Step Up is among the five researchers/research teams granted with research funds by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to undertake a study on the best method to build the capacity of civil society organizations on open government data. The action research entitled “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” will be implemented in the next three months and is aimed at identifying the best approach to use in increasing citizen engagement with local governments through data sets published online.
The Step Up proposal was one of the more than 80 proposals screened by the OGP’s Open Data Working Group. Among the proposals submitted, Step Up made it to the top five, together with Open North, Inc of Canada, Mitrovic Development and Research Institute of South Africa, Mark Frank of the United Kingdom, and Sunlight Foundation of the United States. Step Up is the only research team from Asia.
Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Bohol United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC) to conduct a risk management training for its assisted entrepreneurs and entrepreneur groups last 28-29 November 2014. The training was conducted at the FCB Foundation Training in Tagbilaran City and was attended by more than 20 participants coming from different organizations and from different parts of Bohol.
Risk management is one of the key expertise of Step Up’s financial management division. As a process to ensure achievement of company objectives, risk management is about the identification and evaluation of company risks with the intention of avoiding these risks or managing them to minimize impact. In recent years, risk management is at the core of management function and has been used also in ensuring better internal audit and internal control.
The training was conducted by Arlen Salgados-Canares, Step Up’s lead consultant for financial services.
Step Up consulting was contracted by the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) to facilitate its Board Retreat. The strategy workshop of the organization was held at the CCT Retreat and Training Center last 21-22 November 2014. The event was attended by around 30 board members of the big CCT Family and approximately 30 members of its senior management. The topic for this year’s board retreat is ‘mentoring’. A resource person provided the overall context of the event, Mr. Peter Lees of Sharpeting Stone (Australia).
CCT is an organized Christian response against poverty and social injustice. This is carried out through the fusion of social development initiatives and evangelical mission in a uniquely Filipino context. It serves urban and rural poor communities throughout the Philippines, in pursuit of its desire to see changed lives, strong families, and transformed communities centered on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. From a single organization years back, CCT is now a group of 12 ministries or companies focusing on health, education, skills training, and spiritual transformation.
CCT’s board is composed of Christian businessmen who are at the helm key businesses in the country and engaged in property development, pharmaceuticals, car dealership, food and beverage, and retail supermarkets.
After five successful and profitable years of operation, the Rural Bank of Loboc, Inc. has grown in an unprecedented pace and achieved a set of financial indicators that speak of the bank’s operational sustainability. To revisit its directions and chart a new set of goals to 2020, the Board of Directors hired Step Up Consulting to facilitate the process to assist them in looking at their bank operations and plan for the next six years.
As a culminating event, a workshop was held at the bank’s office in Loboc, Bohol on 9 November 2014. The workshop was attended by 5 of its board of directors, one bank consultant, and all members of the staff. The workshop resulted to a strategic plan that the Board will pursue to 2020.
The Rural Bank of Loboc was conceptualized in early 2004 as a major component of The Grand Dreams for the Development of Loboc. This dream, which served as a guide for the administration of Mayor Calipusan, focused on key priority areas labeled as LITHOPE – which stands for livelihood, infrastructure, tourism, health, organizational strengthening, peace and order, and education. The idea then was to revive a previous proposal of converting the credit cooperative into a rural bank to finance development initiatives in the municipality. If this would not work, it was planned that local Lobocanons will be organized to set up a bank that would serve the town’s financing needs for agriculture, small and medium-scale enterprises, and other productive activities, with the end view of promoting economic growth and development of Loboc and the economic empowerment of the Lobocanons. The second route was decided as the most viable option.
To date, the Rural Bank of Loboc serves the financing needs of the town of Loboc and nearby municipalities.
Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Provincial Roads Management Facility to conduct mentoring activities for the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Misamis Occidental on audit communications and audit recommendations monitoring from August to October 2014. The highlights of the engagement were the conduct of mentoring workshops on the two topics.
The mentoring activity was intended to enable participants to understand the importance of monitoring and tracking internal audit recommendations; learn how to establish an effective internal audit monitoring system; and know the importance of communication and writing skills in providing effective and persuasive management advise. As part of the outputs of the mentoring process, the PIAO was able to draft an Audit Recommendations Monitoring process, and a draft Audit Communications Plan.
Step Up was greatly appreciated by the participants for the topics they learned and for the process the mentors used in conducting the mentoring activity. The participants rated the Step Up 9.33 out of 10. The Step Up team was composed of Alvin Luis Acuzar, Jean Celeste Paredes, and managing consultant Michael Canares.
Step Up was commissioned by Woord en Daad to conduct the Most Significant Change (MSC) Training for its partners in the Philippines and Bangladesh. The training was conducted at the CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center last 24-26 September 2014 and was participated in by 9 participants from the Philippines, 4 from Bangladesh, and 1 from the Netherlands, a representative of the commissioning organization.
Woord & Daad is an international development organization, established in the Netherlands, working in 20 countries with 29 partner organizations. A number of its partner organizations is interested in increasing capacity on learning through participatory methodologies. For this training, Woord en Daad chose Most Significant Change as the method to be implemented by two of its partners in the Philippines and one partner from Bangladesh.
MSC involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. It intends to capture project outcomes, and in some cases, impact without having to use project or program indicators.
The participants were very impressed with the results of the training. The post-training evaluation of participants showed that Step Up scored very high in training facilitation, logistics, planning, and design. The main trainer was Michael Canares and Step Up handled all training logistical arrangements, from the design of training bags to the choice of training materials. Step Up will also provide post-training support to the organizations as they conduct their pilot implementation of MSC in their respective organizations.
The Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC) contracted Step Up Consulting to conduct a series of financial management training for its member organizations, assisted cooperatives, individual entrepreneurs, and people’s associations . The training on Basic Financial Management was conducted last 27-28 August 2014 at the FCB Foundation training room.
The training is the first of a series of training activities on financial management sponsored by BUSWACC. Ms. Arlen Canares, training specialist on financial management of Step Up was the resource person for the activity.
The participants appreciated the learning sessions that focused on the importance of recording, financial analysis, cash management, and internal control. The workshop employed a variety of training methodologies that enabled the participants not only to learn the concepts but also try specific skills on their own. Financial management training is one of the core expertise of the firm.
The City Government of Tagbilaran completed the review of its Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA) last August 23, 2014. The three-day workshop, which culminated the series of preparatory workshops, fine-tuned the city’s ELA that was prepared in July 2013 before the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. And since the planning parameters changed dramatically, the need to come up with a plan that is relevant to the needs of the people and the City Government has become a necessity.
The event was attended by Mayor Baba Yap and the city department heads, the Sangguniang Panlungsod led by Vice-Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso and the city councilors, civil society representatives, representatives from the national government agencies, and the barangay captains. The workshop came up with prioritized the programs, projects, and activities that the city government will prioritize in 2015. Among these are the completion of the city hall’s repair, the provision of social and economic programs, and the needed rehabilitation of public infrastructure.
Step Up’s managing consultant, Mr. Michael Canares was the facilitator of the whole process including the pre-workshop activities that were conducted prior to the three-day workshop.
The Provincial Road Management Facility engaged Step Up Consulting to coach or mentor the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Lanao del Norte in order to strengthen the capacity of PIAO in three areas – conduct of audit engagement, audit report writing, and audit compliance monitoring system. The Step Up team was composed of Managing Consultant Michael Canares and Alvin Luis Acuzar, Learning Manager.
The mentoring process involved a combination of the following: (1) On-site mentoring consisting of a three-day theory-building exercise with concrete application on the audit of one priority risk area of the Provincial Engineer’s Office of Lanao del Norte.; and (2) and online mentoring on the actual engagement process and the writing of audit report. For this purpose, Step Up made use of Facebook as an online mentoring platform.
As a result of the engagement, the PIAO of the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte was able to prepare its first Audit Engagement Plan which documents the planned, strategic, objective-based approach in conducting the audit of the Provincial Engineer’s Office. Conducting the audit activities based on planned work program is just part of the audit fieldwork process. The critical and important part is the audit documentation process through the preparation of working papers that became the basis in the preparation of audit findings and recommendations. The internal audit office was able to show improved competence both in the area of audit evidence-gathering and audit documentation. Finally, based on the results of the fieldwork as documented by the working papers, the Internal Audit Office was able to prepare audit findings and recommendations.
According to PIAO chief Chirelyn Leopoldo, the mentoring approach used by Step Up Consulting enabled them to learn audit concepts and apply them in actual work situations. As a result, they were able to complete a full audit cycle and prepare the audit report which they have recently presented to the Provincial Engineering Office, the auditee in this case.
Internal audit in the context of local government units is one of the expertise of Step Up Consulting. To date, it has assisted the provinces of Bohol, Bukidnon, Guimaras, Davao del Norte and Lanao del Norte.
Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Provincial Road Management Facility to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in reviewing its Local Road Management Performance Assessment Tool (LRMPAT), a tool in assessing the performance of local government units. A consultative workshop was done with representatives of regional offices of DILG across the country last 22-23 May 2014 at The Linden Suites in Ortigas, Manila.
The Local Road Management Performance Assessment (LRMPA) Consultative Workshop started at 8:45 a.m. on 22 May with an opening program where Ms. Ruby Romero of DILG – SLRF thanked the PRMF Team and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government for the support and partnership with DILG. For his part, Mr. Luke McNamara, Capacity Development Manager of PRMF emphasized the importance of sharing insights and experiences in the course of the workshop to further understand and improve the LRMPAT.
The LRMPAT was developed in 2012 when Mr. Canares was still the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator of PRMF. The tool was pilot-tested in select cities and provinces in the same year to serve as input to the tool’s final revision. Mr. Ronet Santos was then contracted by PRMF to facilitate the whole process. In 2013, DILG rolled-out the implementation of the tool nationally and thus the need to hear the perspectives of those conducting the assessments in the provinces and cities.
A total of 46 participants attended the two-day workshop. Mr. Michael Canares was the lead facilitator of the activity while Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes was its documenter.