By kpeuquet on March 10th, 2014

On November 18th, 2013, IAPHL members discussed best practices for recruiting cost-effective technical assistance (TA). Topics included types of TA, local verses global expertise, and implementation. This discussion was facilitated by a team from Deloitte, including Craig Usswald, Jim Lee, and Phillip Savio.

Original Message: “Today we are happy to announce our next discussion which will start on Monday, November 18th. It is led by a team from Deloitte and focuses on getting the most value for your money and time when recruiting technical assistance. The discussion will share ways the commercial sector works with consultants to ensure the most value and lasting impact from their efforts. Along the way your experiences on this topic will be requested to help us reach greater understanding of best practices.

The moderators:

Craig Usswald – Is a management consulting professional and senior business advisor. He has over 25 years of successful project delivery in Africa and business development experience, with deep knowledge in the areas of supply chain specifically within warehousing and distribution and project management. Mr. Usswald has delivered value through strategy development, business process improvement, organization realignment, and multiple private sector clients including the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is a certified professional in supply chain and project management, with significant general management experience in multiple leadership roles since 1991

Jim Lee – Is a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP with over 15 years of experience driving supply chain transformation initiatives for aerospace & defense, consumer products, national government, high technology, industrial manufacturing, and public health sector clients in North America, Africa, and Asia. He delivers supply chain advisory services with expertise in product development, supply chain planning, sourcing & procurement, manufacturing operations, logistics & distribution, and reverse logistics. Mr. Lee is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P), and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP).

Phillip Savio – Has over 10 years of professional experience working with public sector and international clients, with a particular focus on providing managerial support to advance health programs in the area of supply chain management. He has supported clients through all phases of organization development – providing strategy, performance management, risk management, measures development, product management, process improvement, change management, training and business process design services.”

“One of the key qualities for a TA should include good understanding of the culture, demographic features, government machineries, etc. this is one of the reasons I personally of the view that local TA has the ability to carry out the job well i.e. effective implementation.” (Apolosi Vosanibola, Fiji)

“I just came across this timely article in the current edition of Global Health Science and Practice Journal and thought it might be of interest given this ongoing discussion. A summary of the top 10 lessons learned highlighted in the article are below:

Providing technical assistance to ministries of health: lessons learned over 30 years” (John Nicholson, USA)

“I think that the identification and inclusion of local expertise in TA packages, especially for critical roles, remains highly inefficient, either by design or ignorance of local availability. If sourcing of a TA team has been carried out through an international tender, my personal experience suggests that bidders may sometimes try to avoid any inherent “conflict of interest” or “baggage” that they claim local experts may bring along. This fear in itself may indicate inefficiencies in the process of identification and recruitment of local expertise; because many local experts are often well beyond manipulation or vulnerability to such understandable concerns, by virtue of long exposure and credibility, both local and international, to best practices and know how.” (Murtada Sesay, India)

“You make an excellent point about the importance of sourcing local TA as much as possible. JSI, like many firms that provide TA, rely very heavily on local teams of highly skilled and experienced advisors, who represent the vast majority of our technical advisors in the 40+ countries in which we work. That said, there is also value in bringing in international experts who can draw on a wide range of experiences from work in other counties to apply to the local challenges at hand. In many cases, these “international TA” providers are also from the Global South, sometimes from a neighboring country.” (Chris Wright, USA)

“Certainly if you set up new systems, or want to make considerable changes to existing systems, it is important that the TA has worked with multiple systems in variable contexts.

Sometimes you can find that at national level, but exposure to variable contexts often requires international exposure.” (Harry, IAPHL Member)

“In Swaziland we received TA from the World Health Organisation about 5 years ago on Quantification for essential medicines. This came in the form of training for the Central Medical Stores and Health facilities. It was done in such a way that the practical exercises utilised real data from each department. The way in which the training was conducted and enables participants to grasp the core principles which are still embedded in each individual. I am very happy that through this TA, we were able to build local capacity such that the Ministry of Health is able to operate the tools introduced.” ( Tibuyile Sigudla, Swaziland)

“I propose that there are two types (at least) of TA, and the distinction is important. Mostly we have been discussing my preferred type of TA. It is when we are called in to share our expertise and strengthen local capacity when that expertise is not available.Sometimes, however, we are called in when the local capacity exists, but the local colleagues have too much other priority work to apply it. So we help out as “extenders.”

As an “extender,” our obligation is to get the specified duties performed efficiently and effectively, and to bring the work in on time and at or under budget. Only when we are doing our best at that can we propose other things that may need fixing, offer other suggestions, propose capacity building, etc. We need to remember that our local colleagues are very busy with other priorities or they would not have called on us. They have developed a Scope of Work and found the resources to fund it. We must use caution in proposing revisions to it. Gratuitous “new visions” are probably not appropriate. Do the best you can on the agreed-upon scope first, and then see what else there may be time for.

In reality of course, a lot of TA is a hybrid of the two types. I would just offer that it is beneficial to be aware of the two types.” (Gary Steele, USA)

Getting the most value for your money and time when recruiting technical assistance