Programme transition planning

The detailed programme transition plan should list the activities that are required to transition the grant and the timeline.

It should include the following:

  • all activities needed for transitioning the grant management from UNDP to one or more national entities
  • if the transition plan is integrated with a capacity development plan, details of the capacity milestones to be achieved that will allow transition of specific activities or full functions to sustainable country systems
  • risk mitigation activities to improve resilience of systems and to minimize the risk of moving services, in particular to avoid disruptions in treatment

The process for programme transition planning

Confirm the timing of transition planning

Transition planning should ideally be conducted at the beginning of a grant with the identification of a future national organization at the same time as capacity development planning. In this way, selected capacity development planning milestones become transition “triggers” for certain functions.

Organize the transition planning process

Link with capacity development planning as appropriate, and confirm the approach for planning, including key responsibilities, scheduling, reviews required, and partner involvement.

Set up management arrangements

Transition is owned both by the new national organization and by UNDP; each will need to have effective management arrangements in place to jointly control and coordinate transition activities.

Identify milestone indicators, transition scheduling, and risks

Based on the capacity development plan, identify milestone indicators for transition, scheduling for transition of selected functions, and risks to be managed.

Develop an estimated budget

Detail budget requirements for transitioning functions, including, for example, file transfers, data conversion, mentoring, duplicate reporting runs, quality assurance reviews, etc.

Conduct integrated reviews

Review the transition plan and budgets with senior management, functional managers, and stakeholders to finalize, approve, and gain support.

Move toward implementation

Confirm approach, responsibilities, oversight structures and funding required to initiate and implement the transition plan.

Activities to be included in the programme transition plan

The main activities to be included in a transition plan involve recruiting (if required) and training the staff who will manage the grant in the future organization, as well as ensuring clear policies and procedures in all operational areas, and training and adherence to these procedures by all staff.
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The focus should be on:

  • establishing and staffing a dedicated department or a cross department unit that will manage the grant in the future organization
  • development of operations manuals and SOPs covering all aspects of grant implementation such as finance, reporting, asset management, procurement, etc.
  • ensuring the new grant manager has suitable software to manage finances, to collect and verify data, and to ensure a functioning LMIS which meets national requirements
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When preparing the transition plan, the outgoing and incoming grant managers should clearly identify their respective responsibilities with respect to outstanding contractual commitments, implementing partner agreements, etc. including:

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  • Staff Contracts: The new grant manager may want to keep experienced staff and will need to transfer their contracts to the incoming Principal Recipient.
  • Contracts with pending delivery of goods: If the outgoing grant manager has contracts for the procurement of goods, which have not been delivered yet, they will remain responsible for receiving and transferring the goods. Arrangements should be put in place jointly with the new grant manager to ensure that goods are received and transferred.
  • Programme records: The outgoing grant manager must provide the incoming one with full access to the programmatic and financial records for the grant. Arrangements should be made to ensure that all key programme information is communicated to the new grant manager to allow them continued access to the records.
  • Implementing partner agreements: For partners who will continue implementing programme activities under the new grant manager, it is essential that there is no interruption in their contracts during the transfer. The outgoing and incoming grant manager need to coordinate this, either through a transfer or assignment for the new recipient, or a simultaneous termination with execution on an agreed date.

Setting up a new programme management unit

The new grant manager will need to outline the implementation structure for managing the grant early in the transition plan, to ensure clear roles and responsibilities, and to enable the timely recruitment and training of key positions in the national entity to support a smooth transition.

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Ideally, to strengthen the national systems, the grant management should be integrated within the existing national structure and systems. However, with a new grant some countries decide to set up a dedicated programme management unit (PMU) to manage the grant in its early stages during and after transition. A dedicated PMU can ensure a clear focus on the new grant activities and help to support a smooth transition, but setting up a PMU, particularly within national ministries of health, can create parallel systems for managing different donor grants.

Factors to consider when deciding on the new structure:

  • what roles are required to manage the grant?
  • can these sit within the current organisation structure?
  • if a PMU is to be set up. how will the staff liaise with their full departments: for example, how will the M&E officer within the PMU liaise with the overall health information system team to share information and to strengthen systems?
  • can staff working within the old grant management organization be transferred to the new grant management unit to ensure transfer of skills and institutional knowledge?
  • should the new PMU be set up to manage the grant during transition and then for the first one/two years of the grant before being integrated within the full organization?

Terminology: milestones
Milestones are tools used in the transition plan and its review to mark specific points along a project timeline.
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These points signal that certain capacity has been achieved, showing that the national entity is fully prepared to take responsibility for that activity or area. Although timelines should be set to achieve these milestones, they can be flexible.

The first transition milestone in each operational area is usually to put in place procedures, and systems, with sufficient training and “on the job” support to meet donor requirements. The second milestone for each functional area will then measure the level of use of the systems. For example, following the development of new financial reporting templates, the second milestone measures the percentage of provincial medical departments submitting financial reports on time using the new templates.

Key resources