Assess and Plan

Assess your practices
The Universal Standards can be overwhelming because they include every aspect of SPM. Most organizations want to focus on strengthening only a few practices at a time. An assessment of the institution’s current SPM practices helps reveal areas of weaker practice that the institution can address. It also allows an institution to create an action plan for improving practice and track the progress of their SPM practices over time.

The CERISE Social Performance Indicators 4 (SPI4) is a social audit tool for microfinance providers. An excel questionnaire in its current version, the SPI4 helps financial service providers evaluate their level of implementation of the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management, including the Smart Campaign Client Protection Principles. SPI4 also offers users with a specific mission focus—green, poverty, rural, gender—to assess their practices, thanks to optional indicators that reflect the latest industry thinking in these areas.

See SPI4 Report Example 2 below. Scores for each of the 6 Dimensions (at left) and the individual Standards within them (at right):

 Assess and plan page spi4 graphic

On the SPI4 website, you will find the SPI4 tool, guidance on how to perform the assessment, and answers to frequently asked questions. In addition, Chapter 1 of the Universal Standards Implementation Guide provide guidance on how to assess your institution’s SPM practices.

Another option for assessing your practices is to use an in-depth social rating or Microfinance Institutional Rating. While the SPI4 social audit tool can be administered internally (using your own staff), or externally (using an independent auditor), a rating is externally administered, following a rigorous methodology. The following microfinance rating agencies offer ratings that are fully aligned with the Universal Standards: M-CRIL, Microfinanza Rating and MicroRate. Find basic information on ratings here. Find in-depth information on social ratings here; ici; aqui

Plan for improving practices
Use the results of your assessment to prioritize areas for implementation. Create an SPM action plan that is realistic for your organization. Use resources such as the CERISE example action plan, the Mentorship Guide pages 16-21, and the Implementation Guide, pages 22-24.

Once you have a list of possible activities, it is useful to analyze each of them in terms of their value for clients and the institution, as well as how easy/difficult it will be for your institution to implement them. The figure below demonstrates one method for this analysis.

Image from impl guide p.24

As part of your SPM plan, create a timeline for each step of the implementation process, and detail which staff are in charge of specific deliverables. Include a budget for SPM activities within your institution’s operational budget to ensure that other institutional priorities will not delay execution of the plan.

To make sure that the action plan will be adopted and implemented, it is ideal to include it during the process of defining or revising the business plan of the institution. Over time, it will become more natural for the institution to systematically integrate the client focus into any exercise of business plans.