Monday, 29 August 2016

Interview - Subrat Das

Subrat Das,
Executive Director, CBGA

Q: As the head of a Think Tank, what in your opinion are the advantages of working in a consortium?

The biggest advantage of a consortium model is that it allows its different members to bring in different skills, experience and expertise. In a geographically vast country or region, it might be easier when different consortium partners can cover different regions, thus increasing the outreach of the project. A consortium has the ability to carry out projects on a scale that individual organisations cannot, because collaborating partners would be sharing their resources (in terms of manpower/ skills, etc.) which in turn reduces overheads.The benefit to funders is that it enables them to consolidate their investments. Through resource sharing, they can get partnering organisations to deliver the intended result more effectively and efficiently.

Q: Are there any specific points you keep in mind while identifying appropriate members/organisations to work with in a consortium?
  • The idea behind joining a consortium is to build positive synergies, and hence we need to be very careful about the compatibility of the perspectives of other partner groups with ours.
  • Identifying appropriate partners is key—the partner organisations should have suitable skills, capacity and time. They should be adding significant value to the project.
  • The participating organisations should be chosen based on their capability or strengths to deliver.

Q: What are the typical challenges that you face when working in a consortium?

Effective coordination plays an important part in driving a consortium. But this can be difficult if the consortium is too large or if partners are a long way away (geographical separation) from each other.Sustaining a consortium also becomes difficult when some of the partners of the consortium are not able to retain key staff. A huge challenge with the consortium approach is maintaining timelines, especially when all member organisations are not willing to follow the agreed processes with the same level of seriousness.

Q: Have you felt any differences while working on a project, as an independent organisation and while working in a consortium? If so, can you briefly give an example?

When working on a project independently, we usually get more freedom to make changes to the plans as and when necessary. The advantages of an effective consortium model do not come automatic, and it needs a lot of initial ground work—setting up processes of participation, model, scope of work, methods of working, etc. It is generally difficult to carry out very large projects independently, and entering into a consortium provides the opportunity to increase efficiency. Also, any risk with the project is entirely with us when working independently.

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