Stocktaking Module FAQs

1. What is the difference between a mid-course stocktaking and an annual portfolio review?

Portfolio reviews and the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) mid-course stocktaking are complementary approaches for a Mission’s ongoing learning and adapting within the Program Cycle.

There are a few key differences between the two:

    • Stocktaking happens only once in the life of the Strategy while portfolio reviews are annual Stocktaking looks a the cumulative results from the strategy over a number of  years
    • Stocktaking will usually take more advance planning because the topics covered are responsive to the objectives of your specific mission
    • Stocktaking can be an opportunity to re-engage external stakeholders and bring new staff up to speed on the strategy
    • The stocktaking process and findings are documented in an Information  Memo that must be sent to Washington

Both processes play an important role, serving as key “pause and reflect” moments for the Mission to generate and apply continuous learning across a broad range of programmatic and operational approaches to better enable adaptive management. For more information on the differences, please see the annex to the Stocktaking How-To Note.

2. Since stocktakings are a requirement, is this module also a requirement?

3. What is the difference between this module and other USAID online trainings?

  • Think of this interactive module as a tutorial that allows for personalized feedback on your work. The module helps learners understand what a stocktaking is and also helps guide missions through the stocktaking planning process from start to finish. It offers advice on how to proceed while encouraging  missions to get the work done in a manner that works for them. It is full of videos containing tips and examples from missions that have conducted stocktaking processes in  very different operating environments.  The module helps the mission’s stocktaking planning team get on the same page from the beginning to foster a constructive, objectives-focused process.. Ultimately, the planning team will finish the module with a completed worksheet that will serve as the plan and draft agenda for the mission’s upcoming stocktaking. Missions can submit the worksheet to PPL staff in Washington who can provide additional feedback and guidance.  

4. Who is the audience for the module within the mission?

  • All mission staff are welcomed to explore the module so that they understand the stocktaking process. It is up to the mission’s stocktaking planning team to determine for whom the module is required and for whom it is recommended.  The module can be valuable in coordinating the planning team, and mission staff,  from the early phases of the process through carrying out the stocktaking itself.

5. Sounds good but we’re still at the early phase. How can I use this to get my leadership and/or mission on board with the stocktaking? They haven’t done this before and some people are unsure about the value of stocktaking. 

  • The module’s sections on “Overview” and “Benefits” are a great way to bring your leadership and mission on board and orient them to the purpose and value of the stocktaking process. There are two short video clips (Stocktaking clip 1 and Stocktaking clip 2) from FSO and FSN stocktaking “veterans” that can be shared during Senior Management meetings. The stocktaking planning team may also want to show some of the videos at all-hands meetings, as well as technical team meetings, to build awareness of and enthusiasm about the stocktaking process.

6. Should people take the module separately at their computers or together in one room?

  • While the course can be completed individually, we recommend that the stocktaking planning team complete the course as a team. Your team can meet as a group and follow along together. Or you can complete the online portions individually and schedule a time to meet as a group to complete the discussion and worksheet activities. See the next question for a proposed schedule. 

7. How long will this module take to complete and how soon before our planned stocktaking should we start using this module?

  • It depends. This will be highly variable for each Mission and for each individual based on her or his role.
  • We recommend a minimum of nine weeks, but earlier is better, especially if you plan to use outside facilitators, bring in Washington colleagues, and/or conduct site visits. Here is a schedule you might follow. The Planning section of the module has some great advice on this. 

8. We know we are planning to hire outside facilitators for our stocktaking. Can they look at the module?

  • Yes! They are able to view it through USAID Learning Lab.

9. We would like to address self-reliance in our stocktaking, can you offer any advice?

  • Yes, please reach out to [email protected]. We will update this FAQ as more information becomes available. 

10. I see that this module includes a worksheet and rubric . What is the purpose of these documents?

  • In most sections of this module, you are guided through the process of actually designing your stocktaking by capturing decisions on a worksheet that helps you assign roles and responsibilities, organize your “evidence base,” and draft an agenda. The worksheet helps organize these moving parts and is based on best practices. The rubric helps you assess the quality of your efforts and identifies where more effort might be needed. 

11. Who gives the feedback when we submit the worksheet and rubric?

  • When Missions use this module, PPL and Regional Bureaus will be working together to provide consolidated and timely feedback to Missions as they complete their worksheet and rubric.

12. Why didn’t you answer MY question?

13. We love the peer sharing aspect of the module, how can we submit our own documents to enhance others’ experience?

  • We’re so glad you asked! Please send any documents to [email protected] and we will keep a growing library of resources on the stocktaking page of Program Net. 

14. What type of technology do I need to use the module? 

  • To make optimal use of the module, you will need:
    • a current USAID-approved web browser (Google Chrome or Internet Explorer)
    • Speakers or headphones to listen to video and audio content
    • Standard USAID provided screen.
    • While it is possible to view the content on a mobile device, the content is not optimized for mobile use. If you experience delays in playing media, please contact [email protected] to explore the possibility of running a copy of the course on a local server to ensure you have full access to the multimedia content.

15. Who do I contact if I have trouble with the module (i.e. videos won’t play or there is a broken link)?

16. Can I get help with my stocktaking before I complete the module?

  • Please contact [email protected] if you would like assistance at any time during the module.