EU project management Q&A #3
Erika asks, Tomislav answers, part #3
Erica, one of our EU project manager course attendees asked ‘a few’ questions related to course materials. Questions made me think: If those answers can not be easily found within the learning materials, we have to explain them also for the others.
Erica agreed and we are publishing this Q&A session for you, dear EU project manager, to make your life easier.
This is the 3rd part (of 4).
Tomislav Rozman, BICERO team
Questions & answers part #3
21. What does ‘RPs’ abbreviation mean? Reports?
Yes, RP means report.
22. What does "actions with one or several RPs and interim payment" mean?
Example: A 2 EU year project usually requires 2 mandatory reports (after 1st year, after finish) and initial, interim and final payment.
23. When searching for the reporting dates, I could only find the following information but not the exact dates. How can I know the dates corresponding to X? Or would this be decided later on?
- RP1: from month 1 to month [X]
- RP2: from month [X+1] to month [Y]
- Final report: request for payment of the balance. The coordinator must submit within 60 days following the end of the reporting period.
The actual dates (X and Y) are defined within the Grant Agreement, which is signed by the lead partner at the beginning of the project.
Moreover, the reporting periods are defined in each call guide or model grant agreement (can be found on the webpages of the specific calls).
24. Regarding the question "Are the payments to external experts eligible and how they would be implemented?" You commented on the following: External experts could be hired through the 'subcontracting' budget heading. Where did you find this? I couldn't find it within the call
Search the programme guide for ‘exceptional costs’ or ‘sub-contracting’.
Some calls allow external experts, some don’t.
Support for sub-contracting costs that are necessary to the implementation of the project, including, in particular, costs for the compulsory financial audits (audit certificate) and for any external quality assurance procedure. Sub-contracting for project-management-related tasks is not eligible.
Sub-contracting to external bodies should be very occasional. The specific competences and particular expertise needed to reach the project objectives should be found in the consortium and should determine its composition.
In your call, see article 10 (pg. 23):
10.1.1 If necessary to implement the action, the beneficiaries may award subcontracts
covering the implementation of certain action tasks described in Annex 1.
Subcontracting may not cover the core of the action.
25. What does CMP-FFF.ACR-R0A mean? I would like to understand it so I can use this terminology when creating a communication plan.
You’re referring to the 2nd example in section 8 (assignment). CMP stands for Communication Management Plan. Other abbreviations are related to the internal document management naming standards (e. g. project name, designation). Each org. or project has different naming conventions.
R0A stands for revision number.
26. What are differentiated appropriations and non-differentiated appropriations? I couldn't understand it well.
Appropriation is when money is set aside money for a specific and particular purpose or purposes. This is one of the principles of EU financial management.
Differentiated appropriations are split into commitment appropriations and payment appropriations.
Appropriations for commitments and payments often differ because multiannual programmes and projects are usually committed in the year they are decided and are paid over the years as the implementation of the programme and project progresses.
Operations extending over more than one financial year have a deadline attached, i.e. a date by which the relevant projects must be completed.
Non-differentiated appropriations are those where commitments and payments are the same. In practice, they include administrative expenditure, repayments to Member States, EAGGF expenditure (European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, Guarantee Section), and guarantees for loans, all categories of expenditure for which there is, by their very nature, no time-lag between the legal commitment of the expenditure and its payment. The expenditure is, therefore, approved and effected within a single financial year.
An example (not strictly the same as from EU financial management viewpoint, but for better understanding):
Let’s think about the appropriations from the company’s viewpoint. If you sign the contract (commitment) and get a first pre-payment for a project on Nov. (for the 1st year of the project), you have to ‘reserve’ the money (within your accounting system) and declare the distribution of funds for the next year. Otherwise this income will show up as a profit on your annual report and you don’t want that, because it will be taxed.
27. What are the most common Hierarchical communications channels?
(related to the Communication plan example 2)
Within the project’s communication plan you need to define how the communication will flow between superiors and subordinates.
Example: if you are a member of a project team at partner 1 in the consortium and you have a question for the EU officer (a member of the EU authority) which is responsible for your project, the communication will flow in written form like this:
You (project team member) → Your PM → Project coordinator → EU officer
Within the project team you decide if you want to have flat organization (anyone can communicate with anyone) or more hierarchical (as shown above). Each type of organization has its advantages and disadvantages. Flatter hierarchical structure means faster communication, but at the same time it can cause more chaos.
One of the common communication flows related to task distribution/reporting looks like this:
You (project team member) → Your PM → Partner’s PM → Partner’s personnel
Or, you can define the following scenario within the CMP: Operative communication about task details:
You (project team member) → Partner’s personnel
About communication tools: I suggest a healthy mix of email, chats, #slack, video conferences and meetings. Each for its own purpose.
28. Does the European Commission provide templates/examples of certain documentation such as Communication/dissemination/quality plans?
29. Would it be possible to get examples of a technical and financial report?
Only a part of the technical report is usually available for the ‘public’ (publishable summary). You can find these in project result databases such https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/projects_en.
Example of Horizon report (template), which includes general, technical and financial part:
30. What are all the methods and instruments for the evaluation of deliverable quality?
There are too many deliverable types and possible quality factors / methods / instruments to mention them all.
Quality methods and instruments depend on the deliverable type.
If you are checking the quality of the event/training, you will probably measure the satisfaction of the attendees using the questionnaire. Or use the NPS (net promoter score).
If you are checking the quality of the mobile application, you will probably check/compare the app functionalities with the software specifications or use the standard ISO 9126 (Software Engineering - Product Quality).
If you’re checking the quality of the production, you could use SPC (statistical process control).