These resources are ideal for IT Staff looking to learn more about software development, IT project management, and working with external vendors
The IT skills needed for supporting T4D initiatives will be dependent on which technical aspects Country Offices choose to keep in-house versus those they outsource to external vendors. Some familiarity with commonly used tools and their technical components solutions will be essential regardless of whether or not T4D solutions are being produced within UNICEF. Skills for the managing software development process and dealing with external vendors should be considered as key competencies.
Recommendations for building IT skills for T4D:
IT departments should begin to evolve the required competencies to include T4D and these should be included in the generic ICT Terms of Reference (e.g., familiarity with common tools, open source solutions, etc.)
Country Office IT should partner with Programmes to improve awareness of programme goals and identify areas where T4D components could assist programme functions or improve outcomes. This will include involving IT staff beginning in the conceptual and planning phases for projects which include T4D components, and seeing projects through implementation and scale.
The IT department should become a partner to Programme staff when negotiating with external partners and vendors who may be building or implementing T4D components. This will require IT staff to have a strong understanding and participate in
Project management approaches for software development
Business analysis and requirement definition
UNICEF-Supported Trainings (accessed via unicef.skillport.com):
Graduate Program: ICT, such as mobile applications, information security and networking, and software management, as well as critical business areas such as finance, operations and entrepreneurship, $40,000.00
UN University, Intl. Institute for Software Technology
These resources are intended for either IT or Programme Staff looking to learn more about project management, business analysis, and project planning.
The nature of T4D and innovation projects means that staff must often develop a business case, oversee consultants, and participate in a business analysis. Identifying and implementing a technology solution within a UNICEF programme should be as rigorous as it is for any private business. It is not expected that UNICEF staff undertake the entire business analysis themselves– this process can be outsourced to consultants and vendors. Therefore it becomes essential that staff understand the steps and reasoning involved in the business processes and develop project management skills that include an understanding of common software development approaches.
Recommendations for building business skills for T4D:
Country Offices should conduct an assessment of current staff capacities and identify which aspects of business analysis and project management can be handled in-house vs. outsourced to external vendors.
While Country Office staff may not find it necessary to achieve certification in specific project management skill sets, understanding the basics of approaches such as Agile and Scrum methodologies will improve work with external partners.
There are a number of project management and business planning resources and certifications already available through UNICEF Skillport. Staff should be encouraged to include these courses in their personal Learning Plans in order to access UNICEF resources for professional development.
Business Planning Essentials
1 hour Online Course: Business plans, analyses, implementation prep, Free
PMBOK Project Scope Management
Online Course: Requirements, work breakdown, monitoring
These resources are intended for either IT or Programme Staff looking to learn more about specific applications of technology for programme areas or methodologies for innovation.
In addition to the general project management skills for T4D, UNICEF staff may want to familiarize themselves with specific applications of technology or innovative design processes that could be useful for programme needs. Real-time data collection, health care, emergency response, and citizen reporting include just a few fields where rapid advances in technology are being made. Keeping up with these trends is important in order to help UNICEF staff make good business decisions about potential vendors and to understand the challenges of implementing these solutions. In addition to trainings and workshops, there are number of guides and frameworks that can be used for the conceptualization and planning of specific T4D and innovation projects.
Recommendations for building subject matter skills for T4D:
While there are multitude of exciting technologies and projects that exist, Country Offices should approach these resources with some caution. It is essential that a technology is not chosen before thorough problem definition and business analysis. Projects should be programme need-driven, not technology solution-driven.
As UNICEF works to improve MoRES and especially Level 3 Monitoring, the benefits of real-time data collection should be carefully assessed to find the best way to integrate these into UNICEF’s M&E Operations.
It should be noted that Tech Change offers group rates for their online courses. Country Offices interested in specific trainings should contact the Regional Office in order to coordinate participation for these trainings.
Consulting and Toolkits: Aimed at building the expertise and capacity of global health stakeholders using mobile technology for health by connecting them directly to consultations, tools and a network of highly qualified experts in the field.
Happy Friday! I’m pleased to share with you the featured conversation on the World Bank’s Striking Poverty website, “Ecosystems for Innovation and the Role of Innovation Labs.” The online discussion features UNICEF’s Chris Fabian, the Director of the World Bank Innovation Labs, Aleem Walji, and Maria May the Programme Manager for BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab talking about innovation and the value it brings in humanitarian work.
This is an ongoing conversation and so far the question posed to the discussants is “What is social innovation and why does it matter?”
Maria May: “Innovation should enable us to do more with less.”
“At its core, innovation is a form of problem solving. It can mean combining existing resources in a novel way (perhaps drawing from practices in another sector), adding a few new ingredients to a solution, or understanding a context in a way that others failed to. For organizations, it is best viewed as a process over time vs. an outcome, even though the outcome is what is most visible and tangibly useful.”
Aleem Alwaji: “Innovation is a muscle. It takes work to make it strong.”
“You can start experimenting, taking measured risks, and co-creating with clients in a way that gets you past the paradigm-changing moment. I think of it as the ‘disrupt or be disrupted’ moment. If you don’t reinvent yourself at these key moments, you guarantee your obsolescence. We need space and time to experiment and learn. We need accountability and opportunity. We need discipline and experimentation. We need to measure and we need to learn from failure. That’s the heart of innovation.
Chris Fabian: “Doing something new or different that adds concrete value.”
“In order for this new, different work to matter to an organization it needs to 1) be useful, 2) be recognized and 3) be counted/countable. The labs help us do these three things from the point of strength of the organization – which is, for UNICEF, its 135 country offices.”
Innovation Labs offer “A world of connected problem solvers, creating solutions in humanity’s most difficult operating environments, with the ability to scale successes and learn from failures is the only way that we will be able to solve the set of problems that many would have considered impossible only a few years ago.
This is an on-going discussion, so be sure to check out website for forthcoming questions and answering from the star discussants. Also, we heard form Aleem Alwaji and Chris Fabian a couple of weeks back on scaling innovation and how that can be done in large organizations.
In October, the ESAR Office hosted a T4D Capacity Building workshop which brought together programme and ICT staff from 19 of our 21 country offices to discuss the both challenges and possible solutions for managing and scaling T4D and innovation projects. The workshop served as a good platform for information sharing and learning between country offices.
We are pleased to share the post-workshop report which serves as a summary of the sessions and discussions during the workshop. It offers a brief analysis of the common challenges met by Country Offices during T4D implementation, some practical examples and opportunities for integrating T4D into programmes, and a summary of the tools proposed to assist with T4D project management. Finally, it summarizes the key outcomes and offers a roadmap for future support from the Regional Office: ESARO T4D Capacity Building Workshop Report
To learn more about the individual sessions, check out the presentation put together by our facilitation partner for this workshop, ThoughtWorks, which highlights the main points of each session: T4D Synthesis-FINAL
We would like to thank all of our participants, especially those who shared case studies from their offices. Whether or not you attended the workshop, we hope this report will serve as a learning opportunity and spark discussion for those working on T4D and innovation initiatives.