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If you are developing your process for TA provision or refining your current process, using a systematic approach is a good place to start. Establishing a systematic approach ensures that all beneficiary organizations get equal treatment and increases the likelihood of high quality technical assistance. The four phases in a systematic approach to technical assistance are request, analyze, implement, and evaluate. As with most processes, these phases are not always done in a linear fashion. You will continue to analyze as you implement, and you could evaluate mid-way through a long-term, extended TA engagement. This chapter will explore the characteristics of the request phase of technical assistance, from origination to response.

In the first phase, the leadership of the beneficiary organization makes a request for TA.

A request for TA can develop in a variety of ways. The leadership of the beneficiary organization could submit a proposal asking for large-scale support, approach you in the middle of a TA engagement with an emergency, or call you with an informal question. Regardless of how the request originates, there is key information that can be gleaned and documented from the request:

  • Basic information, such as the organization’s name and date of request.
  • Narrative description of the presenting problem and requested assistance.
  • Preliminary analysis of underlying issues and needs contributing to the presenting problem.
  • TA action necessary to “fix” the problem.
Click to open interactivity Designing an approach to managing TA requests.

Designing an approach to managing TA requests.

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There are three responses you may have to a technical assistance request.

After that information has been gleaned, there are three responses you might have.

1. “Yes, I can help you right now.”

If the request requires little action and can be met within the same conversation, you are providing immediate TA. You might answer their question, look up some information, offer a brochure or a manual, or direct them to a website.

2. “Yes, we can work with you.”

This answer is, in effect, what you say to an organization that you have the resources and the skills and knowledge to assist. If this is your answer, you will move through the remaining phases of this systematic approach to TA.

3. “I’m sorry we can’t help you with that. Some resources that may be able to help you include…”

This is a rejection or a referral. Either way, you are redirecting them away from your TA services. If you are also a training provider, you may refer them to your training calendar. Or there may be another TA provider in your area that can help them.