mainstream policy instruments.

What services have been provided

On the basis of the above matrixes, the EQUAL Regional Unit organised and delivered the following
• Supporting Equal Partnerships in improving the projects by applying the PCM matrixes
• Networking of Development Partnerships

• Support the application of the self-organization and self-strengthening matrixes of the Equal
Regional Unit and the DPs.

Via the support service to DPs the Regional EQUAL Unit assisted DPs in revising and improving their project
proposal in view of their admission to Action 2. To this end, for each Theme (Employability,
Entrepreneurship, Adaptability and Equal opportunities) a TA resource person was made available to the
DPs. The TA staff specifically helped DPs redesign their project by applying the What and How matrixes, as
well as in constructing the Problem and Objective trees.

Supporting DPs in applying the PCM matrixes

DPs’ organizational DPs’ project Common language

Results skills improved Planning skills improved among DPs created

Activities Support the project organization

by applying the PCM matrixes

Help the DPs construct

Help the DPs
the “Objectives Tree” Help the DPs in Help the DPs in
and in identifying setting up the What Matrix Setting up the How Matrix
the “Problem Tree”
the areas of intervention

Via the networking service, the Regional EQUAL Unit organized working groups with DPs in order to promote
cross-fertilization and synergy. This service was deemed necessary in order to: a) favour the mainstreaming
of the most successful experiences, and b) support DPs in implementing their monitoring and self-evaluation

Networking of DPs

Common language Common elements Exchange of experiences

Results among DPs created among projects identified among DPs improved

Activities Running workshops

with DPs

Organizing thematic
Organizing thematic
workshops with DPs
with DPs within the
across Themes
same Theme

Finally, via the Support services to the application of the self-organization and self-strengthening matrixes the
EQUAL Regional Unit supported DPs in drafting and implementing the two matrixes: first the “WHAT matrix”
designed to provide services to the beneficiaries was drafted; next, the “How matrix” was drafted in order to
strengthen the DP internally; finally the “Support Unit matrix” was defined. The EQUAL Unit assisted DPs in
linking the three matrixes in a meaningful way, as shown in the figure below.

WHAT, HOW and SUPPORT matrixes

Overall Objectives (Why is the project important for the society) Assumptions
Purpose (Why do the beneficiaries need the project)
Results 1, 2, 3, 4 (Which “services” will be received by the beneficiaries)
Activities 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc… (What will be done) Pre-conditions
WHAT Matrix

The WHAT Logical Framework matrix describes what should happen

to support the beneficiaries in reducing their problems

Overall Objectives: “Implementing the activities identified in the WHAT

Management Purpose; “Professional functioning organisation”
(Why the staff of a given organisation needs support)
Results 1, 2, 3, 4 What the DP members and staff will be able to know and do
(The “services” that will be received by the staff)
Implementing Agencies
HOW Matrix

Activities 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc. (internal capacity building) (What will be done)

The HOW matrixes describe for each implementing organisation HOW the
respective activities in the WHAT matrix will be organised internally

Overall Objectives: “Providing effective support to the implementing

Management Purpose; “Professional functioning support organisation”
(Why the staff of Project Management Unit needs the support)
Results 1, 2, 3, 4 What the DP members and staff will be able to know and do
(The “services” that will be received by the staff)
Activities 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc. (internal capacity building) (What will be done)
Project Management Unit

The SUPPORT matrix describes the internal strengthening of the

MANAGING project support organisation (e.g. partnership or project

Overall, the results achieved in both rounds confirmed that PCM was the right way to go in order to ensure
an adequate reserve of quality projects. The DPs that adopted and have been adopting PCM have been
more effective in managing projects able to create new and better jobs for men and women who have
difficulty in being integrated or re-integrated into the labour market (for evidence, see Italy’s Self-assessment
report www.soundplanning.eu see Document Repository). Last but not least the European Commission- Unit
B4 invited four of these PCM-based projects as promising and good practices which were showcased at
various European conferences and workshops.

4.5 The use of PCM in Poland under the EQUAL Initiative (2000-2006)


The main reasons for introducing PCM in Poland were:

• different level of competency between Development Partnerships organizations (some
organizations had good level of general competences but very low level of competences in
managing projects);
• complex Development Partnerships structure in Poland (107 Development Partnerships qualified for
EQUAL including over 900 organisations had to apply the principle of partnership in practice and
start transnational cooperation. A large number of Partnerships for the first time ever attempted to
establish voluntary cooperation between entities representing all sectors: the public, private and
non-governmental ones);

• relatively low quality level of initial project proposals (the assumption of the Call for proposals in
EQUAL was to choose the best, innovative ideas and solutions to solve social problems. On the
second place was taken into account the proper description of the project proposal with assumption
that the project proposals will be developed under action 1);
• necessity of common standard for project and programme management ( it was found that many
problems, difficulties and restrictions are perceived similarly in various institutions and professionals
involved in the implementation of structural funds in Poland therefore there was a need to introduce
common standard in managing programmes and project to ensure better realization and
• positive experience of PCM use in former programmes (i.e. Phare programmes).

How PCM was introduced: EQUAL - DP’s support in Poland

The EQUAL DP’s support system in Poland based on following elements:

• trainings (DP’s building, partnership rules, definition of the project according to the PCM
methodology, Logframe Matrix, time, resource and cost scheduling);
• consultations (direct consultations with experts in NSS and phone consultations);
• E-mail, internet and workgroup forum about EQUAL programme and project management;
• electronic newsletter with current information about EQUAL programme and FAQ about project
• set of translated or prepared publications and toolkits about EQUAL problems and solutions;
• presentation of IT support for DPs in project management (Microsoft Project and other programs and

Ministry of Regional Development recommended the Project Management Cycle methodology but PCM was
only advised, not mandatory. European Commission guidance materials on PCM have been adapted to suit
the local needs (EQUAL PCM toolkit in Polish) as well as training materials including examples of EQUAL
projects developed with PCM methodology and templates of stakeholder analysis, problem and objective
analysis, Logframe Matrix, detailed activity schedule and budget plan. All materials were available in
electronic and printed version and were provided to all DPs, which have also the possibility to receive
individual consultations with experts on project management and PCM. Special PCM helpline was introduced
after training sessions as well as e-mail address for PCM questions and answers.

The results of the inquiry concerning the quality of DP’s support in Poland, conducted among Polish DP’s
show that the support system was well organized. To the question “How do you asses the quality of DP’s
support?” the answers were as follow; 10% - very good, 41% - good, 28% - neutrally, 20% - did not live up
expectations, 1% - very bad.

As it is shown in the Figure 1 the quality of PCM training was assessed even better; 17% of DP’s found it
very good, 63% - good, 21% - neutral. No DP answered that the training had very bad quality.

Figure 1. A quality of PCM trainings

Assess the quality of PCM trainings

75% 63%


25% 17%

Very good Good Neutral Poor / Very poor

Such a good opinions about the quality of trainings organized by Polish NSS suggest that the content of
these trainings was adequate to the needs of particular DP’s.

Trainings were focusing on:

• stakeholder analysis - concerning beneficiaries, final beneficiaries, partners, prospective

mainstreaming partners and other institutions,
• complete problem analysis,
• objective analysis – with the hierarchy of objectives and SMART criteria,
• elements of Logframe Matrix:
 project purposes, results and activities,
 objectively verifiable indicators (including “soft” indicators),
 sources of verification,
 risk analysis together with risk strategy and project assumptions,
• activity schedule with Gantt Figures and partnership responsibility,
• resource schedule and detailed budget plan.

The only remark concerning trainings was that it should be organized earlier, at the very beginning of Action
1, when all DP’s were defining theirs projects and choosing the methodology of to manage all their activities.

EQUAL – Action 1

PCM methodology wasn’t compulsory in Action 1, although it was a recommended planning standard by
National Support Structure (NSS) and Managing Authority (MA). Specialized Equal Development
Partnership’s support system was developed. This support was well assessed by Polish Partnerships (51%
of DPs found it good or very good). The system was supposed to assist DPs during Action 1, especially in
managing projects according to PCM methodology. The support was based on trainings and presentations,
consultations, electronic newsletter and set of publications. The most helpful for DPs was set of three days
PCM trainings (80% of participants assessed it as good or very good). Trainings were focused on;
stakeholder analysis, problem analysis, objective analysis, strategy analysis, Logframe Matrix, Gantt Figures
scheduling and budgeting.

The results of the inquiry indicate that PCM methodology was widely implemented by Partnerships in Poland.
97% of DPs based their project planning activities on PCM. As far as the usefulness of the methodology is
concerned, organizations of various types didn’t recognize any significant differences. There was no
distinction in the perception of PCM usefulness between participants of projects of different scope and
budget. This indicates that PCM methodology can be successfully applied in wide range of projects.

The PCM tools and techniques turned out to be very helpful. Particular elements of the methodology were
claimed to be useful or very useful. The results were analysed in percentage terms:

• stakeholder analysis – 72%
• problem analysis – 82%
• analysis of objectives – 92%
• analysis of strategies – 80%
• logical framework matrix – 92%
• Gantt Figures technique – 91%.

The PCM methodology appeared simple enough to be used by Partnerships without major experience in
managing projects.

The general perception of PCM and its usefulness was very positive, which indicates that recommending this
methodology by NSS and MA was fully justified.

EQUAL - Action 2
In August 2005, in the EQUAL planning phase, the vast majority of DPs declared application of PCM. Only
3% of responders did not plan their projects with the use of this method. In January 2007, during
implementation phase, the percentage of DPs which were using PCM was still high but significantly lower
that during planning processes. It reached 70% of the surveyed organisations. However, it is worth noticing
that at the same time 93% of organisations admitted that they were going to make use of PCM in their
upcoming projects. The results prove that PCM was more useful during planning a project that later on
during implementation phase. What is interesting, that also other methodologies were being used rather
during Action I (24%) that during Action II (16%). Therefore we can draw a conclusion that DPs put more
emphasis on planning that on implementing processes.

Further questions dealt with the use of particular PCM tools. Organisations were asked if they used them in
planning and implementing phases of their EQUAL projects and how would they assess their usefulness.
After 15 months, the perception of stakeholder analysis didn’t change much. During first survey in 2005 82%
of responders claimed stakeholder analysis was useful or even very useful. In the second survey in 2007 the
corresponding result reached 72%. The number of organisations that didn’t use stakeholder analysis had
increased from 5% in Action I to 7% in Action II.

During those 15 months the percentage of organisations that were using stakeholder analysis in EQUAL
projects had decreased by 9 points (from 88% in August 2005 to 79% in January 2007). At the same time
91% of responders declared that they want to make use of this tool in the future.

The evaluation of another Project Cycle Management tool – problem analysis – was not a subject of serious
changes. During planning phase problem analysis was assessed as at least useful by 91% of responders.
During implementation phase this result reached 86%.

The percentage of organisations which used problem analysis slightly fluctuated. 95% of responders used it
to properly plan their projects in the Action I, only 88% used it during implementation processes of Action II.
Anyway, in the second survey in January 2007 91% of surveyed organisations declared their willingness to
use problem analysis in the future.

In both surveys usefulness of analysis of objectives was assessed as very high. In August 2005 92% of
responders said it useful or very useful, in January 2007 the corresponding percentage reached 89%. In both
surveys, there was no organisation that would assess analysis of objectives as useless or completely
useless. It is the only PCM tool which got such rank.

Analysis of objectives and problem analysis were both used almost by all EQUAL DPs. During planning
phase (first survey) analysis of objectives was used by 97% of organisations and 89% used it during
implementation phase (second survey). 95% of responders wants to use it in the future, also in their internal

In case of analysis of strategies the percentage of satisfied organisations didn’t change much over the 15
months and it reached 80% in Action I and 75% in Action II.

Analysis of strategies was used in 87% of cases to support planning processes (Action I) and in 73% of
cases to implement and manage projects (Action II). At the end of the second survey great majority of

responders (95%) declared their willingness to use analysis of strategies to better manage their future

The biggest fluctuations can be observed in the percentage of responders who positively assessed logical
framework matrix. In the first survey in August 2005 this tool was evaluated as useful or very useful by 92%
of organisations. In the second survey (January 2007) this percentage had decreased by 20 points and
reached 72%. Such a significant variation can be caused by the fact that logical framework matrix was
assessed as the most difficult tool of Project Cycle Management methodology. This difficulties definitely
could influence the usefulness perception of logical framework matrix. However, you should keep in mind
that the application of logical framework matrix was still assessed positively. In the second survey in January
2007 (Action II) 89% of EQUAL organisations still wanted to use

Despite of the fact that logical framework matrix seemed to be the most complicated tool of PCM
methodology 92% of surveyed organisations used it in Action I and another 79% of responders used it in
implementation phase (Action II).

Regardless of the project phase, Gannt charts scheduling technique was always assessed very positively. In
the first survey in August 2005 91% of organisations claimed it was useful or very useful. In January 2007
(Action II) 89% of organisations sustained their opinion. 97% of EQUAL DPs wants to keep using Gantt
charts scheduling technique in the future.

The results of the both surveys indicate that the perception of PCM usefulness didn’t change a lot during
Community Initiative Programme EQUAL. Development Partnerships assessed PCM methodology, which
was recommended by Polish National Support Structure, extremely positively. While it is true that in Action I
all the PCM tools and techniques were assessed higher than in Action II, nevertheless, those differences
were never significant. We can draw a conclusion that all of the PCM tools met DPs’ expectations and

We should also emphasise that in case of any PCM tool at least 89% of Polish DP’s wanted to use it in the
future. Such great results prove best that Project Cycle Management methodology is perfect for managing
projects financed by European Union funds.

PCM was recognised as a valuable tool for managing projects under EQUAL EU Initiative in Poland:

• very useful tool on applying stakeholder analysis and evaluating its usefulness. It was strongly
emphasised that every project requires that stakeholders be identified and defined and that PCM
methodology was useful. Participants observed that this tool was more useful for projects
implemented by consortia, than it is for projects implemented by individual organisations.
Stakeholder analysis should be updated during the implementation stage.
• partnership representatives reaffirmed the high regard for PCM on applying problem analysis and
evaluating its usefulness. It was remarked that problem analysis was most effective when large
groups of people from different circles participated.
• useful on applying analysis and selection of strategies and evaluating its usefulness (but used
less frequently than problem analysis goal analysis). It may be due to it being used subconsciously
during the earlier stage of project planning. The strategy takes shape to a large extent
independently and is only clearly defined during the implementation stage when the project is
actually being realized.
• partnerships expressed very positive opinions on the usefulness of the logical matrix. The logical
matrix forces all areas of the project to be taken into consideration. Matrix is useful for identifying
potential risks, maintenance of logical relationships between project levels, checking, monitoring and
evaluating project tasks and drawing up periodic reports. It is good to develop a logical matrix a few
month after the implementation stage in order to verify that no major elements had been left out. The
tool requires proper preparation, knowledge and experience. It was suggested to publish a detailed
study on the tool.
• scheduling was considered a basic technique for ensuring project continuity in case of project team
members, especially project manger, being rotated.


5.1 The PCM consolidation phase

The current ESF Programming Period seems to be offering an excellent opportunity to transfer and
consolidate the PCM method and related experiences into mainstream policies. As matter of fact, already in
this early stage of the Programming Period, a number of Managing Authorities have taken concrete steps to
incorporate this methodology’s key principles and tools in their respective OPs.

The striking feature in the transition from the EQUAL Initiative to the 2007-2013 ESF Programming Period is
that a significant quality leap forward seems to be taking place. While in EQUAL PCM was primarily used at
project level in eight Member States, several Member States have made a strategic choice to adopt it at
Programme level. This is not surprising if one takes into account the fact that the ESF Regulation places
great emphasis on sound programme planning (see section 1.1) and that evidence from EQUAL shows that
PCM can significantly contribute to plan and deliver sound programmes and interventions. Granted a variety
of national approaches, all these MAs decided to apply the PCM methodology widely, and adopt its principles
into the current ESF Programmes. In one case (Lithuania) its application has been extended to all Structural
Funds programmes.

Due to the far wider scope of the ESF-funded operations (compared to EQUAL) and sheer number of
applicants to be reached out to, these MAs adjusted the provision of PCM-based services to the new
operating conditions. In two cases (French and German speaking Belgium and Lithuania) MAs are
offering PCM training or online self-training courses, publication on PCM and dedicated newsletters together
with PCM based application packages (application forms and supporting tools such as applicant’s guide,
updated to reflect the priorities of the new ESF Programme). In one case (Piedmont Region) the PCM
principles and tools (such as participative planning workshops) have been adopted, by the MA with the active
participation of representatives of the social, employment, training and health sectors, to provide specific
regional guidelines to be implemented in the employment policies programme planning and identify
interventions, addressed to specific target groups, to be included in the Regional OP. In Poland, the Ministry
of Regional Development recommends using the PCM methodology in the Operational Programme Human
Resources while the system of management of the ESF is going to be changed in order to undertake
numerous initiatives aimed at improving the standards of project management. Therefore, an important role
is going to be played by the managing institution and the intermediary and supporting institutions, such as
Regional Centres of the European Social Fund, which will disseminate the knowledge concerning project
cycle management amongst project managers. Professional support has been planned both for the
institutions managing the Human Capital Operational Programme (PO KL) and projects managers. Long-
term training actions are planned, comprising various forms of support, workshops and studies of particular
cases of application of the methodology, taking into account training needs of particular types of institutions.

Last but not least, we can say the a significant contribution to the PCM consolidation phase has been provide
by the European Community of Practice (CoP) on “Sound Planning and Management”
(www.soundplanning.eu) where special attention has been dedicated to mainstreaming the PCM
method. The CoP, coordinated by the Italian MA in co-operation with Poland and French-speaking Belgium,
aims at:

• making ESF Programme designers aware of advantages of sound planning and management, in
particular of Project Cycle Management (PCM),
• demonstrating a suitable and feasible delivery system for using sound planning and management
tools, in particular PCM, for implementing ESF programmes and
• promoting new competencies and abilities amongst ESF programme implementers in order to set up
sustainable implementation systems in their Member States, ensuring consistency with the new ESF
principles (Participation of stakeholders; Coherence, and Model of managing change).

In order to reach this objectives, the CoP delivered three main activities addressed to the above mentioned
target group:
• three showcasing workshops on practical experience of using PCM at Programme and project level
(BEfrg, Poland and Italy), originally planned for a number of 20 participants, while the final total
number was of 212 participants;

• blended training activities on PCM (three face to face and online training courses), including a
Summer School in Cagliari, Sardinia with 61 participants;
• creation and management of a online collaborative environment, the CoP. A total of 252 people have
become members to this open space Blog-based, designed to a participative logic, at the aim to
share information, experiences (through discussion tools as thematic Fora), documents and freely
express ideas, doubts and knowledge concerning suitable planning and management method, with
specific reference to the PCM approach.

5.2 PCM in the 2007- 2013 ESF Programming Period in French and German-speaking Belgium

Why PCM was introduced

On the basis of the results yielded by various satisfaction tests and evaluations, the Managing Authorities
and the ESF Agency concluded that the PCM approach could accelerate the decision-making process and
clarify the role and obligations of all partners in pursuing a common objective. They therefore decided to
apply the PCM methodology widely, and incorporate its principles into the 2007-2013 European Social Fund

This represented a challenge, as most perspective applicants had never signed up formally to such a
demanding management process as that used in EQUAL. To do this, they discovered a management
methodology that is as new as it is rigorous and flexible.

Given that project proposals retention was closely related to using the PCM principles in preparing the
application forms, applicants were introduced to the PCM methodology during presentation sessions of the
2007-2013 ESF Operational Programmes carried out by the Minister-President of the Walloon Region, the
MA of the European programmes, and the European Social Fund Agency.

As for the launch of EQUAL Round 2, the ESF Agency pointed out that the implementation of a project
management methodology such as PCM required strong methodological support.

How PCM was introduced and will be implemented

In view of the specific requirements of the new ESF programme, the methodological assistance was
reconsidered. With a project portfolio comprising several hundreds projects, monitoring - as in EQUAL
Round 2 - required mobilising considerable human and financial resources, which was not feasible in regions
like Wallonia and Brussels-Capital.

Therefore, the ESF Agency decided to rely on self-training and provided an online training course (originally
developed by ISFOL - the Italian Equal National Support Structure - in the French language. The brochure
"Project Cycle Management explained to project promoters (or "PCM made easy") was circulated widely, and
also published on the site of the ESF Agency. The ESF Agency newsletter also published a table setting out
the main principles of the methodology on a pull-out page.

The principles of PCM were integrated into the key documents for the new programme, both in the
application forms and in the support tools, such as the applicant's guide, updated to reflect the priorities of
the new programme of the European Social Fund, and in general, any project relating to human resources.

The application forms incorporated the principles of PCM. Two different applications forms have been
designed; the application process takes place in two stages. The former consists of a slimmed-down version
of PCM. This application is subject to a decision by a group of experts (task force) and the competent
authorities. If the project proposal is retained, based on the report of the task force, the applicant is required
to complete a new, detailed application form which covers all the elements of the PCM methodology.

To ensure efficient monitoring of the retained projects, all the staff of the ESF Agency (including the
management) were trained in PCM. Upon completion of the selection of the new 2007-2013 projects , they
will receive additional coaching, based on real examples, coming from the approved projects. Training in the
PCM methodology is strongly recommended and, is treated as an eligible cost in the new programme.

In the context of the European Community of Practice on PCM (www.soundplanning.eu) coordinated by the
Italian MA in co-operation with Poland and French-speaking Belgium, the European Social Fund Agency

organised a peer review in Brussels on 22 November 2006. Mainstreaming of the PCM methodology has
been carried out by the German-speaking colleagues who will use PCM in the 2007-2013 ESF programme.

In EQUAL, the PCM method has allowed to: promote a dialogue to be established between stakeholders
(beneficiaries, operators, decision-makers, donors of funds); provide working tools for identifying problems,
needs, players, stakeholders, hypotheses, risks and actions to be taken; ensure that a collective reflection is
structured around the project, and create a shared vision of the project; contribute to focusing on the
problems to be solved, in order to eliminate their causes with appropriate activities, in order to attain the
desired objectives and make the implementation and planning of activities and resources, and project
monitoring and evaluation effective.

Without a doubt, the PCM method will be applied on a large scale in the 2007-2013 programme, and will
create as much enthusiasm as in the EQUAL Programme.

The ESF Agency will continue taking stock of the good practices derived from the projects, its own
administrative tasks, which are increasingly part of the process of seeking quality initiated within the Ministry
of the French-speaking Community and the process of exploiting the most remarkable products, such as the
validation methodology developed in EQUAL, which will be applied to the newly funded ESF projects.

These new experiences will enable the regional and community competent authorities to improve their grasp
of PCM, and ensure that the method will be used in the long term in future ESF programmes.

For further information:

Ms. Jenny Charlier

Agence FSE
111, Chaussée de Charleroi
B-1060 Bruxelles

Phone: +32 2 234 39 70

Fax: +32 2 234 39 96

e-mail: jenny.charlier@fse.be
web: www.fse.be

5.3 Using the PCM methodology in the Piedmont Region Experience

The PCM methodology was applied in the Piedmont Region within the context of the EQUAL Community
Initiative in order to solve some recurrent problems in the project proposals: insufficient involvement of the
beneficiaries, poor identification of the problems, incoherent objectives in respect to the identified problems,
confusion between objectives and action, non-measurable results (see paragraph 2.3.3). To this end, the
Region created a TA Unit in order to support projects and assist them in using the methodology, that was
unknown to the great majority of the project managers. This support system has been promoted in 2007-
2013 ESF Regional Operational Programme (OP) in order to transfer innovative experiences into
mainstream policies.

The involvement of final beneficiaries throughout the project life cycle has proven to be crucial for projects
successful outcome. On one hand, project promoters were aware of the importance of involving the so-
called “intermediate beneficiaries”, who had previously been involved in projects not only as key actors, but
also as partnership members; on the other hand, to a lesser extent, they believed that projects are unable to
yield benefits to its beneficiaries, unless the beneficiaries’ actual problems are identified from the beginning.
This was the lesson learned from the EQUAL experience for the 2007-2013 ESF Programme planning.

Perspectives in the ESF Programming Period

In order to mainstream the results of EQUAL within the context of the Structural Funds strategies, efforts
have concentrated on harmonizing the interventions in a prospective of “governance” and on transferring the
innovation tested in EQUAL into the new Regional OP and other relevant programming documents.

In the month of December 2007 the Piedmont Region began drawing up the so-called “Regional
Implementation Tool” connected with its OP which describes the allocation of ESF resources for employment
policies to specific categories of beneficiaries and the action areas which the social partners and the
Provinces have identified as priority. It was therefore important that the OP’s activities – associated with
each specific objective - would be linked to the Region’s priorities and that they would be clearly
distinguished on the basis of the specific needs of the different categories of the beneficiaries.

The needs analysis of the most vulnerable target groups (that will lead to identifying genuinely relevant
interventions, that is actions which effectively address the real needs of the final beneficiaries) has been
completed by adopting a set of PCM tools and methodologies which had been successfully tested in EQUAL
Round 2. Their key features include:

• The central role the beneficiaries in the planning process;

• The participative approach sustained by directly involving and empowering the stakeholders in order
to improve the governance of the systems;
• The identification of the beneficiaries’ problems as a starting point for the analysis of the local
• The identification of sound objectives able to improve the living conditions of the final beneficiaries,
• The definition of measurable indicators to evaluate project performance;
• The identification of clear areas of intervention.

In order to deliver what has been described above, the Employment Sector of the Piedmont Region has
adopted an innovative participative approach based on key PCM tools - primarily participative workshops
dedicated to specific target groups - to identify the beneficiaries’ problems and the matching objectives
(improved living conditions).

This process started from an experiment launched in the years 2004-2006. Following the decisions of the
Regional Committee, integrated groups have been organize composed of various members of the regional
sectors that address specific target groups; their aim is to improve the employment policy programme
planning. These working groups have involved representatives of the social, employment, training and
health sectors.

In keeping with the PCM principles, these integrated groups have directly involved the final beneficiaries; in
so doing, they have been assisted by experts, assuming that only the representative organizations of the
beneficiaries can provide relevant indications on the specific problems of disadvantaged groups.

In some programming documents the Region has given indications as long as these integrated groups are
created also at provincial level; the Region, therefore, offered its help to set up these groups in the various

At a regional level, integrated groups have been created on two specific target groups affected by multi-
dimensional problems, namely: disabled people and offenders. Their output was a set of guidelines that the
Region will submit to the attention of the institutional actors within the Region, the Provinces, and to national
and European level players.

In late 2007 several focus groups have been organised on specific sub-groups (offenders, migrants,
substance abusers, mentally disable and visually impaired) using PCM in order to collect useful elements for
the 2007-2013 Programming Period. An assessment of the these groups’ organizational modalities was
carried out on the above target groups. Some meeting with the regional integrated groups have been held
with the active participation of the final beneficiaries’ representatives and experts operating at Province level.

The purpose of this participative planning approach is to:

• provide specific regional guidelines to be adopted in the employment policies programme planning;
• identify interventions to be included in the Regional OP.

A first focus group was organized with the active participation of key actors, operators and experts on
specific disadvantaged groups in order to provide advice on the condition of the final beneficiaries. These
focus groups were organised taking into account the following key PCM concepts and tools:

1. Involvement of the final beneficiaries and problem identification

The identification of the problems, when properly carried out, provides a realistic description of the area to
be dealt with reference to the final beneficiaries’ present living conditions and “photographs” the
problematic situation as directly described by the stakeholders.

2. Objective Analysis
The objective represents a positive situation to be reached. The Objective Analysis consists in
reformulating a negative situation (the problem) into an improved future situation (the objective), which is
consistent with the originally identified problem. The objectives have to be considered as the reformulation
of negative situation in a positive way - and, only subsequently, can the actions to be carried out be
described (this avoids confusion between objectives and actions).

3. Measurable results
The improvements of the conditions of the beneficiaries and the proper functioning of the systems should
be objectively demonstrated.

Special attention was therefore given to involving representatives of the final beneficiaries who were indeed
able to express the actual problems of the beneficiaries. These meetings’ objective was ensuring that the
new regional OP: a) would allocate adequate resources in order to create relevant services b) provide
guidelines to design tailor-made interventions. The underlying philosophy is that it is all-important to promote
the active participation of each specific target group, for they are real witnesses of their specific problems
and disadvantaged people cannot be treated as a single, monolithic group.

The Region considers the active role of the beneficiaries a key success factor when planning complex
interventions. Adopting such prospective permits to: deliver tailor-made pathways stimulate cross-fertilization
(training, social, and healthcare policies), thus using ESF resources more effectively and efficiently.

The process of identifying the different target groups’ needs will go through the following steps:

• identification of problems and objectives (using PCM-based tools);

• definition of the average costs of the identified services;
• identification of the resources available from different financial tools (first of all from the ESF 2007-
2013 OP), on the basis of the priorities indicated by the competent Sectors.

The process will take into account the results of the discussion with the institutional actors (local bodies) and
the social partners. On this basis the discussion will be developed:

• with the social partners in respect to the identified priorities;

• with the Provinces in order to fine-tune the interventions that will be formally approved by Region’s
executive body.

Based on the Region’s experience, defining functional management standards able of ensuring the success
of an initiative seems difficult. The Piedmont Region set up a PCM-based support service which assisted
both projects and the Region on an on-going basis. These strategic choices proved to be effective, when
reviewing the positive impact on the projects’ outcomes.

At the same time Piedmont’s experience suggests a new way of conceiving the role of the Managing
Authority, doing away with the a mere administrative programme manager or supervisor role. Managing
Authorities do indeed have an opportunity to support the delivery of truly effective and useful projects -
directly or through a dedicated TA support service - by adopting PCM-based concepts and tools. In so doing,
a far wiser use of EU funds and tax payers’ money can be ensured.

For further information:

Mr. Concetto Maugeri

Regione Piemonte
Direzione Istruzione, Formazione Professionale e Lavoro
Settore Servizi alle Politiche per l'occupazione e per la promozione dello sviluppo locale
e-mail: concetto.maugeri@regione.piemonte.it; assistenza.equal@regione.piemonte.it

web: http://www.regione.piemonte.it/lavoro/equal/index.htm

5.4 PCM implementation in Lithuania

As a new Member State of the EU, Lithuania saw in the EU Structural funds real opportunities to support
national investments and to achieve one of the major goals of the EU, i.e. economy and social cohesion
development. The support provided by the EU Structural funds attracts a great deal of attention nowadays;
at the same time a growing concern to ensure high-quality project preparation and implementation processes
can be detected.

Inspired by the experience of other Member States, Lithuania applies PCM in order to ensure high-quality
project management and coherent implementation processes and to achieve the objectives set. The PCM
method is used not only in the national ESF application form for the EU support, but also in other EU
programmes and clearly is described in methodological publications, as well as during regular informative
seminars organised for persons responsible for project planning and implementation.

Lithuania is one of the “pilot” countries to systematically apply PCM methods. Proper administration of the
EU Structural funds is essential to ensure high-quality implementation of projects prepared to solve issues of
target groups and to add value. The PCM method and tools are designed to achieve these objectives.
During the preparation of projects it is necessary to follow the main PCM principles, i.e. choice of proper
programme priorities, identification of the project idea, its main issues and opportunities, definition of the
target group and its problems, choice of the most effective way (strategy) to solve the identified problems,
preparation (completion) of an application form, evaluation of activities implemented and results achieved
during the implementation of a project. The Lithuanian applications form includes all those principles. It
contains separate sections for project rationale, description of the target group identification process, project
objectives, tasks and activities identification (Logframe, activity planning), achievements and results tables,
budget and expenditure planning. Thus, though PCM may not seem a widely used planning standard among
applicants and project managers, the process itself is implemented in compliance with the above mentioned

PCM services provided

Having achieved successful results and efficient PCM application under EQUAL(see Lithuanian Self-
assessment report on http://soundplanning.esflive.eu/node/237), the Support Foundation European Social
Fund Agency is publicly promoting the PCM method in the 2007-2013 Programming Period. In order to help
project managers and future applicants to properly prepare and implement a project supported by the EU
Structural Funds, in 2007 the Support Foundation European Social Fund Agency issued a publication
“Project Cycle Management – Five Stages to Improve Your Project Quality”. Its main aim is to introduce
PCM as a very convenient and widely applied project management method to project managers and
applicants. The publication presents PCM as a widely known and applied method in the “old” Member
States. Though it is just a recommended tool, the publication provides answers to the vast range of
questions project managers may have during project planning.

As of 2008 the European Social Fund Agency will organise PCM training courses for applicants. The
courses are expected to ensure high-quality project preparation and to help avoid the mistakes made during
the application of the 2004-2006 Single Programming Document (SPD). A description of the training courses
module is provided in the table below:

Table 1. “PCM Training Courses – how to prepare a high-quality ESF project”

Courses for applicants

Course Common objective: to provide future applicants with information and skills to
objectives properly prepare a project for the ESF support.

Specific objectives:

 to present the fundamental aspects of the 2007-2013 strategy which are

related to specific competence of participants (education, social aspects, etc.)
to present the concept of a project cycle management
to provide information through the implementation of the following exercises:
identification of project target group’s problems; definition of objectives and
purpose of a project, its Logframe; project planning; project budget planning

to provide other relevant information for the preparation of ESF projects

(project management, formation of management groups, links to other relevant
and useful information and consultations on application forms, application
submission dates, etc.)
Sections of the 2007-2013 Strategy related to participants:
Fundamental differences between the 2007-2013 Strategy and the 2004-2006 SPD

Peculiarities of a ESF project and common criteria:

Project selection – assessment criteria and priority criteria (presentation of assessment tables with
clarifications on how many points are given to certain aspects, thus identifying priorities)
(discussion of the experience of the 2004-2006 SPD and the ongoing changes). Discussion of
mistakes made in applications in previous project proposals with further comments on the most
frequent applicants’ mistakes (failure to motivate a project relevance, inconsistent cause/effect
links, non-feasible activity plans).

Project concept, cycle management

A brief discussion about the concept of a project. Participants are encouraged to speak about the
projects they have participated in, managed or prepared and the problems they encountered.
Presentation of all PCM stages.
a) Project relevance, identification of a problem
This section focuses on the relevance of a project (problem tree analysis), underlying one of the
major project identification mistakes, i.e. failure to motivate a project. A great deal of attention is
paid to section B of the application form requiring applicants to explain why a project is needed
(relevant) and its compliance with the specific problems of the target group.
b) Definition of project objectives. The Logframe of a project, its completion and importance. The
purpose of the exercise is to help applicants to better understand the different levels of objectives
(Overall Objectives, Project Purpose, Results) and how to properly complete a Logical Framework
matrix table.

Exercises in subgroups on Logframes: Implementation; Presentation, discussion.

c) c) Project activity planning. Going back to the discussion of the project cycle and the application
form with further illustrations of how and where the activity plan should be included. All those
discussions are related to Logframes with further explanations of how to push the activities in the
right direction in order to achieve the results set and to ensure that the results are considered to be
the outcome of the previously planned activities. Participants are also reminded that one of the
most frequent mistakes is impossible and vague activity planning. They are also provided with
further explanations on how to properly fill in an activity plan (illustrating a table in the application


d) The ESF budget. Presentation of an ESF budget form and its completion.

e) Abilities to manage a project, human resources. Project monitoring, its tools and the
implementation process.

As it has been mentioned before, PCM training courses for future applicants are scheduled in 2008 in
Lithuania. Courses are expected to help future applicants to properly prepare a project and ensure practical
application of the PCM method. The results of the training courses will be assessed only after first project
proposals are received. However, it is noteworthy that PCM is widely and successfully applied by all the
institutions responsible for the management of the EU structural funding in Lithuania.

For further information:

Support Foundation European Social Fund Agency

Mrs. Indrija Aškelovičienė

Address Gynėjų str. 16, LT – 01109, Vilnius, Lithuania

e-mail : indrija.askeloviciene@esf.lt


5.5 Using the PCM methodology in the 2007-2013 ESF Programmimg Period in Poland

In the previous period of programming (2004–2006), shortcomings in the management of projects were
frequently highlighted, both on the part of projects executors as well as the officers of implementing
institutions. This was a result of insufficient knowledge and lack of experience of various institutions, but also
an inadequate support in this respect. Moreover, it was emphasized that the application procedures for EU
funds and those for their utilisation were excessively complex. To make the process of EU absorptions in the
new period of funds programming run smoothly and influence social development of the country, the Ministry
of Regional Development is introducing changes in the system of management of the ESF, and is
undertaking numerous initiatives aimed at improving the standards of project management. Popularization of
the PCM methodology, which is to be recommended by the ministry, will facilitate solving many problematic
issues in the area of management of the EFS-financed projects. Once the implementing and managing
institutions, as well as the beneficiaries themselves, adopt the same standard, their mutual communication
will be easier and simplification of the management system will become a possibility. The approach to
planning applied in PCM, assuming active participation of the most important groups of stakeholders, will
allow for a better diagnosis of needs, while the well-thought-out logic of intervention will make fulfilling these
needs in an efficient and effective manner possible. Aim orientation, in turn, will give us a chance to focus on
a long-term social change.

The current level of knowledge and skills related to the application of the PCM methodology in Poland is still
quite low, both amongst the potential beneficiaries as well as the managing and implementing institutions –
and quite often amongst the experts too. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to ensure a professional and
easily available support in the form of training sessions and consultancy and to create diverse resources of
knowledge and information.

In the current period of programming, the Ministry of Regional Development recommends using the PCM
methodology recommended by the European Commission in the Operational Programme Human
Resources. The Prince 2 methodology is also popular in Poland, and some projects executors want to apply
it to their actions in whole – groundlessly, as it frequently proves. In fact, this is similar to PCM. However, it is
not necessary to apply whole methodology but only some of its tools instead.

An important role of the managing institution and the intermediary and supporting institutions, such as
Regional Centres of the European Social Fund, will consist not only in informing about and promoting the
project, but also in presenting in detail its essence and logic related thereto, as well as in disseminating the
knowledge concerning the project cycle management amongst project originators.

The first step taken by the ministry was the preparation of an application form (covering some of the PCM
methodology elements). There were also plenty of discussions concerning, for instance, the grounds for
obligatory introduction of the logical matrix of the project. As it turned out, Polish intermediary institutions
should first undergo proper preparations before introducing this tool. The knowledge of the PCM
methodology might be advisable already at the stage of evaluation of competition applications, yet
intermediary institutions do not have suitable competences in this respect.

The plans provide for organising professional support for both the institutions managing the Human Capital
Operational Programme (PO KL) and for projects executors. There will be cycles of trainings in project
management, and the assumptions include a need for a clear direction of the training process. One-day
courses limited merely to the transfer of knowledge on the existence of project management methodology
are not sufficient anymore. Long-term training actions are planned, comprising various forms of support,
workshops and studies of particular cases of application of the methodology, taking into account training
needs of particular types of institutions.

Poland is to undergo reorganization of Regional Centres of the European Social Fund, operating within the
framework of the Polish Centre of the European Social Fund, hitherto responsible for providing training
support to institutions executing the projects. The Ministry of Regional Development is also going to change
its function. Similarly, many technical activities, such as issuance of publications or conduct of tenders are to
be abandoned. The emphasis will be put on conceptual works instead, as well as on creation of new
mechanisms, tools and standards.

Studies on PCM published in Poland so far failed to mention any common standard or to create uniform
terminology in the scope of project cycle management. The terminology used in previous studies, such as
the manual of the European Commission concerning PCM (of 2001), published in 2004, diverges in other
publications devoted PCM. In 2007, a manual concerning soft project management and addressed to the
beneficiaries, was published (over 100 000 copies were distributed). It turned out that there is a huge need
for intelligible knowledge on project management. The Ministry of Regional Development is going to update
this manual, paying attention to the Human Capital Operational Programme and extend it with several new


6.1 Main effects and advantages of using PCM in ESF

The PCM pilot experience conducted during the 2000-2006 Programming Period as part of the EQUAL
Initiative in Structural Funds management clearly showed significant positive aspects as regards the quality
of the planning and of the operations carried out by the Managing Authorities of the various Member States.

At project level, the Managing Authorities that adopted the method were able to point to the following
positive impacts:

• the multiple tools offered by the methodology (GOPP workshop; standard programming matrix, etc.)
facilitate consistent implementation of the various phases of participative programming, monitoring
and evaluation of projects;
• the goal-oriented programming approach, with objectives fixed on the basis of the identification of
the real problems in a given context (project relevance), makes it possible to continuously finetune
activity planning in the project implementation phase. In the planning phase, the individual project
approach helps to ensure that only those activities deemed necessary to achieve the objectives are
included in the interventions;
• the positive effect of the active involvement of the various stakeholders participating in the process
effectively reduces design problems of the planning strategy; it also reduces problems concerning
the division of responsibilities and those related to the allocation of resources, at the same time,
institutional and personal problems within the planning partnerships are curbed. The sense of
‘ownership by key players even prompted some organizations to earmark a portion of their resources
for other partner organizations or to recommend new, more suitable organizations for achieving the
• the method substantially facilitates the formulation of consistent project strategies, developed on a
collaborative basis by the various stakeholders through the use of a structured approach to
programming and through use of specific tools such as the Logical Framework. Consideration of
non-planning factors and of potential risk factors leads to consistency with other projects starting with
the planning phase;
• the effectiveness of the projects is guaranteed by the direct link between the problems identified and
the planning objectives and by the use of quality assurance criteria provided in the Logical
Framework Matrix;
• project sustainability is enhanced by the adoption of the participative planning process – based on
the real and pressing needs of a given area – and by taking risk factors into consideration from the
initial phase, as well as by the inclusion of the major policy actors to ensure adequate political
support. In addition, participative planning identifies at the outset the organizations most suited to
assure lasting benefits upon completion of the project activities;
• the method can be successfully employed for projects of various scales and budgets and for projects
embracing diverse partner categories. For this reason, the method appears to be readily applicable
in a variety of contexts.

At programming level, the advantages offered by the methodology to the Managing Authorities include:

• at regional level a collective learning process comes into play when the method is used starting with
the programming phase. This is reflected in the creation of stable relations built on cooperation and
trust among the socio-economic players active in the region and in the creation of more structured
and more transparent programming modes, formulated in cooperation with the Managing Authority;
• easier selection of quality projects (relevant, logically consistent and potentially sustainable) and,
especially, in identification of the ‘leaps in logic’ in planning that gave rise to requests for modification
of project proposals;
• more effective and more accurate analysis of the soundness of proposals and of programme
objectives (beyond their feasibility and consistency) and more effective processes for comparing and
analysing the various proposals, which is simplified thanks to the common approach offered by the
Logical Framework. That approach has produced significant savings in time and resources;

• simplified data gathering methods for project monitoring and evaluation : the use by project
managers of these methodologies through the entire life cycle of the project makes better quality
data more readily available for programme monitoring and evaluation purposes;

• simplified communications between the Managing Authority and the organizations sponsoring the
projects, thanks to the use of a common planning and management language. Indeed, the Logical
Framework Matrix employs a specific terminology that is internationally recognized and that
facilitates communication between the various key players operating at programme and project level.
Better communication is also achieved among the various players that constitute the project
partnerships. In addition, PCM renders the criteria applied in the diverse phases of the project life
cycle – especially those employed in the proposal selection process –clearer and more transparent,
making it possible for them to be shared by the various players involved. Sharing of a common
language and using common tools assist the Managing Authorities, the Technical Assistance units
and the Independent Evaluators in their ordinary activities (evaluation of project proposals, thematic
networking, and the mainstreaming of sound practices and procedures);
• successful integration of the gender mainstreaming dimension in PCM methodology (witnessed by
the case of French-speaking Belgium) makes it possible to take into due consideration aspects
gender-related issues of in every phase of the project’s life cycle, from the initial conception to final
evaluation, as well as retrospectively.

6.2 The conditions required for effective use of the method

The advantages described have been experienced in the various Member States when certain
prerequisites have been met. The various countries have, in fact, encountered a number of obstacles,
described below. To overcome these obstacles, targeted strategies were adopted.

First of all, it was essential that there be a strong commitment on the part of the Managing Authority,
combined with a new conception of its role, not as a mere administrative manager of the programme. By
adopting PCM concepts and tools, the Managing Authority is in a position to support the implementation of
truly effective and useful projects, either directly or via dedicated technical assistance support services. In
this way, it is possible to contribute actively to the optimum use of both Community resources and of the
public funding made available by the programmes. It was essential, therefore, that the Managing Authority
be equipped with new services and structures to provide support for quality planning. The approach
adopted varied: in certain cases technical assistance units were created that provided consultancy services
for methodology planning; in other cases, help-desks were created that offered customised consultancy

Such individual project consultancy activity was bolstered by intense training activity for both programme and
project managers. In fact, it became necessary to launch a ‘capacity building’ programme to strengthen the
knowledge and skills of Managing Authority staff responsible for programme management. In addition, the
technical assistance units had their methodological capabilities enhanced through ad hoc training initiatives.
In all the countries analysed (French-speaking Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, and Poland), training initiatives were
required for project managers as a team. The training was conducted either by face-to-face training or by
online PCM training, as well as by the publication of manuals dedicated to use of the method and the use of
toolkits developed at Community level. In Lithuania, PCM training for project managers was deemed
essential in the 2007-2013 Programming Period in order to promote quality planning not only within the ESF,
but also for all programmes financed by the EU.

The customised consultancy services, the face-to-face and online training, and the manuals and
publications produced to facilitate the learning and application of PCM skills – all were developed to
overcome certain obstacles encountered in the use of the methodology. An initial obstacle was the
complexity of the methodology itself, reflecting the wealth of concepts and tools offered by the methodology.
That complexity made difficult the immediate utilization of the method by project managers who had little or
no experience in PCM. A second obstacle was the limited ability of the methodology to provide adequate
project management tools. In that respect, the strategy adopted was to integrate PCM with other project
management support tools.

Strong political support is a key prerequisite to activating the process of renewing the services offered by the
Managing Authority, directly and through dedicated TA units. The experience of the various countries has

been characterized by a clear choice by policy makers in favour of the use of the methodology and of the
support services necessary to guarantee its optimum use. This requires a strong conviction of the
advantages and of the added value offered by PCM at programme and project level. This awareness and
strategic vision justify endorsing the use of the methodology, despite the significant investment required in
terms of economic resources and time.

On the basis of the experience gained in the various Member States, it is clear that PCM can effectively
contribute to putting into practice the principles of good governance found in the ESF Regulations and in
other Community documents. Adopting the methodology has in fact contributed to:

• facilitating consistent and more strategic programming and planning;

• promoting the active involvement of the key players in the initial phase of the project programming
and planning process, including institutional capability building of the organizations that have a key
role in programme and project formulation and implementation (Managing Authorities, Technical
Assistance Providers, etc.);
• planning programme implementation thta ensures high quality projects;
• ensuring an effective monitoring and evaluation system of project and programme.

As illustrastred in the previous paragraphs, practical implementation of the diverse principles has been
achieved, through diverse approaches that nonetheless share the same basic assumptions as regards the
application of the methodology.

It is clear that the Managing Authority, in adopting PCM concepts and tools, acquires the capability of
implementing truly effective and useful projects. In this way, programme manager can actively contribute to
the optimum utilization of both Community resources and of the public funding made available by the


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