Definitions and Core Principles of Technical Assistance

You need Adobe Flash Player to view some content on this site.

Click to install Adobe Flash Player

The first type of TA that usually comes to people’s minds is direct technical assistance, provided onsite over an extended period of time. This is the most resource intensive type of TA, so if money is short it is beneficial to consider whether another method, such as indirect TA, which may have the same impact on the beneficiary organization with less cost. This chapter will cover all types of technical assistance by focusing on key terminology within the world of technical assistance. This chapter will explore the characteristics of the request phase of technical assistance, from origination to response.

Below are key definitions that will assist you through this lesson.

Technical assistance (TA): The process of providing targeted support to an organization with a development need or problem.

TA provider: The person or organization providing the technical assistance or consulting services.

Beneficiary organization: The organization that is receiving the technical assistance or consulting services.

TA engagement: TA provision that has a well-defined relationship and scope of work. In this lesson, a TA engagement will refer to TA service that is provided over a period of time rather than a request that is answered immediately or through a single interaction.

Indirect technical assistance: When providing indirect technical assistance, the TA provider points a beneficiary organization to media or tools that they can use such as a manual, web-based resource, or a staff member of another organization.

Direct technical assistance: Provide coaching or consulting services, personally applying expertise to their problem or area of need. This can be done onsite, at the location of the organization, or offsite/virtually via telephone, email, or fax.

Click to open interactivity Test your knowledge of key definitions of technical assistance.

Test your knowledge of key definitions of technical assistance.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view some content on this site.

Click to install Adobe Flash Player

The core principles of technical assistance will shape your TA engagements.

While each technical assistance engagement will vary in duration, topic, form, and structure, it should be shaped using the following principles:

Collaborative. Work jointly with the organization’s staff to identify underlying needs and long term goals of the capacity building engagement.

Systematic. Use a systematic approach when providing technical assistance, such as the approach outlined in the previous section.

Targeted. Determine what areas of the organization have the greatest need, and where technical assistance will have the greatest impact. Target your efforts on those areas.

Adaptive. As the technical assistance provider, you must remain adaptive throughout the engagement. Be flexible according to the needs of the beneficiary organization.

Customized. Respond to the unique needs of each beneficiary organization by designing and delivering tailored technical assistance engagements.

Asset-based. Organizations, like people, can more easily build on strengths than develop brand new competencies. Every organization has its own unique pool of resources and relationships from which it can draw. Technical assistance should help the organization identify, engage, and leverage the assets that exist.

Accountable. Create a mutual agreement, such as a Memorandum of Understanding, and draft a work plan that outlines specific actions and responsibilities.

Results-driven. Identify measures that indicate improvements in management practices or organizational performance, and track those measures to prove that the TA had real, measurable results.

The tools in this lesson will assist you with the process of developing a system for TA provision and appropriately managing change within a beneficiary organization.

Click to open interactivity Match the core principles with the corresponding qualities of effective technical assistance.

Match the core principles with the corresponding qualities of effective technical assistance.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view some content on this site.

Click to install Adobe Flash Player