Words: Nicky Wako, GÉANT
In today’s complex business environment, successful project implementation and external engagements are essential for National Research and Education Networks to achieve their objectives. These initiatives present opportunities and obstacles, necessitating a well-defined framework to guide employees and stakeholders towards a shared vision. Here, the formulation and execution of internal policies play a crucial role. This indepth article examines the significance of developing concrete internal policies and provides practical guidance on how organisations can create and implement effective policies that support stakeholder engagement and project implementation.
Internal Policies for Project Execution and External Interactions
Internal policies serve as a compass, providing consistent guidelines and aligning employees with project objectives and strategies for external engagement. In addition, they provide a framework for making decisions, streamlining processes, and ensuring everyone is on the same page, which is essential for instilling a sense of ownership, fostering internal collaboration, and empowering employees to connect the dots. Effective policies assist organisations in identifying, evaluating, and mitigating risks associated with projects and external engagements, enabling them to address potential internal pitfalls proactively by establishing clear protocols and risk management procedures. This improves overall project success and protects the interests of stakeholders.
Creating Internal Policies for External Success
As Within, So Without
Effective policies should be the result of collaborative efforts involving employees, managers, and external partners. Organisations can benefit from various perspectives, ensuring buy-in and improving the policy’s relevance and efficacy. NRENs should avoid perpetuating a tradition simply because “that is how it has always been done”; instead, the focus should be identifying key areas that require policy frameworks to establish internal policies. This includes project management, communication, stakeholder engagement strategies, risk management, data security, and ethical guidelines. Clarity is your best friend when developing internal policies. Policies must be written in clear, concise language to avoid unnecessary complexity and technical jargon because no one should be left behind. Procedures, roles, responsibilities, and expected conduct should be outlined in a format and language that facilitates consistent comprehension across all organisational levels.
Establishing Trust and Accountability
Trust but verify
The internal procedures for external activities lay the groundwork for establishing mutually beneficial relationships with external stakeholders such as partners, clients, funding agencies, and regulators. In turn, well-crafted and successfully implemented internal policies promote trust and accountability by encouraging transparency, ethical behaviour, and adherence to regulatory and compliance standards.
Application of Internal Policies
Put the policy to work!
Once policies are formulated, effective communication and training are required to ensure that employees understand, adopt and are empowered to implement them. Guidelines should be disseminated using comprehensive strategies, including training sessions, document distribution, and visual aids. Regular reinforcement and readily available channels for addressing questions or concerns will increase policy comprehension and adherence. Resulting in strengthened stakeholder relations.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Run it, review it, repeat
Internal policies are not static documents; rather, they should evolve in tandem with the growth of the organisation and the changing industry dynamics. To achieve that, a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, including 360 feedback loops and suitable performance metrics, are required. This iterative process ensures that policies remain relevant, flexible, and aligned with the ever-evolving needs of projects and external engagements. Monitoring and Evaluation exercises provide the organisation with information to strengthen, eliminate, and cultivate new stakeholder relations.
Ongoing Policy Revisions
Efficacy of the policies
In conclusion, NRENs seeking success in a dynamic environment must develop and implement internal policies to support project implementation and external engagements. To guarantee the efficacy of the policies, NREN leadership should provide consistent direction, manage risks, foster trust, and promote accountability. Regular reviews of the policies and lessons learned are necessary to ensure policies are consistent with emerging best practices and regulatory changes.
Nicky is Advocacy and Donor Engagement Manager for the AfricaConnect3 project at GÉANT
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