2. How to prepare the organisation to work internationally?
2.1. Why is it worth to develop the organisation development strategy?
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.
2.2 Shal we try to start as partners or as coordinators
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
2.3 Shall we start with mobility or with project activities
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.
2.4 Can we combine national, bilateral, regional and EU funding programmes?
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.
2.5 Can we start with more international activities at the same time?
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.
2.6 What experiences could we offer to share in the international partnership?
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.