7. Configure Operations unit

The Operations unit can be looked at as a Department in an organization. It should typically have a work plan or work plans for the different projects it implements. A unit will also have designated users assigned to it. The users will either be Department staff or Department Managers. In this section, we explore preparations for operations, i.e. the creation of a work plan and the definition of targets within any given operations unit.

7.1       The essence of a work plan
A work plan is a group of targets in an operations unit with a definite beginning and end. A target is linked to an output defined in the Data Sets unit.

After configuring M&E datasets, the final step in the set up of AlSuite is the configuration of work plans. A work plan runs in an operations unit, which is dynamically designed, allowing the organization to execute activities of different projects in one single work plan. The linkage between M&E datasets and a work plans is the outputs in the M&E datasets linked to targets in a work plan.

Here are some key aspects of the linkage between the Data Sets unit and the Operations unit:
  • Each Operations unit is run with the help of a work plan. There, at least one work plan must be active at any point in time.
  • A work plan is a container of targets; and it can have as many targets as possible.
  • Each target links to one output that will have been defined in the Data Set unit. This is how progress towards outputs it tracked at execution level.
  • Because targets are linked to outputs and not to projects, and because a work plan is a container of targets, a work plan transcends projects. At execution level, you can have one work plan contributing towards outputs of several projects. This also implies that any unit defined can contribute to any output and therefore any project in the organization.

Defining a sensible work plan requires a comprehensive M&E logical framework in place, clearly specifying all outputs related to targets to be defined in the work plan in question.

7.2       Responsible person
The work plan is defined by the Project Manager in close collaboration with the M&E Manager. Staff of the operations unit going to manage the work plan in question should also ideally be involved in the planning process.

7.3       Work plan dashboard
To access the work plan dashboard, log into AlSuite -> select the operational unit of interest -> you will be automatically redirected to the operations unit dashboard.

Navi-Bar-1 has three buttons, i.e. “Operations” for accessing units assigned to you, “Reporting” for accessing the reporting dashboard and “My Dashboard”. 

Navi-Bar-2 is a set of links specific to the selected unit type. In the case of an operations unit, we have four buttons:

  • Dashboard, which returns you back to the default dashboard of the selected unit.
  • Settings, wherefrom you are able to see all information on how the unit in question is configured
  • Work Plans, which enables you to either create a new work plan or display existing ones
  • Search, which provides functionalities to search for an activity present in the system.

Navi-Bar-3 has search functionalities; here we can use the button “Select Work Plan” to select any particular work plan. The selected work plan will show in the middle section. 
The dashboard panel has different sections, including the following left to right:

  • “Activity plan stand” that displays information on the status of different activity plans filed.
  • “Requisition stand” that displays information on the different requisitions in the unit.
  • “My Alerts, Reminders” that displays all alerts and reminders associated with the user logged in. Please note that this panel is independent of the active unit. It displays seamlessly across all units.
  • “Indicator performance” that displays the status of different performance indicators defined in the system.
  • The lower sections provide information on the current stand of the selected work plan, including budget stand, budget consumption, period covered etc. Visuals are enhanced here with the help of graphics.
  • The very last graphic displays the units budget in relation to the rest of the organization.

The operational dashboard is very critical to staff executing projects. 

7.4       Create a work plan
In order to create a work plan, go to the operations unit in which you would like to create the work plan -> Click on the button “Work plans” and click on “Create”. You will be presented with a form field. Enter the name of the work plan, start date and end date -> click on “Save”.

Once you have created the work plan, it is shown as a row in the application.

 At the end of each work plan, there are functionalities available that help with the manipulation of a given work plan:

  • “Work plan” which enables us to edit, delete or close the chosen work plan
  • “Manage”, which leads to further features enabling us to create and view targets and activities related to the active work plan.

7.5       Define targets
After creating a work plan, the next step is to define targets. A work plan is a container of targets that can be looked at as a block of activities to be executed within a specified period and backed up by a specific budget.

In order to create a target, go to the work plan in question -> select the button “Manage” -> then select the button “Create A Target”.

For each target, you will be expected to provide the following information:
  • Output: The output linked to the target you are going to create. Remember: Outputs are defined in the M&E unit of the organization. A target can pick an output from any project present in the output drop down.
  • Target details: Enter here a brief description of the target you are going to create.
  • Budget: Specify the budget amount associated with the target in question.
  • Position: You can use positioning to manually fix the order in which targets are displayed in the system. This is also optional, but very helpful in systematically arranging many targets defined under a given work plan.
After defining targets, you are ready for execution. However, before you invite the team, you need to define approval levels. By this time, you have a clear picture of who should approve what in the different units. So, first go to Chapter 8 of this manual to configure approvers for activity plans, requisitions and field reports, then you may begin activity execution.

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