Section 1.1


Assessment of the Employer Organization


Assessing the EO's overall strength and organizational capacity is the necessary first step in ascertaining the basic competences, strengths and weakness of the organization to carry out assessment or advocacy work. There are three steps to this assessment processes. Step one ascertain the current strength and makeup of the organizations' membership. Step two, audit the organization across specific components. Step three evaluate and make recommendations.

How to use this tool

  • This assessment should be done by an independent and impartial individual (referred to hereafter as "the assessor").
  • ACTEMP's background notes on the organization, which are updated annually, are a vitally important background resource for the individual carrying out this assessment.
  • This assessment will provide important intelligence on the current capacity of the organization and its ability to utilize assistance effectively.

An EO's capacity, in simple terms, is its potential to perform; more specifically, its 'ability to successfully apply its skills and resources to accomplish its goals and satisfy its stakeholders' expectations'.(1) The skills and resources include staffing, infrastructure, technology, financial resources, strategic leadership, process management, networks, and linkages with other business groups.

There are three ways of looking at organizational capacity:

  1. Group the elements that constitute organizational capacity under the categories of resources, management, and members. Resources constitute the staff, the infrastructure, technology, and financial ability. Management includes strategic leadership, programme and process management, networks and linkages. Members, or rather the strength of their engagement with the EO, is the base that underwrites both management and members. All three elements make up the overall organizational capacity.
  2. A secondary way of looking at organizational capacity is to distinguish between the capacities that an EO needs to carry out its day to day activities and the capacities needed for an EO to learn and change in response to changing circumstances. These have been referred to as adaptive capacities.
  3. Organizational capacities have also been distinguished between individuals, groups, and team capacities. Individuals possess capacities in the form of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These are usually made available to the EO but are always lost when such individuals leave the EO. When knowledge, skills, and attitudes are shared with others, such capacities become embedded in processes, and when these are widely shared in the entire EO, they then become incorporated in the EO's culture.

Overall, the capacity of an EO cannot be taken in isolation, as it is deeply embedded in the social, economic, and political environment in which it operates (Assessment Tool 7 EESE Landscape is a separate tool to assist EOs carry out this exercise).

Before the commencement of the audit exercise the assessor will need to define the objectives. This should be done collaboratively with specific personnel in the EO. The following points can assist:

  • Is this a complete assessment of the EO across all its functions, or is it limited to a specific area(s)?
  • Identify the appropriate individuals in the EO who can accurately answer these questions.
  • Take on board any recent or likely future developments.
  • Identify external individuals who can provide additional information and analysis on the EO.

These will help you determine the scope of the intervention, the depth of the data to be collected, the focus, and the cost (DFID 2006).(2)

The sets of questions below are designed to assist the assessor get an accurate picture of the organization – some may be easy to answer, while others may be not possible. The assessor should try and get as complete a picture as possible, cognizant of these limitations.

(1) A. Ker: Evaluating Capacity Development: Experiences from Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, South Africa and South Korea, 2003, (accessed 6 February 2008).

(2) Department For International Development: Developing Capacity?, 2006 Developing_Capacity_DFID_Report.pdf