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Update on the Change Management Process

Executive Committee Meetings

Update on the Change Management Process

2 April 1998



1. At its tenth meeting in February 1998, the Standing Committee reviewed the Update on Project Delphi (EC/48/SC/CRP.6), which, together with its annex, provided a detailed progress report on each action that had been outlined in the Delphi Implementation Plan which was annexed to the Update on Project Delphi (EC/47/SC/CRP.23) and presented to the seventh meeting of the Standing Committee. The update showed that more than half of the actions had been implemented and that many others had already achieved substantial progress.

2. The remaining significant actions have been identified as the focus of UNHCR's principal work programme for 1998. They are comprised of six priority project areas which are critical to overall success: the Operations Management System; a protection database; the Supply Chain; systems replacement; human resources management; and financial services. Details on progress in these six project areas are provided below.


3. The design and development of UNHCR's new Operations Management System (OMS) has entered an intense period of activity. Three dedicated project teams, consisting of staff from Headquarters and the Field, have been created within the context of an expanded OMS team and have begun their work. Each of the three teams are focusing on separate elements of the OMS, namely:

(i) Processes, procedures, schedules, and tools;

(ii) Monitoring, control, evaluation, and reporting systems; and

(iii) Management responsibility, accountability, and structure.

A fourth team, which will focus on software systems development, will be formed in the coming months, once the core elements of the OMS system design has progressed further.

4. In order to ensure an integrated approach to the design of the new OMS, the Division of International Protection, support divisions and Operations Bureaux have substantial representation in the expanded OMS team. Staff members from UNHCR's field operations have been brought to Geneva on a temporary basis, in order to ensure that the design of the OMS is grounded in the realities of field operations. Given the importance of improved software support for the financial dimension of UNHCR's operations, the OMS teams will work closely with the Division of Financial and Information Services in re-engineering UNHCR's financial management processes and in defining financial software system requirements. Similarly, the OMS team is cooperating closely with the Supply Chain project in order to ensure the integration of all components of the OMS.

5. Although the design of the new OMS is still being consolidated, key elements which will figure prominently in the final product include:

(i) Improved OMS processes which will keep UNHCR focused on achieving efficient, effective and timely results, and on measuring impact;

(ii) Improved planning processes through enhanced strategic planning for solutions, objective-driven rather than calendar-driven time-frames for operational activities, improved programme and project design, and systematic team-oriented planning within and across country operations involving UNHCR and its partners;

(iii) Enhanced accountability, with improved access to guidance and tools through a new OMS Knowledge Base, which will initially be a CD-ROM-based repository of operational guidance to be made available to all UNHCR staff members and which will also provide clearer definitions of responsibility and authority;

(iv) Enhanced monitoring and control of operations through clear and definitive guidance on what and how UNHCR should monitor, as well as improved definitions of performance indicators at all levels of UNHCR operations; and

(v) Improved integration of protection, by means of a better definition of protection objectives and the means to achieve them through interventions by UNHCR staff members and assistance activities.

6. As indicated in earlier reports on UNHCR's change management initiatives, many of the envisaged improvements in a new OMS will be delivered through new software systems. This will inevitably be a multi-year process. Once the basic OMS design is complete, for which the target date is the end of the third quarter of 1998, a key challenge will be to identify and implement improvements in the way UNHCR manages its operations in advance of the full deployment of the new OMS software support systems.


7. The Division of International Protection has established a small technical unit within the Protection Training and Support (PTS) Section to coordinate the implementation of the Protection Information Management System/Database (PIMS). As part of a step-by-step approach to the development of PIMS, PTS has focused on the establishment of a situation report and a critical events information database.

8. During January/February 1998, a consultant visited the Great Lakes region of Africa to undertake an evaluation of current field practices in the collection, analysis, and reporting of protection information. The report of this consultant will provide a basis for the development of procedures, formats and mechanisms needed to establish the database. A pilot project covering three field locations in the Great Lakes region of Africa will then be undertaken.


9. The Supply Chain function will be closely integrated with the OMS and with new financial systems, in order to provide a responsive service with a customer focus. It will provide a mechanism for UNHCR to track and maintain its inventories and all UNHCR-owned non-expendable property. The Supply Chain will be supported by a new information technology system and by ensuring that the function is incorporated into organizational infrastructures.

10. The design phase of the Supply Chain project is nearing completion. Following further detailed discussions with the OMS team and with Financial Services, which are expected to provide requirements for business processes and information system specifications, the design will be transformed into specifications for a comprehensive information management system.

11. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for the new information technology system, which will be based upon the specifications for information management, is being prepared. The information management technology required for UNHCR operations in isolated field conditions has been examined and will be pilot-tested and incorporated into a deployment plan. The development of an updated master item catalogue and a customer catalogue has begun. This will be based on field input and will be harmonized with other United Nations organizations. The formal development of training materials has also begun, and staffing and organizational structure issues are being addressed.

12. In addition to planning for the Supply Chain project, short-term improvements to existing systems and procedures have been recommended and prioritized. Support for the existing Supply Chain-related systems is continuing and updated releases are scheduled for late 1998.


13. New terms of reference have been issued for the Information Technology Steering Committee, which will provide high-level oversight to the new systems development and the activities of the Information and Communication Systems Section. It will ensure overall direction and coordination for information technology and, in addition to looking at new system requirements, will be the forum for the review of issues such as the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), year 2000 compliance on existing systems and the UNHCR global information technology (IT) strategy.

14. Work on defining systems requirements within the framework of the new OMS continues in all key functional areas. Teams are being set up to examine and specify requirements for protection (linking to PIMS as described above), programme management and operations support, which includes supply chain, financial management and human resources. The teams will work with a business analyst to assist with the technical side of defining requirements.

15. Once the requirements have been defined, RFPs will be issued. The RFPs will include as many functional areas as possible, which will be included in the evaluation process in order to ensure all needs are taken into consideration.


16. Within the context of a fairly wide scope of issues related to human resources management, there has been progress in a number of areas.

A. Delegation of authority for locally-recruited staff in the field

17. The plan to implement the delegation of human resource management in respect to locally-recruited staff in the field in 1998, which is intended to improve the responsiveness of administrative actions by having them taken as close as possible to the duty station, is on target. Preparatory work will be completed by the end of April 1998, when training packages, guidelines, written procedures and manuals will be made available in English. French versions will follow during the course of 1998 at which time implementation in French-speaking regions will be possible. Implementation will take place on a region-by-region basis over the period from April to December 1998, according to the availability of resources.

B. The Career Management System (CMS)

18. UNHCR staff have completed the first phase of the CMS cycle which began in September 1997, by setting objectives and selecting competencies, with support through training and guidance, including "helpline" assistance. The second phase of this cycle, the mid-term review, is now being undertaken. Additional support has been offered to staff and managers requiring assistance during the first phase through targeted missions by trainers.

19. The opportunity for staff to discuss their work objectives with their supervisor and to situate their personal contribution within UNHCR's overall operational strategy is seen as one of the most important aspects of CMS. The competency framework, while providing useful parameters for most functions, is perceived to be in need of streamlining and a review is planned for the second and third quarters of 1998.

20. Two staff/management bodies are in the process of being established in support of CMS and its processes: the Joint Monitoring Committee, which will review the implementation of the CMS, and the Rebuttal Board, which will review formal disagreements over appraisals. Important measures designed to further support CMS include the Management Development Programme and the realignment of human resources practices with the system. A system to electronically collect CMS-related data, capturing elements and results of appraisal and competency development processes, is being developed as a prototype and will be deployed during the second quarter of 1998.

C. Posting of staff

21. The lists of posts that are, or are expected to become, vacant is known as the "Compendium" and its format and use has been modified recently. Previously issued on a yearly basis, the Compendium is now updated every month. In addition, streamlined procedures to apply for and make decisions on posts are being introduced. These changes will facilitate vacancy management, bring greater transparency to the postings process and ensure a more effective match between the requirements of individuals and the organization.

D. Review of other elements of human resource management

22. The Division of Human Resources Management has established internal working groups to examine other essential components of human resource management. The groups are looking at the areas of core/non-core staff, recruitment, placement and human resources planning, contractual arrangements, promotion, rewards and sanctions, and staff reduction. Following the examination of various options in these areas during the second quarter of 1998, it is planned that recommendations will go to senior management early in the third quarter of 1998.


23. In relation to initiatives taken in the area of financial services, the Division of Financial and Information Services is working in two broad areas as described below.

A. Decentralization of Financial Services

24. The transfer of responsibility for accounts processing for the Southern Africa and former Yugoslavia Operations became effective on 1 January 1998. Implementation is being monitored by Financial Services at Headquarters, which, at the same time, is working with other operations to prepare them for the decentralization of financial services.

25. By April 1998, 658 staff in five regions will have been provided with financial management training. This includes 65 Representatives, 292 professional and 301 local staff dealing with financial matters. The training courses are divided into three levels, Financial Management for Senior Managers, Basic Financial Management and Control, and Basic UNHCR Financial and Control Concepts. At present, staff are being trained by consultants assisted by UNHCR staff. To prepare for a full handover of all training activities to UNHCR staff, however, 38 staff members both from Financial Services and from finance posts in the field have attended three Train the Trainers courses conducted in Geneva.

26. Additional support to the field for decentralized operations is being facilitated through the planned installation of a "hotline" to Financial Services at Headquarters. This should be fully operational by September 1998.

B. Financial Management System

27. Teams are being established to work on the development of policies, procedures and processes of all aspects of the financial management cycle within the context of the new OMS. These new procedures will form the basis for defining the requirements for new systems.


28. It is clear that the development of an integrated, all-encompassing Operations Management System from the present Programme Management System, which focuses on assistance activities, is key to defining the requirements for new systems. The detailed elaboration of streamlined processes and procedures will be crucial to ensuring that new systems provide adequate support for UNHCR's core functions of protection and the search for durable solutions. Experience has shown that the introduction of new systems takes considerable time in terms of development, training, and implementation. The IT Steering Committee will need to examine the most appropriate approach in terms of prioritization of needs, taking into account, in particular, the resource requirements for new systems, both financial and human resource related, which will only become clearer as UNHCR moves to the stage of issuing RFPs.

29. While some of the improvements currently being designed will be dependent on the introduction of new systems, there are other elements of the OMS which can be introduced earlier through changes to procedures. These include improved planning processes, more effective teamwork, objective-setting linked to a desired impact and results-based budgeting which focuses on outputs rather than on detailed inputs. Changes of this nature, however, require an adaptation in the approach currently used. UNHCR staff must be supported in this process through effective coaching and training. Such training must be planned carefully and must be coordinated with other training programmes, such as protection, financial decentralization and delegation of human resource management.

30. With the appointment of the Director for Change as the new Director of the Division of Operational Support (DOS), to which the responsibility for change management has been transferred, the High Commissioner is implementing the mainstreaming of change initiatives which were announced at the tenth meeting of the Standing Committee in February 1998. In this respect, the Change Group has become part of DOS, the structure of which will be adjusted accordingly, and the development of OMS, in particular, is now the direct responsibility of DOS.

31. The Standing Committee will be provided with a further update on progress in the change management process at its thirteenth meeting in September 1998.