3. Project documents checklist


One of your first tasks as a newly-hired Project Manager is to locate all key documents that define the project and its commitments. You’ll refer to these documents often: they should serve as the foundation of project planning, compliance and monitoring of project activities

The following checklist describes some of the most common documents Project Managers should review. (Be sure to ask the design team and management if there are any other unique project-related documents that you should be aware of.)

  • Technical Proposal
    • Together with your project agreement or contract, the proposal states the context, defines the problem and describes the affected population and target areas. It should identify your goal, objectives, activities, inputs, outcomes and indicators. It also describes the project’s strategy to achieve the desired project impact.
    • The proposal DOES NOT provide you with the level of information you need to manage the project by itself, but is an important reference. It may provide you with the envisioned staffing structure, geographic focus, and partners, including their roles and responsibilities. This is useful but will need at least a brief check to make sure it is still appropriate for meeting the project objectives.
  • Logical framework
    • Some proposals will include a logical framework (log frame), which is a summary of the proposal’s main elements. The log frame provides you with a picture of how the project will work to achieve its goal. It includes the indicators (measures that show progress), means of verification (sources of information and methods used to show progress) and assumptions (events, conditions or decisions which are beyond the project’s control) that relate to your goal, objectives, outputs and activities.
  • Budget
    • The budget will provide the planned expenses for activities proposed in the technical proposal. By becoming thoroughly familiar with the budget, you can better manage the funding provided by the donor. The budget will include:
      • Approved budget line items – major groupings of cost which may vary depending on the donor. The major groupings are used to monitor status of expenses.
      • Detailed budget – provides cost details included in each approved line item. For example, the number of items budgeted and unit costs are included in this document.
      • Cost share – represents CARE’s contribution to the project’s costs, sometimes called match funding. This could be cash or “in kind” contribution. The budget will describe the type of cost and designate the source. Cost share contributions are contractual obligations; donors’ contributions can be reduced if CARE is unable to meet its cost share.
    • Budget Notes
      • Budget notes contain additional information about the budget. These notes should explain the nature of the costs, the basis of unit costs and how the number of units was calculated in the budget.
    • Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
      • Some proposals will include a Monitoring and Evaluation plan. This will give you an overview of what information you need to collect, analyse and report to assess project progress, performance and impact.
    • Partnership, subgranting or any other stakeholder agreements
      • Some partnership or subgranting agreements are signed during the project design phase. These agreements between CARE and project partners describe rights and responsibilities. Among the issues usually covered are period of agreement, obligated funds and payments, reporting and evaluation, general provisions and other topics that may relate to guiding principles, confidentiality, conflict of interest, dispute resolutions and many others. These agreements help partners hold each other accountable and settle potential conflicts. If you haven’t signed agreements with your partners in advance, be sure to do so at the project’s inception.
    • Contract
      • This legally binding agreement between CARE and the donor must be signed for the project (and any related spending) to begin. Contracts, also referred to as grant agreements, state our obligations to the donor, along with reporting requirements and rules and regulations. Be sure to study this important document since it will provide you with the outline for contract compliance.
    • Individual Project Implementation Agreement (IPIA)
      • The IPIA is the contract between a Country Office and the CI member relevant to a specific project. In most cases, IPIA’s are signed when the funding member is not the CO’s lead member. The IPIA lists basic project information, the portion of the grant that will be controlled by the CO, and the percentage of overhead costs that will be collected by the CI member. The agreement also specifies the CI member’s reporting requirements, and any special required circumstances.