This may sound rhetorical, but it is sincere. I was recently thinking about the elaborate schemes the EU (and other donors) have for selecting who carries out their projects.
It all sounds logical.
In practice, project descriptions are manipulated to fit the requirements of the new project, sometimes significantly. All too often, either an outside expert or a specialized business development department with little contact to the project implementers prepares the proposal. This poses the risk that the incoming team is not fully in agreement with the approach written on paper, even if some parts are prepared by the Team Leader.
So in effect, this produces a large number of companies carrying out creative writing, referring to people they barely know, with whom they may or may not have worked, vying for projects, the substance of which they may or may not know anything about.
Then in the implementation phase, the problem is compounded. Most large consulting companies delegate much of the project coordination work to young, relatively inexperienced staff, partially due to the high volume of administrative and logistical support required. And partly for the reason that, due to competition, the margins achieved are too small to pay more senior staff to support the project unless they have paid days to do so.
The question I would raise is: how does any of this make a consulting company qualified to carry out development projects? They may be good at writing proposals, at charging competitive prices, at selecting freelance experts to carry out the projects, but how much remains in the company itself?
I have painted a very grim picture, which is certainly unfair to a number of committed and qualified companies and individuals. On the other hand, everyone who has been involved in this business knows what I am talking about.
So what can be done? I believe a rethink of the approach to hiring expertise and implementing projects is necessary, and will comment on this in future blogs.