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Towards the One Corporate System (OCS)

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a partnership that unites 15 agricultural research centers carrying out a diverse portfolio of projects across 150 locations around the world. In order to create a common system for managing projects, human resources, finances, and other administrative and reporting functions, CGIAR centers are working towards adopting a new system – the One Corporate System (OCS).

Representatives from nine CGIAR centers and the Consortium Office gathered for three weeks at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru from October 31 to November 18 to test and refine prototypes of the new One Corporate System. The impetus for OCS reaches back several years, when Finance and Administration Directors from several centers, including CIP, began investigating the potential cost savings and added efficiencies that could be gained from adopting a joint system. That potential has become even more important with the advent of new, cross-Center CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and demands for greater accountability from funders.

More than 40 people from 9 CGIAR centers participated"Calculations indicate already that we are saving US$550,000 per Center by purchasing a system jointly instead of individually,” explains Carlos Alonso, CIP’s Executive Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, who has been leading his organization’s involvement with OCS and helping to coordinate the workshops. “And we’ll be achieving significant annual costs savings from a common hosted infrastructure to reduce equipment and maintenance costs,” he adds.

The project to develop OCS has been underway for more than a year. In preparation for this meeting, staff from multiple Centers and numerous professional disciplines spent several weeks identifying and aligning key business processes, terminology, and other details to prepare for the conversion to the common system.

The CGIAR has a global public mandate to help eradicate hunger and poverty, improve health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through advances in agricultural research. The pressures of climate change, population growth, and increasing hunger are adding greater urgency to the task. The CGIAR centers operate mostly in developing countries, and work with extensive networks of partners. Such a system requires robust and sophisticated ways to aggregate results, reduce redundancies, and improve efficiencies for a better investment of time and donor funding.

copy_of__DSC0021.JPGAlonso is not alone in touting the benefits of the new cross-center system. “It may sound like a tedious and technical exercise,” explains one participant, “but when you see a demonstration of what OCS can do, its functionality and how it can resolve tough problems, well, that really is worth getting excited about.”


View Report on OCS Prototype Approval Workshops – Oct 31st to Nov 18th CIP Lima, Peru

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