Panagora’s Innovative CLA Methods Help Keep USAID’s Largest Project on Track

Mar 02 2018

Panagora Group – a woman-owned small business – brings its culture of agile responsiveness to data management and learning for the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project, which aims to ensure an uninterrupted supply of health commodities to save lives worldwide.

From commodity data analysis and website development to cultivating communities of excellence in country offices worldwide, Panagora is applying innovative Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) practices to real-world project implementation on a scale few have experienced at USAID.

Leading knowledge management and communications activities for the GHSC-PSM project, the team is building on proven practices like starting with formative assessments and designing solutions with participatory methods to achieve rapid results in an ever-changing environment. Implemented by prime contractor Chemonics International, GHSC-PSM works to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in global and national supply chains to ensure the uninterrupted supply of health commodities to USAID programs worldwide. Key to this success is ensuring that the right people at the right places in the health supply chain have the data and information they need to make key decisions about when and what commodities should be ordered to help save lives.

Assess and Test:

Within its first six months, the team completed a formative assessment of key audiences and project data users. This assessment included current and potentially new commodity suppliers, to identify the needs and expectations for the project’s website. Working with small business technology developer Bixal, the team designed and prototyped an open-sourced, adaptable website – This website is designed to grow and evolve over the course of the project lifecycle, as well as into future program iterations, as needed. The team then tested the prototype with key users, including USAID missions, and launched the site on time and on budget – within the first year of startup.

Success Breeds More Success: PPMR Data

Panagora staff prepares the project’s Procurement Planning and Monitoring Reports (PPMRs) for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS commodities. These reports serve a vital role because they provide detailed insights into country commodity stock levels, which help donors identify gaps and surpluses and make decisions to move stocks between countries to address those. If countries have too little stock, people may go without treatment. If countries have too much stock, they can experience costly waste due to expiry. Building on lessons learned, new technologies and data insights, and shared experiences under the GHSC-PSM umbrella, our team of PPMR data analysts are strengthening not only the accuracy of these reports but also expanding their use. The PPMR for HIV commodities was recently launched in Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia and soon will expand to Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda. Use of these data tools helps balance supplies. For example, in the first six years of using data from the PPMR for reproductive health commodities, stock outs declined from 14 percent to 8 percent in the participating countries.

Collaborating for Excellence: Champion Groups

GHSC-PSM provides commodities to approximately 60 countries (with country teams in 30) that range in size from two to more than 100. Panagora staff provides overarching guidance to KMC country-level activities and provide KMC country staff support. It can be a challenge supporting the varied country needs, as well as myriad demands at the headquarters level. However, the team has found that pulling staff together through champion groups – also known as communities of practice – is a practical, economical and effective way to build comradery, foster open communications and shared learning, and build core skill sets on a range of activities. To date, the group has shared learning and trainings on such topics as understanding USAID marking and branding requirements, to writing news updates and stories, to sharing new ways to design and visualize data.

CLA Works Well with Small-Business Edge

In many ways, team Panagora is finding success simply by building on what USAID already knows: using CLA strategies is a proven way to manage communications and knowledge management for projects, especially complex ones. The team is finding that being a small business working on USAID’s largest project has its advantages. Our agile and adaptable culture is a cornerstone to strong CLA.