Accueil > Governance > Daily management : the critical role of a professional operator

Daily management : the critical role of a professional operator

vendredi 21 janvier 2011, par julien

Our up-front initial choice was to have a truly professional management team to address all legal, administrative and financial issues. This bears a cost, which is not in proportion with the size of the contract. The EC 7% limit has a completely different meaning with a 15 million euro project and a 6 million one, while, between both, experience has shown that the management activities do not vary very much… Thus, if we wanted to be professional we needed to share. The supporting organisation of the coordinator, ARMINES, was chosen because it had decided to build a dedicated team for European projects made of young management professionals (4 people at master level and an average age under 30 !) and because it had a portfolio of large projects to manage (including another NoE). Competences could thus be shared and experience accumulated.
The annual management reports account for the work done, the procedures developed, the effective functioning of network governance, the involvement of partners, the financial allocations made and transversal issues such as Gender balance or ethical issues.
It also helped in sharing the development of a web-based management platform, ( which also became the official archive of the NoE. Such a platform has theoretically three interests.
(a) It helps in making the whole project visible and accessible to partners : all minutes from the Executive Committee are available (and especially all those about selection, with arguments for or against projects) ; all financial allocations are known, an important issue when there are no ex ante allocations ;
(b) it keeps all deliverables and official outputs of the project. The Commission – and its reviewers – found it difficult to track all elements, and this was the answer we developed in order to facilitate access and understanding about the developments of a multi-dimensional initiative.
(c) It is a communication and interaction tool, to make the relations with the EC officers (scientific and financial) more fluid. It should help them to follow the project real time.

But from theory to practice, there is quite a distance. The first two objectives were partly successful, meaning that a number of groups and organisations (those most involved in the life of the network) used it on a regular basis, while the others always asked by e-mail before using the facilities at hand. It is worth noting that the Governing Board has always been very positive on ARMINES management, that all the annual monitoring reviews by the Commission have praised the professionalism of PRIME daily management. This does not mean that there were not tensions in a few bilateral relations, which the coordinator ended up being involved into. His views are that most cases were associated with the difficulties university administrations face to cope with EC ever changing rules (and in particular dealing with the audit certificates, see page on Prime relations with the Commission). Our real surprise was that EC officials did not take at all advantage of the archive : traditional paper-based management prevailed in our relationships, accumulating hurdles as time passed (see below).