SISTER - System of Information on Strategies, Tasks and Evaluation of Results
SISTER is one of the Organization’s IT-based management tools which follows and supports the Results-Based Management (RBM) approach as applied in UNESCO. RBM is a cornerstone of UNESCO and UN reform. It constitutes a central pillar of the Organization’s programming, operations and monitoring and is critical for the accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of programme and management as requested by UNESCO’s governing bodies.
SISTER was designed in 1998 to support the transition to the Results-Based Management approach and now accompanies its implementation by being continuously adapted to reflect emerging and evolving needs, such as the principles of authority and accountability, those flowing from the decentralization policy and exigencies of UN reform. It also seeks to integrate RBM good practices.
Built on the principles of transparency, accountability and knowledge-sharing, SISTER encompasses the programming, management, monitoring and reporting of the biennial Programme and Budget (C/5) and associated operational work plans for Regular Programme and extrabudgetary projects alike. SISTER ensures the alignment and harmonisation of regular programme activities and extrabudgetary projects, and that the latter reinforce the Regular Programme of UNESCO and thus contribute to its results attainment.
A Working Tool: Interactivity and Cooperation.
The core of the system lies in the definition of expected results - and the strategy to attain them - by the person responsible for each element at the various programming levels. Each level of the hierarchy is given the means to fully exercise its responsibilities and is fully accountable for the programming and implementation of the interventions undertaken. This process is meant to be interactive, in the sense that the proposals from each level answer to the direction of the higher level and provide for a process of a programming and budgetary negotiation.
These agreements are the essence of a co-operative strategy, as they determine how and under which conditions the respective results will be reached and combined in achieving the higher-level results. This Results chain allows a seamless linkage from the C/4 to the C/5 to the work plans as well as from UNESCO’s results to the UN (via among others the UNDAF or One UN Programme Results Matrix).
To underpin this strategy and to ensure the successful implementation of SISTER, all UNESCO personnel (including interns and temporary staff), as well as the representatives of Member States (Permanent Delegations and National Commissions), are entitled to follow an individual or group training. For more information on SISTER training please contact sister(at)unesco.org.
A Consultation Tool: Transparency and Partnership.
In addition to serving as a working tool for UNESCO personnel, SISTER also serves as a consultation tool facilitating exchange of information, and reinforcing collaboration between Member States, Donors and UNESCO.
As stipulated by the General Conference, Member States have access up to the Main line of Action (MLA) levels of the biennial Programme and Budget (C/5). The information available to Member States is constantly updated via SISTER thus providing a continuously updated biennial Programme and Budget (C/5) document. In addition, it is also complemented with supplementary information such as performance indicators for each expected result. Moreover, SISTER’s extensive Search/Reports function also allows extracting substantive and financial information by topics, by results, by geographical area including benefitting countries and other criteria, such as expected results and estimated budget for the benefit of a specific country, sub-region or region.
SISTER also provides potential donors and the general public with information on UNESCO’s Complementary Additional Programme (CAP). The CAP is UNESCO’s key programming and resource mobilisation tool. It is part of an effort to increase resource mobilization by making it easier for potential donors and partners to match UNESCO’s priorities to their own, both with respect to geographic and substantive focus. Through SISTER, it is possible to conduct an on-line search of the CAP data base by selecting the relevant Programme Areas and/or Thematic Areas that are of particular interest to donors. For more information on the CAP please consult: CAP database (the CAP Tree).
The SISTER Architecture: Multi-level Coherence.
In line with the results-based management approach, the Programme and Budget is built according to a coherent strategy of well-articulated, nested results. This arborescence is directly visible via the “SISTER Tree,” which allows users to visualize UNESCO’s Programme and Budget by sequentially descending from the Major Programme level, through the Biennial Sectoral Priorities, Main line of Actions, and down to the work plans level.
An innovative IT-system for an Integrated Working Environment.
UNESCO’s integrated management system underpins the key pillars of the RBM approach: results, financial and human resource management. It is comprised of three interconnected IT-based applications: SISTER, FABS and STEPS.
SISTER encompasses the Programme and Budget (C/5) and the work plans. FABS (Finance and Budget System) is used to record financial transactions, maintain accounts and provide data for budgetary and financial reporting. STEPS (System to Enhance Personnel Services) covers human resources management and payroll information. The link between the results defined in SISTER and the performance appraisal of individuals in the Human resources application ensures that the latter are incited to focus and contribute to the achievements of the Organization.
Furthermore, SISTER was conceived to function both via the UNESCO intranet and the Internet, which means that all personnel of the Organization have access to SISTER whether in or away from Headquarters. This allows for direct and continuous collaboration between Headquarters and Field Offices, and with colleagues who are away on mission. In this way, SISTER serves as a working tool which contributes to the creation of an integrated working environment.
In brief, SISTER has been developed to adapt to the reforms of the UN and of the Organization, such as through decentralization and delegation of authority. It provides the basis for informed decision-making at UNESCO by presenting a comprehensive view of UNESCO’s programmatic and financial information and work plans, up-dated on an ongoing basis with relevant substantive, budgetary and financial information. SISTER is the Organization’s unique entry point for sharing progress attained against the expected results defined in the relevant C/5 document and work plans, and contributes to making UNESCO a more interactive, transparent, integrated working environment.
SISTER for the 35 C/5 (2010-2011) and for the 36 C/5 (2012-2013) is available at: http://sister.unesco.org.
For more information on SISTER or SISTER Training please contact sister(at)unesco.org.