The VSL Associates Project Planning Tool (financed by Plan International and engineered by Chuck Waterfield) is designed to enable project planners to design a savings group project based on populations statistics for the area in which an organisation wishes to implement a savings group programme.
On the setup sheet, it starts by asking for population data from the most recent census, broken down by the various zones in which the project will operate. It then factors in family size and asks the analyst to enter the percentage of families that the project expects to reach and over what period of time. It then makes an assessment of likely Field Officer and Village Agent productivity, and this enables the planner to determine how many Field Officers and Village Agents will be needed, by zone, working for what period of time. This is then automatically incorporated into a budget template, in which the number of field staff is automatically derived from the data already entered, allowing a total cost and a cost per member to be calculated, both during the life of the project and for as much as four years thereafter.
Once this is completed, the planner can then adjust the scope and scale of the project to match the resources that are likely to be available.
The tool is particularly useful for projects of moderate to large scale that operate for at least three years.