Efren Carandang, 2015

PAHRODF Case Studies

Results Story 17:  Strategic Planning

A Comprehensive Plan for More Focused Initiatives

Very much like a detailed map, a long-term strategic plan is a pre-requisite to help guide an organisation’s direction and activities.  NAMRIA (National Mapping and Resource Information Authority), prior to PAHRODF’s (Philippines Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility) intervention, had no such plan.

Actually, NAMRIA has undergone various interventions from PAHRODF since 2007, including a 2010 intervention that netted the agency an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certification in 2012 for mapping and special information. But, it wasn’t until 2011, after an organisational assessment undertaken by HRODF that the lack of a long-term strategic plan for the NAMRIA and the role of HR in its management plan were identified.

The ISO certification neatly tucked under NAMRIA’s belt actually propelled the agency to pursue interventions all the more, including one for strategic planning. The plan, crafted over a six-month period in 2013, helped define its strategic mission, vision and strategy. “As part of our continuous improvement, we need to be guided by a strategic plan as we implement our projects, programmes and activities, year after year,” Mr. Efren Carandang, NAMRIA’s  deputy administrator shares.

Mr. Carandang cites that, fortunately, NAMRIA is very open to interventions and their positive experiences with PAHRODF and the Learning Service Providers (LSP) seem to have encouraged them even more. “We have very good experience with PAHRODF. Their consultants are very generous, very accommodating. PAHRODF is very flexible. We actually had some instances where we had to change the plan along the way and they accommodated these changes.The LSPs, they’re very good. They’re experts in their own fields,” he happily notes.

The role of NAMRIA is quite a critical one. As the central mapping and resource information agency of the national government, they provide mapping services to both government agencies and the general public. Charged not only with the management of geospatial information, NAMRIA also manages the geospatial or map holdings of other government agencies. “We assist the national government in the delineation and limitation of territories, and provide the basic reference for all mapping activities in the country,” he narrates. They are currently in the process of compiling everything so this can be available in a geoportal site that can be accessed by everyone.

Until the establishment of NAMRIA in the ‘80s, there was no centralised mapping agency in the country. LGUs (Local Government Units) had their own mapping services, as did the other government agencies like the Physical Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs) and others. The result was chaos, marked by overlapping jurisdictions and inaccuracies that hampered government efforts especially at disaster preparedness. With NAMRIA in the picture consolidating all these maps into one, confusion about location-based decisions and details has become a thing of the past.

Holistic initiatives

Zeroing in on the strategic planning intervention’s Re-entry Action Plan (REAP), meant to apply the learnings to address organisational gaps, Mr. Carandang relates that this is focused on implementing the 12 point programme or 12 strategic initiatives borne out of the plan. In broad strokes, these initiatives are geared to respond to the needs of the times, the requirements of the national and local governments, as well as the general public. Although an ongoing concern, this is very much in line with the agency’s vision of having a geospatially empowered Philippines by 2020. As he explains it, “This means that government, business, and the people, will be using geospatial or map information in making decisions in the conduct of their day-to-day activities.”

To further stress the importance of NAMRIA’s role and the relevance of these maps in our lives, Mr. Carandang shares that eighty percent of decisions made by government, business, and even ordinary people are location based, an all-too often forgotten fact. “So the more location information people have, the better decisions they make. Even simple things like planning where to go and how to get there are made easier if you have the right map. The more detailed, the better the decision.”

Thankfully, with a strategic plan now in place, everything is proceeding quite systematically. All activities contained in the plan are now incorporated in NAMRIA’s annual budget proposals unlike in the past. “Everything is guided now. Unlike before where we just craft our plans from year to year. Right now it’s a long term plan,” Mr. Carandang relates. Fortunately, they too are getting the financial support from the administration and being allocated the budget required.

To add to this, NAMRIA’s approach has also become more holistic, incorporating the elements of the strategic plan in the other organisational developmental interventions now being implemented. “We have our strategic performance management system. We have our competency based system for recruitment, hiring, placement, promotion, etc. - also part of the implementation of our continual improvement based on our ISO certification,” he shares.

Significantly, NAMRIA has also begun to take their stakeholders’ plans into account before making decisions. “We do a lot of consultation and interaction with the other government agencies about their future needs,” he says. If they used to plan projects before without even consulting their end users, the customers – government agencies and the private sector, are now very much a part of the process. He recounts how well-received this initiative has been with the stakeholders. “During the closing of our strategic plan process, we invited our stakeholders and we presented the output. The reaction was very positive. They had a better understanding of the agency. And well, in a sense they had higher expectations from us because they now know what we can do for them.”

To this end, perhaps the most important outcome achieved by the intervention is on national initiatives, especially disaster management issues. “Our role is to provide support and the tools to make better decisions. That is very important,” he declares. Dealing closely with other government agencies such as PhiVolcs, PAGASA, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation has helped NAMRIA produce relevant data on the maps that these agencies need, particularly in priority areas. “With detailed maps, you can make detailed plans. And that goes as well for local government units, especially in terms of their national preparedness plans,” he stresses.

Commitment and motivation

For Mr. Carandang, time, budget and getting their middle managers in the loop have been their greatest challenge in the implementation of the action plan. “We’re doing a lot of things, undergoing a lot of interventions. So everything is going on at the same time.” Likewise, the agency has had to shell out some funds for logistical support to implement different projects because not everything can be shouldered by the Facility. With their middle managers, he says thatthey have had to patiently explain how everything gels together and what their roles are.

For him, all these have exacted even more commitment – in time, effort, and even in enthusiasm. “Commitment, it’s really commitment. And encouragement really,” he says. The ISO certification in fact, has proven to be a powerful motivation for the organisation as it is a testament to their efforts. “They know and accept it as part of the continuing improvement of our services,” he shares.

Mr. Carandang is pleased to note that the fruits of their strategic planning intervention is now becoming more evident within NAMRIA and in their output. “We have a well-motivated and well informed work force. They know their goals, the direction that we are taking. If we consult our stakeholders, they expect the result will be products and services that will cater to the actual needs of the stakeholders and not merely what we perceived for them. We have a clearer picture,” he proudly declares.

He shares that NAMRIA has always envisioned being able to deliver timely, relevant, quality land and sea maps, including related geospatial services, while effectively and efficiently managing their internal resources. “This is to support the full socio-economic-environmental and developmental activities of all sectors”. Mr. Carandang admits though that while this may have been the intention, this was never fully realised since they lacked a comprehensive plan. It was actually only with the help of the interventions that their plan was concretised.

As a result, he only hopes that PAHRODF can continue on. Addressing the facility, he says, “We are fully satisfied with the help that we received from HRODF. To HRODF, thank you very much for all the help that you have been giving to our agency. You have done a lot for us but we would still be very happy to still be engaged in your activities in the coming years.”

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