International Development Sector: Back Office Administration 101 for Consultants

The international development sector offers many opportunities in a wide variety of occupations and career areas based on skills and extensive knowledge of key issues and in-depth experience. The aim of international aid and development is to work to meet the needs of people in the developing world, so there is a bias towards those with specific skills in areas such as engineering, agriculture, business, health, and other disciplines. Those whose skills are more generalist (such as administrator experts and policy research and development consultants) may need to consider which areas of work may best suit them and knowledge of the sector and its needs is vital for gaining entry.

Most of the international development work is short term assignments. As companies strive to balance cost containment with developing both international markets and new global leader candidates, the use of short-term assignments has clearly become even more popular to accomplish these goals.

Short-term assignments typically range from three-to-twelve months in length and are often taken on an unaccompanied status with home leave trips built in to the benefits. This reduces the disruption involved in uprooting the entire family including children in school, spouses or partners, elder dependent; even family pets.

International development consulting work varies according to the project, the seniority of the role, the nature of the employer, whether it is overseas or based in the donor agency's home country. Disaster relief and humanitarian work often calls for specific skills in areas such as health, engineering and logistics and is usually short term. Typical tasks may include:

project research and development,
project management,
liaison with fund holders and experience working with multi-stakeholder networks from within the international humanitarian sector,
bidding for funds,
liaising with governments and partner organizations,
advocacy and public relations,
conducting statistical surveys,
institutional capacity building,
fundraising and planning,
demonstrated capacity for research and development,
communications, policy advisory and public affairs work, with a record of publications, development or comparable sectors.

International development work is mostly overseas in a developing country away from the home country of the donor agency.

Employers can be development NGOs, emergency relief or humanitarian aid organizations, governments, or multilateral or international organizations. Some consultancy firms offer opportunities mostly, although not exclusively, to experienced staff. For information about the different organizations and an overview of the sector, see,, and  There is also a useful directory of NGOs, and jobs and training information at 

Back office administration is an under-represented field in international development sector projects, causing various dysfunctional organizational management issues for development projects. Most development projects are more sophisticated because they focus on changing people's lives, and people are more complicated than objects. The more people and the more places a project affects, the more technically, politically, and economically complicated the project becomes. Random planning or detailing of steps to get project activities under control and the lack of understanding of the omnipresent nature of uncertainty in every project model including events and tasks leading to a project's completion which can never simply be unfolded with unequivocal predictive accuracy are the common problems for projects without back office administration. Although all projects require some form of dedicated back office administration and the impact of back office administration widely recognized, the field of back office administration itself is still under-represented. This book attempts to explain the essence of the field of back office administration. International development sector practitioners need to understand why back office administration of any project is necessary to offer support and the achievement of projects objectives. Back office administration is project management and should considerably enhance better project delivery using current management practices.

 Published by the Center for Development & Business Research (CODBRA). The Center appreciates your gift of .95 towards purchasing the eBook, International Development Sector: Back Office Administration 101 for Consultants. Please send the Center a check or money order made payable to the Center for Development & Business Research and mail to: The Center for Development & Business Research, 3801 East Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, CO 80210. Your gift purchase provides a base of support that helps the Center to continue its research work on international development issues. The book can be downloaded at!enclosure=.59eb4196&ad=1

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