Open Standards Step 3: Implement Actions and Monitoring

Based on the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, version 3, April 2013

As mentioned in previous issues, SWAP 2015 Update is using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation developed by the Conservation Measure Partnership as its planning approach. The June issue introduced readers to the five step process and explored Step 1: Conceptualize.  The July issue discussed Step 2: Plan Actions and Monitoring.

SWAP Cycle

SWAP Cycle

The series continues with an overview of Step 3: Implement Actions and Monitoring. The authors of Open Standards consider this as the most important step in the entire adaptive management cycle process. This step puts all of the planning efforts conducted in the previous steps into action. It involves developing and implementing specific work plans while ensuring sufficient resources, capacity, and partners. This step includes:

Developing a Detailed Short-Term Work Plan and Timeline
In the previous steps of the project cycle, general action, monitoring, and operational plans were developed. Ordinarily, in this phase of the cycle, these general plans would be further developed into more specific plans – and then implemented on an ongoing basis. Because these plans were developed as part of a larger, more comprehensive statewide action plan that will not be implemented until 2015, the SWAP 2015 Update will contain a placeholder for this step, pending a regional decision to move forward with implementation. At that time, a specific short-term work plan covering the first six months (or at most a year-and-a-half) will be developed. This work plan will use overall actions, monitoring, and operational plans to specify in much greater detail:

  • What specific activities and tasks are required to complete each planned strategy, monitoring step, or operational function,
  • Who will be responsible and who will be accountable for completing each activity and task,
  • When will each task be undertaken and what will be the sequence of linked activities and tasks, and
  • How much money and other resources will be needed to complete each activity and task.

The detailed work plans will provide the basis for developing a project timeline or calendar. In some situations, the work plan will not only specify tasks and responsibilities, it will also record in a calendar format when these tasks will happen. The work plan will also help identify needed staff resources. This information is important for developing the project budget.

Developing the Project Budget
Once the tasks and activities have been identified, the necessary resources needed to implement the project can be determined. Analysis of the operational plan developed in Step 2, the strategic plan and the work plan will assist with the development of a more refined estimate of costs for specific activities and tasks and the broader strategies into which those tasks feed.

Since the work plan is short-term in nature, some informed estimates projecting potential costs over the life of the project will have to be made. Because there is often a long lead time to fund projects, the project budget should be developed as soon as feasibly possible. For many projects, the most expensive resource need will be staff time. Other major expenses to consider are capital expenditures and logistical support that the project might need, ranging from monitoring and management expenses, to administrative or logistical support. Once the project budget has been developed, potential funding sources need to be identified.

Implement Strategic and Work Plans
The next and most important part of Step 3 is to implement the strategic plan and the more detailed work plan according to schedule and within budget. This includes implementing both the actions and the monitoring.