Facilitating Inter-Project Coordination
through Templates of Thematic Relationships
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This proposal concerns the development of a template of thematic relationships
on which an agency, government, or any coalition of bodies, could position a set
of projects covering a spectrum of concerns. The positioning would be done automatically
using a list of project titles. The resulting map would indicate probable relationships
between the projects that are worth bearing in mind in considering mutual impacts,
synergies and counter-productive vulnerabilities. The template would be based
on information already maintained on thousands of relationships between problems,
or between strategies, by the Union of International Associations.
There is widespread acknowledgement of the challenges posed by coordination
- Between sectors
- Between departments of a single agency
- Between agencies
- Between countries
The challenges are especially great in articulating and maintaining programmes
for developing countries or transitional economies.
There are very few tools available to assist policy-makers and project developers
to acquire a sense of the context through which new initiatives can be positioned.
In the development community there are many anecdotes concerning duplication
and counter-productive relationships between projects.
Interrelating initiatives of the agencies of a government:
allocates ministerial mandates to cover a spectrum of issue areas. However, this
is done quite differently by different governments. The spectrum of concerns of
one government may be split into 15 ministries, whereas another may split it into
35 ministries. Each ministry then becomes responsible for a multitude of programs
within its mandate. It faces considerable difficulty in managing their functional
relationships, other than for administrative purposes. For the government of that
country, the difficulty is magnified in ensuring coherence to the program initiatives
of all the ministries together.
The proposal envisages that the ministry or government could supply a list of
project titles (provided they are adequately keyworded) which would then be applied
to the template in order to generate a map indicating probable functional relationships
between the projects. These functional links would then suggest where communication
links might, usefully be maintained between projects, or with respect to the relevant
The procedure might also be adapted to compare the sets of ministerial concerns
and mandates of one country with that of another.
Communicating the programmatic coherence of a development agency:
the case of a ministry, a development agency (or a coalition of such agencies)
faces a challenge in obtaining and communicating insights into the interrelationship
between its many project initiatives.
As in the previous case, the proposal envisages that such an agency could supply
a list of project titles to generate a map indicating probable functional relationships
between projects and possibilities for communication links to coordinate these
The work proposed relies heavily on what has already been achieved by the Union
of International Associations in mapping thousands of ftinctional relationships
between problems and between strategies. See statistics on
and on (strategy relationships
This information is accessible over the web where some mapping experiments have
already been activated for exploration by users (see via access
The adaptation required involves the design and testing of computer routines to
format and select relationships so that then can be used as the basis for the
template described above. It is possible that this could be done so as to permit
users to generate the maps for themselves via the web.
Clearly there is a need to experiment with appropriate formatting of lists of
projects so that they can be "applied" to such a template.
Finally there is a need to explore ways of presenting the map, whether on a screen
or in hardcopy format.
Consistent with the policies governing maintenance and development of the
problems and strategies databases, it is not assumed that the result of generating
a particular map would be completely satisfactory or free from error.
Rather the assumption is that the map would provide more insight than is otherwise
available. Indeed where the relationships it highlighted were obviously inappropriate,
this itself would be a basis for improving the databases so that on a second iteration
the quality of the map would be improved.