ERCOE Supports Organizational Capacity Building for Sustainable Development
By :- Habtom Tesfamichael
It is customary for organizations to invest on capacity building programs to develop their human resources so that they could give excellent services. In its first attempt to create an institution for capacity building, the Government of Eritrea established in 1996 the Eritrean Institute of Management (EIM), which operated under the auspices of the University of Asmara. Targeting the public sector, EIM offered standard three-month training programs in Personnel Management, Financial Management, Materials Management, and Project Management.
Then in 2006, the Eritrean Centre for Organizational Excellence (ERCOE) was established with a view to playing an important role in the successful implementation of national development programs by enhancing the managerial capacity of the various organs of the Government through training, research and consultancy services in the areas of management and public administration.
The rationale behind the formation of ERCOE lies in the need to improve the institutional capacity of organizations by enhancing their productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability in giving public service. The center plays an important role in social, economic, and institutional transformation by helping create excellent organizations in Eritrea.
ERCOE is tasked with providing training, research, and consultancy services on management and public administration to public and private sector and instill the values of excellence in institutions and their staff. It works to inspire organizations to reach heights of perfection. It provides the foundation for a never-ending cycle of continuous improvement – a process by which people start where they are and work to gradually improve their organization over a period of time.
In line with the government’s policy and development priority, the center is expected to contribute by helping organizations to be more effective and productive. To address challenging tasks ahead, ERCOE tries to respond to the needs and demands of development programs. It perpetually works to identify performance and outlook gaps in organizations before launching intervention measures that deal with challenges associated with effective organizations and mangers.
ERCOE is authorized to promote the excellence of organizations and their members. The values that are espoused and practiced by its members are quality service and focus on customer.
Its training programs are organized and delivered in two models: performance improvement programs (PIP) and area-specific training programs.
ERCOE’s major interventions are related to PIP, a broad package program in which ERCOE works with targeted organizations while drafting or revising their strategic plans and working systems. It works to emphasize the interdependence of the various public and private organizations and to inspire a good organizational culture to improve productivity. These are all related to the PIP which takes up two months to accomplish.
The second model of training, area specific Intervention, aims to enhance the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the human resources engaged in the specific work area by analyzing the specific needs.
In offering research and consultancy services, ERCOE has set criteria in which an organization is said to be on the right path to excellence if it conforms with the seven basic principles of organizational excellence, which include leadership, strategic working plan, staff expertise, customer focus, process management, function outcome and knowledge management. The activities of ERCOE revolve mainly around these principles.
ERCOE has the responsibility and capacity to undertake research and consultancy services independently as well as in collaboration with its stakeholders. It gives these services either upon the request of client organizations or by participating in open tenders.
ERCOE focuses on organizations and their management teams, and their growth into maturity, responsibility, and productivity. It can be described as a vehicle of a planned change process with an aim to make a difference in the organizations’ technology and their ways of doing things. The focal areas of ERCOE include performance improvement program (PIP), management of learning and leadership development, organizational development intervention, transferring organizations into “learning organizations”, providing learning resources to organizations and their members, and conducting research and consultancy services.
ERCOE carries out a performance improvement program (PIP) through vigorous assessment of the target organization’s current position and prevalent challenges and opportunities. Furthermore, it assists organizations in developing strategic plans and in outlining desired goals and objectives within specified timelines. This is done to allow organizations to determine their current “level of excellence” and determine where they need to focus their improvement efforts. Finally, it develops techniques of monitoring and evaluation against the envisaged plans. Organizations are said to be effective when they meet their espoused goals. The training offered is supposed to have multiplier effects of spreading the values of organizational excellence.
So far ERCOE has provided PIP services to nine ministries, 14 construction companies in all the six regions, 11 enterprises operated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Saving and Micro-Credit Program, the Eritrean Police, and the Colleges. It has also offered management and leadership training to associations and training of trainers to the Ministry of Defense.
ERCOE’s role in interventions on organizational development is to facilitate the process of work quality improvement policies and procedures and the drafting of strategic plans by organizations. It also provides learning resources to organizations and their members by publishing magazines, producing local films, and introducing e-learning and publication.
Based on the philosophy of continuous learning, ERCOE welcomes and encourages organizations that take part in the PIP interventions to convene for retreats. This event gives an opportunity for organizations to assess their organizational performance and can be described as a milestone in their journey of organizational excellence.
The impact of ERCOE’s intervention is evaluated through a neutral consultancy body, and at both the individual and organizational levels, the impact has been found to have been good. Some organizations have successfully institutionalized the frameworks and work system models promoted by ERCOE, but the center feels that at the community level additional efforts need to be made.
In the last 16 years, ERCOE has markedly stepped forward from its initial formative stage and is working to improve its institutional capacity. It offers a variety of workshops to enhance the professional and personal development of its staff. It employs four methods to achieve this: in-house training, where the senior staff intensively mentor and coach the junior staff; long-term training, short-term training, and study-tour to gain experience of work methods of related institutions.