Value for Money (VfM) can be daunting! Often, when organizations start thinking about it they are not sure where to start. Do we identify indicators? Do we develop some tools? Do we assign responsibilities? The answer is: start with a VfM Framework!
Learning and Change supports organizations to develop VfM Frameworks and develop toolkits that can help staff to operationalise the framework, while ensuring it is embedded in the existing systems and processes.
What is a Value for Money Framework?
A VfM Framework is a structure underlying your programme or organization’s understanding of VfM: it explains what you mean by VfM, what you are looking at when analysing VfM and how you intend to work on VfM.
This usually translates into a short document where these elements are explained, often including a visual representation of the framework that can easily illustrate the key components.
What does a Value for Money Framework include?
When Learning and Change develops a VfM framework, we usually include the following sections:
- Background to the programme/organization – in this section we provide an overview of the programme to ensure that the framework document contains the key elements needed for an external audience.
- Understanding on VfM in the programme/organization – in this section we describe how the programme or organization understands VfM, presenting the definition that we will have developed with the team – usually a contextualised version of the most common definitions of VfM – and the rationale behind it
- The programme/organization’s approach to VfM – here we provide an overview about how the programme/organization intends to work on VfM, the purpose and any other key elements of the approach (such as actors involved, etc.)
- the programme/organization’s VfM components – in this section we go into further detail about the components of the framework. For instance, if we are using the renown 4Es framework, we would include contextualised definitions of the Es, breaking down what they mean within this programme/organization and what are the key areas we will be analysing under each E
- the programme/organization’s framework (including VfM indicators/standards/criteria) – here we may present a visual of the VfM framework and explain what we intend to measure or assess, providing the approach proposed to do so, such as indicators, standards or criteria.
- Data collection – in this section we explain the approach to be used for the data collection, in particular who will be involved and the frequency. We also include the approach to be used for the storage of the data collected.
- Data analysis – in this section we described how the data will be analysed and when.
- VfM reporting – here we explain the VfM “products” that will be developed, the frequency, and the main aspects that they will cover
- Roles and responsibilities – this section is intended to provide an overview of how the framework will be operationalised, describing who will be responsible for what and including any relevant practical aspects
- ANNEX – in the Annex we usually provide indicators/criteria/standards sheets with details about each one including definitions of key words, methodology for the data collection, tool to be used, etc.
Why is a Value for Money Framework useful?
A VfM Framework helps different stakeholders and team members to be on the same page in terms of VfM. Usually, the more it is specific (i.e. contextualised appropriately), the more it is helpful!
This is because several VfM-related concepts can often appear to be quite abstract and subject to multiple interpretations which means that different actors involved may understand it (and therefore apply it) in different ways. Instead, the VfM Framework brings people together to limit confusion and define a specific approach.
It is also useful to have several different aspects concerning VfM in the same place, including an overview on how the programme/organisation intends to operationalise it as often this is hard to picture and can generate additional confusion.
Thirdly, it helps when there are high levels of staff rotation. The VfM framework becomes a ‘go-to’ document that can clarify the organization/programme position around VfM.
Lastly, it is a model that can often be replicated or adapted for other programmes, enabling teams to start thinking about VfM straight from the start of the programme and about how VfM will be integrated in the implementation.
How do you develop it?
Learning and Change usually delivers a series of workshops with key staff members to start developing the core ideas and the backbone of the VfM Framework. For instance, we only just completed a cycle of three workshops with the Australia-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) programme in Vietnam with whom we are currently working.
We first delivered a training workshop to ensure the team understood the concept of VfM and some frameworks used to analyse it. We then delivered a second workshop focussed on what VfM means in the programme.
Participants were asked to imagine that they were at the end of the programme and this had delivered excellent VfM in order to identify the key areas of value. In the third workshop we refined the VfM definition and dived into the questions that we would expect VfM analysis to answer to and briefly touched upon the practical ‘VfM entry points’ that exist within the programme.
Based on workshops of this type and complemented by document reviews, we are usually able to develop a first draft of the VfM Framework which is then shared and refined with the team and revised using their inputs.
Feel free to get in touch if you need help developing VfM Frameworks or just want to have a chat to bounce off some ideas!
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