Preparing capacity assessments and audits

The core of a capacity assessment / audit is often based on collecting data and information from key stakeholders. The full process involves several steps and is organized in a participative manner:

  1. In the first phase, stakeholders need to be mobilized and the specific design of the capacity assessment should be developed. It is important to engage key stakeholders as they can “provide political and administrative oversight”, “assist in designing the assessment’”, “conduct research and participate in the assessment”, “analyse and disseminate the results and set priorities for follow-up action”. Furthermore, the participation itself can contribute to stakeholders’ capacity development (UNDP 2008).
    Within this phase it is important to “clarify objectives and expectations with primary clients”, to specify “priorities, goals and expectations”, and to “identify owners of assessment”. On this basis, the capacity assessment frameworks have to be adapted to the specified aims and needs (e.g. capacities for whom? capacities for what?)
  2. Information and data collection & the assessment approach have to be determined. Starting with a horizon scan to understand the overall context, a quantitative (e.g. designing ranking scheme for capacities) and/or qualitative approaches (anecdotal evidence) have to be selected. Data can be collected by:
    • Semi-structured interviews or one-on-one interviews;
    • Questionnaires;
    • Focus groups;
    • Client satisfaction surveys;
    • Scorecards;
    • Workshops;
    • Case studies etc.
  3. Furthermore, it needs to be decided how the capacity assessment should be conducted (who should conduct it, who should be interviewed, where and how information and data should be collected, should external experts / a third party collect data, or should a self-assessment take place?).
  4. Additional questions are:
    • How important is the use of information and data for learning experiences?
    • Should it be possible to measure changes over time / across entities?
  5. Finally, all decisions have to be integrated in a plan and the cost of the capacity assessment has to be evaluated.

This working framework can be discussed and agreed upon with the (potential) members of the RAG by for example organizing a workshop / meeting to discuss the topics. A possible agenda for this should include: an introduction, key terms and concepts, explaining process for capacity development and capacity assessment / audit, introducing the framework for capacity audit, adapting the framework to specific context, identifying stakeholders for participation in the audit.

Next: Clarifying context and aims of capacity development