Essence of results-based management in Zimbabwe

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COUNTRIES across the globe are under pressure to reform policies and practices of their public sectors.

People Management Issues by Robert Mandeya

A Results-Based Management (RBM) system is a powerful tool that can be used to help policy-makers and decision-makers track progress and demonstrate the impact of a given policy, programme or project.

The RBM system across the world over has been triggered by growing concerns and pressure from both internal and external stakeholders for governments to provide tangible and demonstrable results.

In the case of Zimbabwe, if the system is holistically and sincerely adopted, it can turn around the fortunes of many struggling entities, be they public or private.

The success story of the RBM system in developed nations led to growing pressures for developing countries to adopt the new system as a way of improving performance and upholding accountability.

RBM in Zimbabwean context
Although the system is not new in Zimbabwe, the implementation of the programme in the country has been an area of controversy.

This has been largely due to issues of applicability benefits and drawbacks, more so in an environment where there are several institutional, organisational and systemic weaknesses negating government efforts.

In spite of these assumptions, history has it that the RBM system, if properly implemented, can improve management of affairs in every sector.

Integrated approach to RBM
The RBM programme comprises a Results-Based Budgeting (RBB) system, Results-Based Personnel Performance System (RBPPS) and E-Governance.

Cutting across all these three is an integrated Results-Based-Monitoring and Evaluation system (RBME) and a complementing Management Information System (MIS).

These are deemed critical to assist government in conducting systematic programme planning, formulation and implementation which in turn is expected to improve the performance of government’s development initiatives.

Why the RBM should be adopted
Rbm should, in theory, be a useful tool for policy makers, managers and most important, service providers, field workers and the people they work with.

It should help them plan and implement the activities they need to get the results they want. But for this to work, we need a simpler RBM framework and Results-Based Management terminology based in reality.

What those in management positions really need to do, is to explain their results clearly to other people: to their colleagues, to political leaders, to government officials, to donors, to professionals in other fields and to the people they are trying to offer service — whatever the case might be.

RBM is not the only planning, monitoring or evaluation tool available, but if it works, it should make implementers’ lives easier, not more difficult.

The fact is, however, that many people find RBM a bureaucratic nightmare owing to lack of proper training on its operation and implementation thereof.

Practical reasons to use RBM
Where competition for limited resources is high, both national government and its various sectors want to get maximum value for money spent on development projects.

And for that matter, everybody working on development, in Non-governmental organisations, government or the private sector wants to achieve results, and wants to be able to explain them.

There are at least six major benefits of focusing on results:

  • Better implementation: Getting results clear at the start is the best choice, but clarifying them later can still help remove implementation roadblocks.
  • Better communication: Clarifying what we mean by results enable us to deal with differences of understanding before a project begins, and helps implementers communicate results in a clear, unambiguous manner.
  • Stronger capacity development: Identifying intended results in a clear, workable and realistic way, helps us build capacity, because it clarifies for us what we need to concentrate on, what resources we need to bring to the job, and what our real assumptions are about cause and effect. It can also help us identify where interventions to build capacity are necessary.
  •  More realistic project schedules: Clear results-based planning produces more realistic schedules, forcing us to think through the preconditions and sequence for actions, and the resources they require.
  •  Useful evaluation results: Clarifying results during planning and internal monitoring prepares projects/business for effective evaluations.
    Any organisation that knows where its results are, and how to document them, is in a much stronger position to make its case effectively when external evaluations occur.
  •  Reducing opportunities and pressures for corruption: Focusing clearly on results, and making the links between inputs, funded activities and the results they should be leading to, reduces the potential for corruption — or simply indifferent thinking and wasted resources in decision-making and project implementation.

    Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development with the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on mandeyarobert@yahoo.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com

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