Elaborating an action plan


As discussed previously, comprehensive planning is crucial to success. Setting clear and reasonable objectives, assigning specific responsibilities, balancing resources, and scheduling activities are all duties that must be accurately schemed so as to stay ahead of unpredictable difficulties that may be encountered in project implementation. To begin, draft your action plan for citizen engagement. Check the following layout to assist you in completing each section.

The objectives refer to the specific goals you aim to accomplish within a timeframe and with the resources available. The goal of this plan will be the general objectives, which will then be broken down into specific ones.

  • Think about the challenges you have already identified. List them, try to group them, and then rank them. In that way, you will be able to target the general objectives and move on to the specific ones, which will emerge from the previous ideas.
  • Be accurate and concise, and avoid ambiguous ideas. They will not allow you to measure outcomes and will hinder effective project implementation.
  • Don´t be too ambitious. Your objectives should be feasible and reflect the scope of the project.

Contextualization refers to the framework underlying the initiative you are designing. It encompasses the relevance of the problem you are addressing, as well as the antecedents closely related to your current objectives.

  • Try to remember what initiatives have been undertaken in this field. Have SAIs and CSOs been previously involved in joint projects reflecting similar objectives? What are the most notable outcomes of such experiences?
  • Is this project the follow-up or a subsequent phase of another project or projects? In what way?
  • Has an analogous initiative of citizen engagement been established with another governmental agency? How does it relate to the current proposal?
  • Think about every initiative that can provide support for the action plan that you are designing, and make sure you establish a direct relationship to it and highlight its importance.
  • Make sure you mention the agents involved in prior initiatives, or, if no previous initiatives exist, justify the importance of the current project based on previous talks and declared commitment by your counterparts.
  • Most important, develop a comprehensive framework that can justify the relevance of the project. What is the main problem it is addressing? You may need to address reasons such as insufficient accountability, the environment for civic engagement, and so forth.

The normative framework directly refers to the related local, national, or international regulations, statements, and standards in this field that support the initiative you are planning.

  • Think about the principles underlying the initiative: Do they include transparency, accountability, and participation? Does a national law exist for transparency or access to information, or does local framework exist for participation?
  • What are the international declarations to which the country subscribes in relation to citizen engagement in anti-corruption initiatives and development pursuits?
  • Does the SAI mission statement or its strategy mention citizens as beneficiaries of SAI work or refer to citizen engagement?
  • Is the SAI a member of an international committee that pursues engagement with civil society?

The target group refers to the community you are intending to engage with or address as beneficiary of this initiative. It is the group from whom you expect a response or change in behavior through this project.

  • Draft a stakeholders´ list, and include an analysis of their capacities. It will help you identify partners, allies, beneficiaries, and counterparts.
  • Identify appropriate implementing partners (for example, CSOs, SAIs, champions, project officials). Try to spot the right person or group of people who should be contacted—that is, the one that is in charge of the agenda or activities you are including in the proposal.
  • At the same time, think about the broad audience—that is, those who have been working in the field who can also partner to advance your strategies, magnify their effectiveness, collaborate in disseminating information, and so forth.

The activities refer to the tasks and duties that must be carried out to address the project´s goals. They are directly derived from the plan´s objectives.

  • Once you have outlined the general and specific objectives, think about the detailed tasks that can help accomplish them, and list those tasks. You may include a set of sub-activities under each activity.
  • Listing all the activities in chronological order or sequence will be most helpful because sooner or later you will have to develop a schedule for project implementation.
  • Be accurate and concise, and avoid ambitious activities that can distract you from your definite objectives. Take into account that you should be eager to switch strategies or planned courses of action along the process, if necessary.
  • Make sure you clarify who will be in charge of carrying out each task.

The methodology refers to the practical framework or system of methods that you will be using to achieve the project´s objectives. When developing the methodology, you must state the activities you are planning to undertake and explain how you are going to perform them.

  • Building the methodology is all about shaping an effective approach and developing adequate strategies. Therefore, based on the project´s objectives and outlined activities, decide on the best ways to accomplish them.
  • In case you need to undertake research, think about the tools that can assist you in collecting information. List all sources you will be using.
  • Take into account that you may use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, especially when collecting data. For example, are you planning to gather citizens´ opinions for certain audits? Then, are you willing to do it through a survey, a questionnaire, a poll, or a focus group? How are you going to analyze the results?
  • Try to be clear and accurate regarding the strategies you will be using to perform all the outlined tasks, and consider any responses from all actors involved. Take into consideration the scope of the planned activities so that the methodology specifically addresses them.
  • Do not confuse activities with methodologies. They may seem quite similar, but they follow different rationales. While activities are concrete tasks derived from the project´s objectives, the methodologies are derived from the activities and directly address the question, How are you going to accomplish them?
Check the following example

General Objective: Develop an engagement strategy with CSOs to obtain citizen feedback when performing audits of education that can help enrich the SAI´s audit plan and improve the quality of control exercises.

Specific Objective: Create a mechanism for obtaining feedback from CSOs that are working in the field of education.

Activity: Organize a workshop to discuss the results of the latest audit exercise for the Ministry of Education, and welcome CSOs´ input for planning the subsequent audit.

Sub-activity: Create a database to identify all CSOs working in the education.

Methodology: Search the Internet (sites offering directories of CSOs, for example), consult SAI departments (Area of Citizen Participation, Institutional Relations, and so forth) that may have been in contact with CSOs, check the media to see which CSOs have been advocating for improvement in educational curricula.

Expected outcomes refer to the results you are expecting to achieve throughout project implementation.

  • Think of tangible results. Provided the objectives and activities are clearly stated, expected outcomes must naturally come out.
  • Drawing on the list of objectives can help identify feasible results. State the results next to the objectives, so as to keep a coherent structure.
  • What would be good measures of success? Be specific, and avoid ambiguity. You need to state measurable results.
  • For further information, go back to the rapid results framework.

The schedule refers to the agenda you need to build to effectively implement the project´s activities in a specified time.

  • Once you have set reasonable objectives, think about the time you need to achieve them. Setting dates and timeframes will be much easier if you have already listed all the activities.
  • Building a timetable can prove helpful so that you can get a good picture of the whole plan, organize yourself to meet deadlines, and monitor accomplishment of the project´s objectives over time.
  • Some activities may take longer; make sure you plan them accordingly so that you have enough time to implement them, even if they overlap other activities.


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