From project idea to EU project structure (part 2)

Published on 3 May 2018 by Tomislav Rozman

Last week I wrote about how to start transforming your idea into EU project proposal language (1. pain point -->2. reasons for pain point --> 3. who says so --> 4. how would you solve it --> 5. match EU2020 targets --> 6. product/solution). Within this post I will continue and show you how to prepare aims, objectives and project outputs.

Why am I explaining this?

  1. Reason: EU funds are one of my company’s important sources of financing. In the last few years, we have managed or participated in 8 international projects with several more in the queue. So yes, even for small companies there are appropriate EU funds.
  2. Reason: It’s not a rocket science. I mean, you don’t have to save the world with your idea/project to get funds.
  3. Reason: Yesterday I read an announcement of EU long-term budget for 2021-2027 with some important changes (among others):
  • the budget for educational projects will DOUBLE (e.g. for Erasmus+),
  • the budget for digital transformation will increase 9 FOLD,
  • the budget for research will increase by 50% (e.g. Horizon).

This is actually very good news! The proposed budget changes mean more winning chances for your projects, especially if you’re into ‘intellectual projects’ (IT, education, mobility, networks, R&D).

Let’s continue with our 2nd example from the previous post. We have defined a pain point: unemployable youngsters due to the outdated education system. Let’s say we want to upskill them in the field of emerging technologies (IoT).

If you remember, our high-level idea was:

  1. What is the pain point and who has it? (Unemployment rate of the youngsters is X%)
  2. What is the reason behind the pain point? (Education system that does not prepare youngsters for today’s job demands.)
  3. Who says so? (National statistics from countries …, Employers…)
  4. How would you solve it? (by developing a curriculum in the field of IoT and trainings for 500 young entrepreneurs from countries X, Y Z…)
  5. Which EU2020 headline targets will your solution contribute? (Our solution will contribute to: Education/rates of early school leavers below 10% and Poverty and social exclusion/ at least 20 million fewer people in – or at risk of – poverty/social exclusion)
  6. What is the concrete product or service? (Training content, blended trainings and national training centres)

Let’s put our idea into a frame (‘logical project framework’).

You are not saving the world with your project. You are only contributing a little piece into the bigger puzzle (EU headline targets).

Logical framework (LF) for a project

LF is a simple document, a 4x4 matrix that helps you clarify your project’s vision. It connects high-level project aims with measurable objectives, outputs, activities and KPIs, assumptions and sources of verification.

Based on the previous example, let’s fulfil the first column of the project logical framework for now:

Logframe tool: here

Projects goals

(overall broader objective)

  • More skilled young people in the field of emerging IoT field.
  • Knowledge transfer of best practices between IT companies and educational institutions.

Project purposes

(specific objectives)

  • 20 educated IoT trainers
  • 500 educated IoT trainees with certificates
  • 5 national training centres

Project Outputs

  • IO (intellectual output) 1: Detailed needs analysis in the field of IoT
  • IO2: Best practices handbook
  • IO3: Training centres business model and operation rules
  • IO4: Curriculum & syllabus
  • IO5: Learning content
  • IO6: E-learning platform
  • IO7: Piloting of the course

Project activities

For each IO, we have to prepare a list of tasks that are needed to produce it:

IO1 (needs analysis, example):

  • A1.1 Preparation of questionnaires
  • A1.2 Identification of respondents / contents
  • A1.3 Analysis of questionnaires
  • A1.4 Preparation of users’ needs analysis report
  • A1.5 Preparation of curriculum gap report

IO2 (best practices):

  • A2.1 Analysis of EU countries (level of training / educational maturity)
  • A2.2 Selection of countries
  • A2.3 Identification of good practices
  • A2.4 Design of the methodology for good practices selection according to different criteria
  • A2.5 Selection and presentation of the best practices

IO3 (training centres):

  • A3.1 Extract of business model best practices
  • A3.2 Comparison of business model elements
  • A3.3 Design of the business model draft
  • A3.4 Preparation of the manual, organizational structure
  • A3.5 Preparation of the model contract for trainers

IO4 (curriculum & syllabus, example):

  • A4.1 Definition of needs
  • A4.2 Formulation of learning objectives
  • A4.3 Selection of content topics
  • A4.4 Selection of the learning resources
  • A4.5 Evaluation criteria for trainees
  • A4.6 Harmonization among partners

IO5 (learning content, example):

  • A5.1 Preparation of the list of contents
  • A5.2 Definitions scope of the content
  • A5.3 Learning/time plan
  • A5.4 Preparation the list of resources
  • A5.5 Preparation of Textbook for students
  • A5.6 Preparation of Guidelines for teachers/trainers
  • A5.7 Preparation of Instructions for practical assignments
  • A5.8 Preparation of Instructional videos (min 1 per module)
  • A5.9 Quality check

IO6: (E-learning, example)

  • A6.1 Choose the platform
  • A6.2 Content preparation to fit the platform
  • A6.3 Technical configuration
  • A6.4 Content transfer to the platform (implementation)
  • A6.5 Choose test users
  • A6.6 Test run
  • A6.7 Adjustments / fine tuning
  • A6.8 Final validation

IO7 (pilot course, example):

  • A7.1 Preparation of the description of a pilot course
  • A7.2 Pilot testing
  • A7.3 Pilot implementation
  • A7.4 Evaluation of pilot results

As you’ve probably noticed, we have defined 7 Intellectual Outputs (this name of the outputs is specific to Erasmus+ projects) and for each IO we have defined several activities/tasks. The list is not complete, but you can guess the logic behind it. Up to 10 IOs is more than enough. H2020 projects have slightly different output structure (WPs - Workpackages instead of Intellectual Outputs), but again, the logic behind it is very similar.

For now, we have left out the indicators, resources and assumptions.

Next time we’ll continue with further refinement of the project idea and fit it into Erasmus+ KA2 call specifics. We’ll also take a look at the specific intellectual output types of the E+ projects. But first, budgeting ->!

SUCCEED project - training activity - visit of LIST research centre in Luxembourg in Apr. 2018 (an example of E+ KA2 project activity).

Further reading

This article is a part of mini-series for EU project managers and proposal writers:

Part 1: How do you turn your idea into something worth funding?

Part 2 (this one): From project idea to EU project structure

Part 3: How to calculate the EU project budget 

Part 4: How do you choose your life partner (ups, I mean EU project partner)?