Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why to work internationally?

Because the international cooperation can:

  • bring new impulses, new inspiration

  • bring new ways to become more innovative and dynamic

  • open new contacts, visits, exchange of experiences, inspiration - supported by funding

  • help to start new types of development pilot work - supported by funding

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When you as staff are engaged in new international cooperation,

  • you can gain new inspiration both on a professional and personal level 

  • you can gain new competences, you also can apply in other parts of your work

  • you will improve your general CV 

 

on Saturday August 29 by Danish

When your organization starts to work more internationally, 

  • it will experince other ways of working and other forms of good practice 

  • it will provide the leadership (boards, direction) with news insights and qualifications

  • it can bring new forms of extra income to the organization

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The international development plan: 

  • Outlines why your organization wants to work more internationally

  • Describe the longer-term goals for the international work

  • Explain how these goals relate to the needs of your organisations and the context in which it operate

 

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The international cooperation must be planned, so the international activities support the overall 1-2 year activity plans of your organization

  • Give priority to international project activities that can support or at least supplement the mission and general activity plans of your organization.

  • Hereby you provide activities, you to some degree would have done anyhow, and now you get the effort paid by project funding.

 

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2. How to prepare the organisation to work internationally?

The organisation development strategy:

  • Increases the chance of success - by clearly naming the organization's priorities and goals for development.
  • Influences the organization's image - showing that the organization knows where it is going and why.
  • Increases the level of the organization preparedness for the implementation of key tasks – since it is clear to everyone what is currently important.
  • Increases the level of team involvement – centered around achieving common goals.
  • Affects Stakeholders and potential partners - allowing the organization to be presented as a professional organization with a vision of development.
  • Helps while applying for external funds - a well-assessed project are the ones where the activities proposed are a part of the organization's development strategy.
  • It is an effective tool in building relations with the business sector entities - allowing you to clearly and coherently present your organization and its goals.
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Be aware that approx. 4 out of 5 organisations working internationally do it as partners, and not as coordinators (applicant and administrator of the project). 

On the one hand: It is not so demanding to be partner as to be coordinator, because you don't need to use a lot of time on preparing the application with a risk of no result, and you don't need to have the burden as mananager of the project. But the challenge is to promote yourself, so you are invited to be a partner. 

On the other hand: As coordinator, you can define the project, pick the partners your prefer, and you have more influence on the project work. But the you have a high risk of being unsuccesfull with your application and thereby you don't get istarted on the international work.  

But you don't need to choose, you can do both: You can promote yourself as partner at the same time as you initiate a new project application with yourself as coordinator. It is always good to have more eggs in the basket

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Most EU programs have two main types of funding, either to project work or to mobility; where mobility means support to participate in international courses, study visit or job-shadowing abroad. 

On the one hand: Mobility funding can be an easier way to gain new input and exchange of experiences!
  • The success rate for mobility applications is overall higher in all EU countries; it is fx in Denmark more than 75 pct, while it for Erasmus projects is below 20 pct.

  • It is also easier to manage and to report mobility projects. 

  • The application can be made by a consortium in your country, where more organization apply together.

On the other hand: Project funding opens for innovative development work
  • where a partnership works together cross-nationally as a team with added value for competence development and new practices

  • which also can produce results, you afterwards can use in your own organization.  

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When your organization plans to start to be more engaged in international work, you should consider not only the EU funding programs,  but also the many national, bilateral and regional programs that also supports international activities. because

  • there is a lot of private and public funds in all EU countries that support study visits or specific project activities; and the application can be easy to make and they often have a good succes rate,

  • there is also many regional funding programs, like special funding programs for the Nordic area, the Baltic Sea region, the Balkan region, the Mediterranean Sea, etc; and likewise there are many bilateral funds all over Europe.

Smaller bilateral or regional activites can be good start of the international work that brings new contacts and experiences for the next step.

Furthermore, it can be a good idea to use a project idea for different project applications, so you can gain some synergy in your application strategy and even better in in more parallel projects that develop different aspects of the same projecrt idea.

 

 

on Saturday August 29 by Danish

Typical will an organization have more activity lines in their activity plans, and thereby you also can give priority to more project lines.

Of cause, international activities demands extra resources to initiate, implement and complete the activities; but an important advantages of international mobility or project activities are that they are based on program funding, so you also get extra financial resources to finance the activities. 

Anyhow, be aware that it is difficult to plan ahead, how many international activities your organization will be involved in, because you don't know beforehand how many of the applications will be succesfull. You may know that the succes rates for this specific program is 20 pct, but you don't know if your application will be part of the 20 pct.

But all equal, the more application you make or are partner in, the better chances you have for starting the international work. 

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Within the research activities of the 1st TIP-PM project, in particular those of OUTPUT 1, the consortium conducted an international survey aimed at the publication of the Report on success stories and challenges for international cooperation.
This report collects the best practices selected in the international cooperation of civil society associations in Austria, Denmark, Italy, Poland and Hungary. These experiences represent a useful starting point for all project managers and managers who want to undertake this new challenge, as they highlight the strengths, challenges, potential and obstacles faced in international project management.
The report also: defines the types and methods of support offered to international project managers in the field of lifelong learning; describes the expectations and support that international project managers need from their organizations; outlines the challenges in the civil society sector in international cooperation projects; indicates the areas of information, knowledge, tools and other support for international cooperation offered by national agencies of cooperation programs in the European Union.
The report is translated into the 5 project languages as well as English and it can be consulted and downloaded in .pdf.

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3. How to start the international work?

The answer to this question may be different for different grant programmes, so it is recommended to check the chosen programme guidelines each time.

In general, the minimum number of partners is:
- A minimum of two partners, from two different countries covered by the programme, in the case of bilateral cooperation projects (e.g. cross-border cooperation programs, such as Poland - Lithuania or Poland - Germany).
- A minimum of three partners, from three different countries covered by the programme, for partnership cooperation projects.

It is worth considering an invitation to cooperation at least one partner more than the applicable minimum.

Then, if one of the partners withdraws from the project implementation (which happens very rarely, but it happens), it will be still possible to continue the project.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga

The most common transnational cooperation models are:

  • Exchange of information and good practices;
  • Parallel development of solutions;
  • Import/export/adaptation of new solutions;
  • Common organisation of events/developing common “products” (such as, for ex. a training programme, a publication, an exhibition, a theatre show etc.);
  • Educational mobilities of the key staff of the organization in order to: participate in a course/ training; job shadowing; conducting classes abroad.

Several different cooperation models can coexist in one project.

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Possible project partners should meet three criteria:

  • Thematic and content-related affinity (but not necessarily from the same field of work, since complementary approaches can generate added value, for example)
  • At best, experience in the field (depending on project requirements)
  • Good communication channels

Three ways of finding a partner are recommended:

  • Request already known organizations
  • Partner search via project search
  • Partner search via partner platforms

If you do not yet have contacts to organisations in Europe, it is recommended above all to find organisations through EU projects that have already been carried out, because these organisations already have experience in international cooperation and can usually be regarded as serious. More information about 2) and 3) can be found here.

The size of the organisations can vary greatly within a project. You can/should also contact larger organisations for partner acquisition. These can possibly add value to the project due to their resources.

It is also helpful to create a profile on platforms such as EPALE and fill it with information about your own organisation in order to attract the attention of other organisations. More information on platforms can be found here.

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4. What are the funding possibilities?

Each funding programme is different in terms of geographical location, thematic focus and type of funding. It should also be noted that each funding programme has specific thematic priorities for the individual funding period and in some cases the National Agencies set their own national/regional funding priorities. In order to increase the chances of success, these should be taken into account especially in the conception and application process. In addition, it is advisable to keep yourself informed about the individual calls of the appropriate funding channels in order to be able to react to a suitable call.

The suitable funding programme can be determined on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Local location of the project and the project partners and geographical focus of the funding programme
  • Thematic embedding in the funding programme
  • Type of financing (full or partial financing)
  • Thematic priorities of the funding period
  • Project durations of the funding programmes

Further information on the funding programmes can be found here and the funding programme search here.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga

It is highly recommended to conduct information and counselling interviews before submitting the application in order to be able to adapt the project idea according to the formal and content-related criteria of the funding institution and minimise weaknesses. Depending on the funding programme, other institutions are responsible for this. It is important to decide which funding programme the project should be submitted to and to find out about the respective funding body/national agency afterwards. Contact details can be often found on the websites of the funding bodies/national agencies. An overview of individual funding programmes can be found here.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga

5. How to make a good mobility project application (for upgrading competences abroad)?

Funding applications are different for each funding programme and for each call. As soon as a project is to be submitted, it is necessary to carefully study the funding guidelines and funding criteria. Likewise, the funding requirements and required materials should be researched in advance in order to be able to submit the funding documents collectively.

Funding applications are usually submitted via an online form with a predefined number of characters. Please note that especially the more detailed project description and shorter project summary (with the project objectives) are very well prepared. A time schedule, a budget plan and a partner description are also necessary. Time can be saved here if these details have been worked out in advance and obtained from the partner organisations. A precise style of expression is highly recommended. If possible, the given characters should be used in an application in order to present the project as accurately as possible to the funding bodies. Empty phrases and multiple repetitions are not advisable.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga

If you want to submit your own project, the following should be checked:

  • Are you developing an innovative (newly designed) or a best practice project (based on projects that have already been successfully completed)? Both is possible!
  • Are there clearly defined project goals with international relevance?
  • Where shall/can the project be implemented? (Consider the general conditions of the respective project partner countries)
  • Is it compatible with the objectives, guidelines and time frames of the funding programme?
  • Are there suitable partner organisations for my idea?
  • Do I need full funding from a funding programme or are there other (national) funding / sponsoring possibilities?
  • When are the deadlines for submission? (Different for all funding programmes)
  • Does my financial calculation really correspond to the resources I have used?
on Tuesday May 26 by aga

It is e ssential for mobility applications to present an elaborated international development plan, which the mobilities must support. The Plan is meant to provide the background for your application and therefore it should cover a longer period than the duration of the project.

The scope of your European Development Plan should be proportional to the size, capacity, and existing experience in European and international cooperation of your organization (including the other organizations that form a part of your consortium, if you apply as a consortium). You should aim to define goals and objectives that are realistic, and you should explain their relevance for the consortium.

The European Development Plan is an important part of the application, because it forms the basis on which you will build your project proposal. The international development plan must:  

  • Outline why your organization wants to work more internationally.

  • Describe the longer-term goals for the international work.

  • Explain how these goals relate to the needs of your organisations and the context in which it operate.

on Saturday August 29 by Danish

With reference to your 2-4 year long-term International Development Plan you will be  asked to define the short-term 1-2 year activity plan for the mobility activities; and the specific objectives of the activitry plan must be in accoprdance with the overall goals of the long-tern Development Plan.   

In all other parts of the application, and in particular when explaining the expected impact of the project, you should make sure to remain consistent with the answers you have given about the long-term international Development goals and the short-tern objectives.

In the mobility plan, you must define the key areas of your orgfanisation's (or consortium's) activities that you would like to improve and explain how. For example, reflect on your plans to improve staff and management competences; teaching and training content, methods and tools; development of key competences and skills of staff and learners; development of sustainable cross-border cooperation; etc.

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Whether you shall apply only for your own organization or on behalf of a bigger consortium of organizations has no clear conclusion.

It is on the one hand more demanding to apply for a consortium, because you need to involve more organisations and find common development objectives and practical forms for the bigger cooperation. Likewise you will apply for a bigger amount, whicyh can be a weakness for getting it approved. 

On the other hand, it will increasse your network and cooperation possibilities, when you are coordinator for a network of organizations, and the application can also gain some extra qualities as far as you can find common needs and shared objectives and activities for all the involved organizations. Furthermore, your organisational grant will also increase proportional with the number of mobilities you are granted. 

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There are two main forms to find host for your mobilities:

1) There is a lot of course providers in thee field that typical offer a series of 5-day courses for learners from all EU members states, so it is easy to get an overview of the announced courses at EPALE - the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (see  https://epale.ec.europa.eu/en/ ). Here you find the courses you are interested in and mention the course providers in the application. 

2) You may have your own network of contacts, who you can ask if they will be host for a study visit by a group of staff members from your organization (or your consortium). Part of the grant is resonable ourse fee, which you can pay the hosts. If uopu are a new organisatioon in the internatiional work, you may not have a suitable international network, but still you can always find possible host organizations just by thematic searching at the internet or by looking at the list of organizations that have received EU funding from Erasmus + and other relevant EU programs.

Many of such organizations could have an interest to be host and develop their contact and get some extra income; and you can at the same time get new contacts and potential partners for future project activities.  

on Saturday August 29 by Danish

6. How to make a good cooperation project application (for partnership, international cooperation in our field of interest)?

Funding applications are different for each funding programme and for each call. As soon as a project is to be submitted, it is necessary to carefully study the funding guidelines and funding criteria. Likewise, the funding requirements and required materials should be researched in advance in order to be able to submit the funding documents collectively.

Funding applications are usually submitted via an online form with a predefined number of characters. Please note that especially the more detailed project description and shorter project summary (with the project objectives) are very well prepared. A time schedule, a budget plan and a partner description are also necessary. Time can be saved here if these details have been worked out in advance and obtained from the partner organisations. A precise style of expression is highly recommended. If possible, the given characters should be used in an application in order to present the project as accurately as possible to the funding bodies. Empty phrases and multiple repetitions are not advisable.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga

If you want to submit your own project, the following should be checked:

  • Are you developing an innovative (newly designed) or a best practice project (based on projects that have already been successfully completed)? Both is possible!
  • Are there clearly defined project goals with international relevance?
  • Where shall/can the project be implemented? (Consider the general conditions of the respective project partner countries)
  • Is it compatible with the objectives, guidelines and time frames of the funding programme?
  • Are there suitable partner organisations for my idea?
  • Do I need full funding from a funding programme or are there other (national) funding / sponsoring possibilities?
  • When are the deadlines for submission? (Different for all funding programmes)
  • Does my financial calculation really correspond to the resources I have used?
on Tuesday May 26 by aga

7. How to be a good project partner?

Partner 's responsibilities begin during the submission process of a project application.
At this stage, if we are invited as a partner, it is essential to:
- be familiar with the call, our obligations and rights, as well as the specific objectives of the project and what the coordinator expects from us
- make clear our own experience, where we can make our greatest contribution
- be clear in which activities we will take part as task leader and where we will only be supportive
- know how to anticipate how many resources (human and financial) we will need and what we could make at disposal of the consortium (expertise, tools, spaces, etc.)
- predict how many people - beneficiaries or stakeholders - we could involve in project activities
- support the coordinator in a collaborative and timely way
If we are able to make our requests heard, it will then be much easier, once the project is approved, to carry out our tasks in the best possible way and reach the final objectives without bad surprises.

on Tuesday September 08 by Italian

The partner is the one who participates, together with the coordinator, in the implementation of the project. The partner can have different roles, often decided together with the leader, based on the organizational needs of project itself and on the skills and potential of the partner. One of the step in which the partner can be fundamental, among others, is for example the organizational phase of the various trips and movements of the participants that a European project can provide, as well as the organization of events, mobility and actual products.
The characteristics, therefore, that a good partner must have are:
1. Passion, motivation, enthusiasm
2. Promptness: punctuality and reactivity
3. inquisitive: curiosity, predisposition to ask questions and deepen
4. Effective communication: to Know how to communicate, within the partnership and externally
5. Trustworthy: doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it - fundamental for a fruitful delegation of tasks
6. Share the vision and objectives of the project
7. Team player, but also
8. Self-confident, autonomous and able of work independently, without too much checking and control.

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8. How to be a good project leader/coordinator?

According to the PMI (Project Management Institute) triangle, the ideal competence set for project managers is a balanced combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours in Technical project management, Leadership and Strategic & business management.
Technical skills include all the practical expertise, use of tools, etc. able to support the project manager in playing and executing the project.
The 10 most important technical skill identified are:
• General fundraising skills
• English language skills
• Project planning and scheduling
• Evaluation
• Coordinating the team work
• Financial management
• Budgeting and cost estimation
• Dissemination
• Internal communication
• Organising idea workshops

on Tuesday September 08 by Italian

According to the PMI (Project Management Institute) triangle, the ideal competence set for project managers is a balanced combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours in Technical project management, Leadership and Strategic & business management.
The leadership competences refer to the ability to handle the various stakeholders in the project, especially to build team spirit, present visions for your team members, inspire them to achieve the objectives of the project and conduct an effective communication.
The 10 most importants leadership skill identified are:
• Delegating project tasks
• Team building including volunteers
• Effective communication in the CSO context
• Conflict resolution
• Motivation and influencing
• Peer-to-peer counselling
• Moderating meetings and events
• Improvisation and agility
• Empathy and situational understanding
• Motivation by good exemplary practice

on Tuesday September 08 by Italian

According to the PMI (Project Management Institute) triangle, the ideal competence set for project managers is a balanced combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours in Technical project management, Leadership and Strategic & business management.
The strategic and business management competences refer to the ability to execute the projects accordingly to the strategy of the organisation and with expertise to act in the area of activity.
The 10 most importants Strategic & business management skill identified are:
• Knowledge of European funding programmes
• International and multilateral network in the CSO field
• Need (and stakeholder) analysis
• Synergies between national CSO projects and international CSO projects
• Intercultural competences
• PR and marketing compliance
• Legal and regulatory compliance
• Insight knowledge of the CSOs providing adult education
• SWOT and risk analysis
• Insight knowledge of the situation in the involved partner countries

on Tuesday September 08 by Italian

Le attività di report sono tutte quelle attività di verifica tecnica e finanziaria che servono a dimostrare a chi ci finanzia e supporta, che stiamo facendo ciò che abbiamo dichiarato e promesso di fare.
Le attività di report avvengono attraverso la consegna di evidenze e prove di ciò che abbiamo realizzato in determinato periodo e possono essere sia finali, sia prevedere anche una verifica intermedia.
L’OBIETTIVO è verificare, sulla base di quanto definito in progetto:
- Stato attuale del lavoro / lavoro atteso
- Dettagliare risultati, realizzazioni, consegne
- Anticipare le attività sino al report seguente: cosa ci aspettiamo di realizzare?
- Il rispetto delle tempistiche ed eventuali correzioni
- Il rispetto dell’utilizzo delle risorse finanziarie
- La necessità di aggiustamenti

Le attività di report risultano uno strumento importantissimo anche per chi usufruisce dei finanziamenti, poiché facilita il costante monitoraggio delle attività, il loro progresso e le eventuali criticità da affrontare.

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Reporting activities are all those technical and financial verification activities that serve to demonstrate to those who finance and support us that we are doing what we have declared and promised to do.
The reporting activities take place through the delivery of evidence and proof of what we have achieved in a given period and can be both final and also include an intermediate verification.
THE OBJECTIVE is to verify, on the basis of what is defined in the project:
- Current status of work / expected work
- Detail results, achievements, deliveries
- Anticipate the activities up to the following report: what do we expect to achieve?
- Compliance with deadlines and any corrections
- Respect for the use of financial resources
- The need for adjustments

Reporting activities are also a very important tool for those who benefit from funding, as it facilitates the constant monitoring of activities, their progress and any critical issues to be addressed.

on Tuesday September 08 by Italian

9. How can I improve my competences to be engaged in international cooperation?

To share the experience from more experienced project managers to first-time PM and enhance the most the know-how, the practice of mentoring is extremely useful and used. Thanks to an effective mentoring, the mentor can teach all its knowledge and experience to their "pupil" (or mentee), promoting their inclusion, professional growth and personal maturation.
What is mentoring?
a. Mentoring is a work-based training intervention where mentor and mentee work one-on-one to contribute to the knowledge enhancement of the mentee, to improve his/her professional skills but also attitudes and behaviour (mentor may provide also emotional and social help).
b. Mentoring can be face-to-face but may happen also over other communication channels (i.e. e-mentoring). In any case it is based on trust.
c. Mentoring can be both a formal (structure mentoring programme and roles) and informal process (an arrangement between two persons in a company).
d. Mentoring differs from coaching in the following characteristics:
- mentoring is a longer term relationship
- mentoring has a wider focus, coaching focuses usually on specific issues
- mentoring can include focus on personal and career development, while coaching is focused mainly on performance.

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English skills in listening, speaking, writing, and reading is needed to take part in European project activities, where the common language will be English (except some rare cases where France will be the shared language). Furthermore, a functional English in in real-life situations of international project management context will be an advantage.

A possible way to improve your English language skills is to apply for and get Erasmus+ mobility grants to cover the course fee, travel and accommodation costs for your participation in some of the many English 1 – 4 week courses that is offered in UK as well as many other EU countries.

Be aware that some national Erasmus+ Agencies mainly support standard English courses for English teachers, while staff in civil society associations must give an extra reason for getting support for English courses, such as improving the functional English required to perform a specific function as project manager in European cooperation projects, where a specific professional terminology and a particular form of technical English can be helpful to learn. IF you cannot find an English course on this specific functional English, you may get an agreement with an English course provider that can prepare and confirm they can offer an one one-to-one tuition or individual course programme.

on Monday November 16 by Danish

If the possible project managers from your organisation don’t speak English, it is difficult but not impossible to take part in an international cooperation, where the working language is English.

But you will need support for the translations. Some basic ongoing mail communication with reading and writing can be possible by using the Google translation, but for more demanding texts you need help to translate; and you will not least need an interpreter to take part in the physical or virtual meetings for the international project team or other international courses and events with listening and speaking.

This help from an interpreter may be free, if you instead of using a professional interpreter can engage a student or other volunteers that think it could be interesting to take part in the project work and to train and use their language skills. This implies that the “interpreter” is included as a voluntary staff I the project, where the payment is not salary or fees but instead can be new experiences and an improved C.V.

on Monday November 16 by Danish

10. What challenges (problems/difficulties) are most common for international cooperation and how to solve them?

Communication and dissemination of the project are fundamental for the sustainable success of a project. Therefore, it is highly recommended that a communication and dissemination plan is already drafted in the project conception, which is reflected in a work package with individual work tasks for the project partners. This will ensure that the project objectives and contents can be continuously communicated to the stakeholders and target groups. A mailing with project information to stakeholders and national and international media is also suitable for further dissemination.

Possible communication channels are:

  • Website (if necessary, own project website)
  • Newsletter
  • Social Media (if applicable own project social media pages/accounts)
  • Stakeholders
  • Knowledge platforms (here is an overview)
  • National and international media (TV, radio, print and online media, etc.)
on Tuesday May 26 by aga

If a project partner does not take over his tasks, it is important to act with tact and sensitivity and to ask yourself the question: Would the other partners be able to take over his tasks or would this not be possible due to lack of resources and competences? If one comes to the conclusion that the unreliable partner is needed and this partner continues to fail to fulfil its tasks after several requests, the lead partner can withhold payments to this partner until the tasks are completed.

If a partner withdraws or if the project has to be continued without a partner, it is important to inform the funding institution/national agency immediately and to develop an alternative plan together. This plan can either provide for the remaining project partners to take over tasks in order to complete the project as planned (this usually changes the budgeting), or it can mean acquiring a new partner or reducing the size of the project. An end to the project is rarely the only option and should of course be avoided.

on Tuesday May 26 by aga