Planning a self-assessment in 2018? Here are 14 tips from fellow members!

15 December 2017

In June 2017 we organised a webinar to collect learnings and recommendations from our members who have completed their self-assessment process. Here is what we learned from our members Mission East, CARE International, Concern Worldwide and the British Red Cross. Thank you for sharing these very helpful tips!


  • The self-assessment steering committee should include representatives from various  internal departments or teams in order to foster ownership of the process across the organisation;
  • It would make more sense to make the self-assessment a step within a broader accountability strategy rather than having it as a stand-alone exercise. It would be followed by an improvement plan which could be used to target specific actions in line with organisational priorities;
  • When communicating on the self-assessment, repeat time and again that the process has first and foremost a learning purpose. This will contribute to creating the space for more in-depth, meaningful discussions, rather than a compliance approach;
  • In order to get the buy-in of senior management and staff, link the process to what people know. In particular, highlight how the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) relates to existing policies and procedures, be it accountability-related or other topics;
  • For organisations which are members of a federation, an important step includes getting the buy-in from other members of the federation. This must be done right from the start, as findings might include needs for improvement and decisions at the level of the federation;
  • Another step is to map out which stakeholders need to be informed about the process, including partners, external stakeholders etc.

Selection of countries and partners, and community surveys:

  • When selecting countries or programmes, ensure as much as possible that field offices, country programmes and partners have an interest in the process in order to make it a valuable learning exercise. Partners especially might be interested in applying the self-assessment to themselves at later stages and/or become a member of the CHS Alliance;
  • You can revise the questions to fit the context of your work with partners and communities, as long as they relate to the Nine Commitments of the CHS. Similarly, if you already have CHS-related questions in your regular monitoring processes, including when hosting focus group discussions, you can use the data you have already gathered;
  • The earlier you plan community consultations, the easier it is to include them meaningfully in country programmes’ monitoring activites;
  • Expect the process to last between 28 and 40 work days; some organisations have decided to include a larger number of country programmes.

Summary report and improvement plan:

  • The more the CHS is integrated in the organisation and its processes, including monitoring questions, the easier it will become to carry out a self-assessment process. The first self-assessment can be a starting point to assess which policies and procedures need to be revised in line with the CHS. It does not have to happen overnight, but it can be done over a two- to three-year timeframe;
  • Field offices that have participated in the self-assessment process may want to produce their own summary report and own improvement plan. As it is part of a wider institutional exercise, the field office would have the head office’s support in the implementation of the improvement plan. Lastly, the head office would be able to identify recurring issues across countries.
  • While a comprehensive self-assessment report is needed, do consider highlighting key priorities for management when you write the summary report, so that they can be acknowledged, discussed, and necessary actions taken as appropriate. Do not expect the leadership of large organisations to go through all the details of the report.
  • It is important to steer ownership of the result in order to set the ground for the improvement plan. This can be best achieved by giving steering committee members the opportunity to reflect on the scoring and the elaboration of activities aiming at implementing the improvement plan, the latter possibly in coordination with their respective teams.

We would like to thank Mags Bird (Mission East), Uwe Corus (Care International), Robert Sweatman (British Red Cross) and Carol Morgan (Concern Worldwide) for their contribution to the webinar and this collection of recommendations.