Credit: MamaYe!/Nigeria
Advocacy Training in Abuja, Nigeria, July 2014

Managing programmes: designing solutions

Delivering health solutions in challenging environments is complex and involves multiple players. Making partnerships effective is essential and demands strong coordination and sound management. Our strong reputation for programme delivery is built on exactly this – designing the right solutions and then creating the partnerships that can deliver them most effectively.

For us, strong delivery starts at the design stage of programmes. This is why we invest considerable thought in technical, design and management systems to ensure robust delivery. 

Our design and management approach is based on:

  • Rigorous research to analyse the problem and the need that the programme is addressing
  • Understanding the context in which the programme operates
  • Building on success from approaches and strategies that have worked elsewhere
  • Engaging the right experts and leaders in the given field
  • Managing partnerships with a range of civil society and government partners, who bring local knowledge and expertise to ensure that solutions are context-specific
  • Instilling teams with enthusiasm, ensuring clear divisions of responsibilities and recruiting high capability
  • Ensuring that financial planning is robust and that appropriate resources are available for all areas of operations
  • Measuring success and continually feeding lessons learned from programme implementation back into our programme delivery approach to ensure a focus on delivering results.

Quality assurance (QA) is central to our programme approach. We put in place a comprehensive QA system to ensure that every aspect of the programme – both technical and management – is as effective as it possibly can be. Our QA is based on three pillars: management and operations, to ensure that standards of financial and operational quality are met; technical quality, to ensure delivery against clear goals, objectives and targets; and effective communications, to capture and share results and present findings to the external world.

We bring a high level of expertise in monitoring, evaluation and learning to all our programmes. Tools for tracking progress against intended results are built in from day one. We use PEER – a rapid, ethnographic approach – to understand attitudes and behaviour in sensitive settings and with hard to reach groups. We undertake large-scale population surveys to demonstrate results. We ensure that learning from successes – and failures – are documented and communicated in ways that inform and influence future plans.

Effective partnerships are at the core of our delivery. To design and put in place the right approach, we bring together organisations with a diverse mix of skills and experience, and which have never worked together before, to achieve a common goal:

  • In our Evidence for Action (E4A) programme we combine the approach of leading academic institutions with groundbreaking advocacy experts to work with governments and over 20 different delivery partners across six countries of Africa.
  • The Girl Generation programme combines campaigning groups, advocacy partners, governments, UN agencies and private sector communications agencies to work together to end female genital mutilation (FGM).

Our experts

  • Kirstan Hawkins, PhD
    Kirstan Hawkins is responsible for developing and supporting Options' programmes, and ensuring the quality of technical inputs for our social change communications programmes. She is a leading expert in the design and implementation of health sector programmes, with expertise in sexual and reproductive health, maternal health and health systems strengthening. Previously based at Swansea University, Kirstan developed the PEER (Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research) approach, an innovative research methodology that trains community-based researchers to access critical behavioural information from their peer groups.
  • Sarah Hepworth, DHealth
    Sarah Hepworth provides management oversight to Options' programmes. She leads the Programme Team’s strategic planning and programme quality assurance functions. Sarah is a health sector specialist with 15 years’ experience delivering complex, high-profile projects within the corporate and development sectors. She is experienced in providing technical and management support to sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, health policy and planning, and health sector strengthening programmes in South Asia, South-East Asia and Africa with a focus on health financing. She also has expertise in corporate social responsibility and the private sector.

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More about Options
Established in 1992, Options has worked in over 50 countries. We lead and manage health sector programmes on behalf of international donors and national governments.
Established in 1992, Options has worked in over 50 countries. We lead and manage health sector programmes on behalf of international donors and national governments.

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