Financial planning (Rule 17)
Although Rule 17 addresses funding, it is perhaps even more about integral management and planning. It refers to the project design described in Rule 10 and is particularly adamant about the fact that the planning of funding should include all stages of the process. Conservation should be catered for from the beginning. Report preparation, and a communication and dissemination plan should be included, and all practicable measures for long-term curation and documentation of recovered artefacts should be taken in advance of any activity directed at underwater heritage.
Rule 17 starts with the clause ‘Except in cases of emergency to protect underwater cultural heritage...’, as it is hardly possible to address unforeseen situations and to integrally manage all potential ramifications. Nevertheless, it can be foreseen that unanticipated situations will occur. This needs to be taken into account when a policy for protection of underwater cultural heritage is developed. Like a project design, an emergency strategy should include provisions for conservation, documentation of the site and recovered artefacts, curation of recovered artefacts, report preparation, and dissemination. In such a strategy plan, ‘unforeseen situations’ are best dealt with through arrangements using the heritage infrastructure of a country or region. Long-term curation can be arranged through specific repositories or existing museums. The fieldwork in such an arrangement may well fall to another body. Universities may be involved in specialist research. Museums may have conservation departments, but other conservation facilities may equally exist. Despite this, conservation is a bottle-neck. So it may be wise to include cross-border institutional cooperation in the arrangements, building on expertise available elsewhere. Typically, different institutions and partners in such arrangements will have their own funding base (and funding problems), and it is not necessary to merge them for such an arrangement to work. This should not, however, prevent from planning in an integral way.
The entrepreneurial approach
In planning an individual underwater archaeological project, it is advisable to adopt an entrepreneurial approach. Before the question of financing is settled, it is recommendable to devise a project structure, based on a thorough analysis of the significance of preserving this heritage for the public and the costs to be incurred. In every individual instance, fund-raising calls for a dedicated effort to define objectives, means and strategies. It is therefore necessary to make an analysis of feasibility, the match between available means and objectives, and to think in terms of evaluation of the public benefits at the start of the Project Design stage. In adopting this approach, the research director of an archaeological project may have to reconsider predisposed attitudes and to rethink available options, without compromising professional ethics. Note that in project management and project funding, every project must have its beginning and its end. Open-ended solutions are not an option. Broad visions and strategies are certainly the best foundation on which to build a project, but the specific project objectives should not go beyond what can be overseen and evaluated. It is only by drawing up a ‘balance sheet’ of its costs and benefits that the equation underlying the financing of a project can satisfactorily be solved.
To assure successful project funding and implementation, one must adopt a professional approach. This means that one must optimize the project, face up to realities and potential risks and adopt the best possible funding plan. A professional, competent and responsible team to carry out the project and to assure its funding is the conditio sine qua non for success. This applies to all underwater archaeological projects, irrespective of their ultimate objectives, their settings or any special constraints. For larger projects in particular, the archaeological team should consider soliciting assistance from professionals with viable experience in project financing, and even consider entrusting the issue of acquiring and administering finances to specialists in this field.
Chronology of financial planning
The planning of project funding follows a series of steps during each stage of the project.
- Evaluation of needs, depending on objectives
- Estimation of costs
- Planning risks
- Elaboration of a funding plan
- Identification of funding sources
- Presenting a request / application for funding
Execution and finalization
- Initiation of activities subject to the actual availability of funding
- Financial monitoring and control
- Reporting on the use of the funding and objectives achieved
The professional approach
Adopting a professional approach is not the same as adopting the logic of the capitalist market, geared to profit-making alone. Heritage management counts its benefits in assets other than hard and short-term cash. It means planning and proceeding by stages through a continuous, consistent process of decision-making that covers the entire project, from the design stage to that of its implementation and final evaluation. Throughout all the successive stages of the project, specific tasks relating to financial aspects need to be carried out.
Information is the first of all assets and its decisive role cannot be emphasized too strongly. Being fully informed about development, rehabilitation and tourism projects in the area, developments in the offshore and maritime industry, locally or historically closely related archaeological projects, international projects and techniques, as well as specific forms of financial assistance will result in gaining a great deal of time and can yield rewards in terms of funding.
Professional project management proceeds through a series of clearly defined stages, from initiation and definition, to project design and planning, to execution and finalization. For issues relating to funding, project design and project finalization are obviously decisive stages. In each of them a number of funding issues must be addressed in a logical sequence.
Evaluation of financial needs
The objectives of a project govern the need for means. It needs to be determined how much funding is needed to achieve the goal of an intervention. The project's efficiency is ensured by choosing appropriate means, whereas gearing the means to the results determines effectiveness.
The objectives of underwater archaeological projects are informed by assessing:
- the historical, archaeological and public significance of the heritage;
- the potential threats the heritage is exposed to when left unattended under water;
- the technical opportunities and constraints for protection, exploration or research;
- general policies and visions;
the time frame;
- the ecological consequences of an intervention; and
- the benefits for the public, for research and specific stakeholder groups
By analyzing these aspects, the archaeologist in charge can decide on an adequate intervention and the methods to be employed: non-destructive underwater exploration including documentation of visible remains, in situ preservation, or archaeological excavations and conservation/restoration operations. The project objectives, cost estimate and the amount of financial resources required will depend on this choice.
Estimation of costs
A detailed and balanced budget estimate is indispensable for successful completion of the project. It needs to take account of both the costs of the archaeological intervention and the costs for conservation, documentation and curation of recovered artefacts, report preparation and dissemination in the short- and long-term.
Precise and reliable cost estimates of the individual phases should be combined in a global budget estimate. This is required to determine the total amount of funding needed, but also to correctly allocate funding to the individual project phases and their accurately calculated partial budgets. The funding plan needs to take account of possible price increases, particularly for long-term projects, as well as for changing environmental conditions.
The calculation of the cost-estimate and the amount of resources to be involved in the realisation of the project will depend on the method, the manner and extent of the research planned, and the duration of the envisaged project.
Planning for contingencies and risks is an essential part of project management. Breaking up policies, programmes and strategies into projects is in itself a form of risk management, making sure that results are obtained and that costs do not get out of hand. Although many other risks exist, financial risks are certainly an important category. If funding stops, it needs to be ensured that conservation, documentation and curation of recovered artefacts, report preparation and dissemination continues as planned or appropriate. It is for this that the Annex includes Rule 18 and Rule 19 that specifically address these issues. Planning of risks has an important role in the project design. This is reflected in cost estimation and has an effect on the funding plan. Proper risk planning, included in the budget estimate, may indicate one or more thresholds or breaking-off points at which the project could – if need be – be interrupted or discontinued and still be properly wound up. It may also include predefined monitoring and evaluation points, at which partial budgets can be reallocated. Generally, risk-included costs will lead to a higher global budget estimate, which of needs will contain entries for contingencies and interruption. In combination with a risk-discounted budget, however, such an approach may have the effect of installing greater confidence in funding bodies, leading to a higher probability of success.
Elaboration of a funding plan
A good funding plan is a coherent, well-documented and clearly presented dossier. It must take into account the objectives of the project, the foreseen activity and the projected cost estimates . It will then assemble the following basic requirements:
- Analysis of the project’s significance (evaluation of the project's intrinsic quality)
- Examination of the project’s suitability (illustration of the matching of means to objectives)
- Detailed budget plan (delivering credible risk-discounted cost and return expectations)
- Evaluation of the team (competence of those involved in project execution, who act as guarantors of its materialization and durability)
Always include a concise executive summary, explaining the funding plan in as few words as possible.
The funding plan must also meet certain formal requirements for content and form in case it is submitted as a formal funding application. It must then be suited to the sensibilities and demands of the funding partner. It is therefore wise to ascertain beforehand whether there is a deadline for submission and whether there are certain standard forms that have to be completed, however demanding this may be, in order to rework the same plan according to different formats.
Funding as a pre-condition
A project’s financial needs must be fully covered by the appropriate sources of funding before starting its implementation. The funds have to actually be available (i.e. in the bank account) before the start of each phase of the project. In case there is not one funding source covering the entire project, it is advisable to divide the project into separate archaeological project phases with independent funds.
A phased approach to decision-making on an underwater cultural heritage site is a good idea anyway. If the conditions allow for it, it is wise to address a site with a well-defined, overseeable project, the evaluation of which will allow for the next step in decision-making.
Professional project management supposes a professional project administration that allows for monitoring progress and expenses. Depending on the scale of the project, the financial administration can be managed by the accounting department of one of the promoting institutions, or by a specific accountant hired for the project. Funding bodies may put specific demands on periodical reporting. In any case, there should be a very direct and close link between accounting and project management in order to appropriately monitor and adjust.
Reporting to the financing source
At completion of the project, the final report has to be submitted to the financing partners, demonstrating and illustrating the objectives achieved with their funds. This report has to be honest and audited and ideally enclose all invoices. It should respect in detail the reporting requests of the funding agency or donor and be submitted respecting the agreed deadlines.