RCI | Success Stories

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a collection of success stories spanning the different aspects of the RCI project


  • RCI Replication of Activities

    RCI, throughout its existence, has been innovative and often introduced different economic development activities that add value to existing country programs, are picked up as a new activity or are replicated in other countries. Some of these examples are presented here.


    Project Management (PM) Initiative Serbia to the Region For workforce development RCI has supported local individuals to get PM training and certification and, as a result, double the amount of people receiving assistance. After the success of the pilot, RCI developed a report Regional Project Management Capacity Assessment (rciproject.com/rcibhreports.html) which highlighted needs and interest from several countries. RCI is now initiating a replication of the PM activities in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and three more (Moldova, Macedonia and Kosovo) are interested to be included in 2011.

    eBiz Projects - Macedonia to Bosnia and Herzegovina In 2007, USAID Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in the RCI Regional IT Conference, where one of the best practices shown was the Macedonia eBiz Project with activities in tex-tiles, shoe manufacturing and tourism. After this visit and further activity development in partnership with the Norwegian Gov-ernment, the eBiz program was replicated in Bosnia and Her-zegovina as the Excellence in Innovation Project (ei-bih.ba).

    Quality Mark (QM) tourism standards Bulgaria to Albania and Macedonia In 2007, RCI looked into the successful USAID program in Bul-garia on standards in tourism - the Quality Mark (QM), focused on small hotels and B&Bs. The QM added value to the old star system by standardizing a hotels service, management, and environmental policies. RCI developed guidebooks and held awareness events throughout the region. In 2010, the USAID Albania Rritje Project and Exploring Macedonia each took on the QM initiative. Other countries have expressed interest. In Macedonia, the EBRD TAM/BAS project contributed funds to start the program there.

    ITMark / CMMI, IT companies training and certification standards Bulgaria to the Region RCI has been a leader in the region in the development of the IT sector from the beginning of the project. In 2007, building on our successful program of IT training and certification of com-panies in ITMark and CMMI, the regional German assistance GTZ ORF Programme also supported these efforts. By cost sharing with GTZ, RCI was able to increase the number of companies and countries assisted. The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.!

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    RCI Western Balkans Supplement

    RCI collaborated with National Geographic Traveler and USAID missions in the Western Balkans to produce this regional tourism promotion tool.


    Overview In partnership with National Geographic Traveler (NGT) and through cost-sharing with regional USAID missions and pro-jects, the RCI Project finalized in May 2010 the Western Bal-kans supplement Land of Discovery: 46 Outstanding Ways to Experience Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Mace-donia, Montenegro and Serbia. www.rciproject.com/tourismng.html The supplement was conceptualized and developed through roundtable discussions and familiarization trips throughout the region. The sites were chosen according to the following key themes:

    Historical / World Heritage Sites and ruins; Unique villages / towns; Churches, cathedrals, monasteries and mosques; Art and museums; Festivals and celebrations; Local music / musical instruments; Outdoor markets / specialty stores / boutiques; Distinctive foods or dishes, cafes and restaurants; Unique crafts, wood, glass, fabric, etc.; Beaches, lakes, parks and gardens; Resorts and spas, B&Bs, agri-tourism; Outdoor activities (hiking, biking, skiing); Wildlife, birds, fish, animals, etc.

    Coverage The NGT Western Balkans supplement was disseminated with the May / June 2010 issue of the National Geographic Maga-zine and Traveler to about 240,000 subscribers from the UK, Netherlands and Germany. What next? Building on the success of the Western Balkans supplement, RCI is looking into continuing the cooperation with National Ge-ographic in several areas, such as possible supplement fo-cused on the Caucasus region and development of NG Geotourism web sites for the RCI region. The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.

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    Regional Competitiveness Initiative Website


    In May 2010, RCI launched its website, www.rciproject.com. The goal of the website is to allow E&E missions, projects, and stakeholders to access and share information on regional competitiveness.

    The website pools together a broad range of RCI resources. In addi-tion to background information on RCI, the website contains: Sector-specific information on RCI activities in IT, tourism, agri-

    business and workforce development; Scopes of work for RCI and other USAID competitiveness pro-

    jects in Europe and Eurasia; All research papers produced under RCI, as well as agendas and

    presentations from RCI events since 2005; Archived RCI newsletters, as well as RCI news items on the front

    page; Front-page links to World Economic Forum competitiveness rank-

    ings for RCI countries; Competitiveness studies from various think tanks and research

    institutes; A thematic calendar of events to promote information-sharing and

    coordination. Designed to serve the region, the RCI website is a work in progress that will evolve according to the needs of regional stakeholders. The interest of those stakeholders since the websites inception has been very strong. In its few short months of operation, the RCI website has been visited 2023 times by 1146 different people. 63.82% of those visitors viewed more than one page. Other data collected about the RCI website include: Most Viewed Pages 6,223 page-views, 4,643 unique views; The most viewed page is the home page (43%), followed by the

    Sarajevo event main page (5%), USAID scopes of work (5%), and Sarajevo Reports (2%).

    Geographic Origin E&E region (over 35%); The U.S. (44%).

    Traffic Source 52% have come from direct traffic (e.g., clicking the link in email

    announcements, or typing the address directly); 26% from sites linking to the RCI website; 21% from search engines. Keywords include rci project, region-

    al competitiveness, and rci usaid. The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.

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    "#$!"%&%'()*!'+,!-+'./&0&!One of RCIs tasks as a regional project is to research and analyze the most current economic issues, then present opinions and possible solutions to the regional USAID Missions, Projects and other local stakeholders. !

    Below is a summary list of reports developed in recent years under the Regional Competitiveness Initiative: At the 2008 RCI Annual Event in Budva, Montenegro, RCI

    presented the report Competitiveness in the Europe and Eurasia Region: Past, Present and Future, by Neal Na-thanson from USAID Washington, who then updated the re-port into Europe and Eurasia Region: An Overview of USAID Supported Competitiveness Projects.

    At the 2009 RCI Annual Event in Kyiv, Ukraine, with the global economic and financial crisis affecting the region, RCI focused on this most urgent topic with Causes of the Crisis, Its Transmission to Eastern Europe, and Impacts on Economic and Social Conditions, presented by Dr. Paul Marer from the Central European University in Budapest.

    At that same event, RCI presented the reports Technology and Innovation Competitiveness in Eastern and Southeast-ern Europe by Goran Radman, former South East Europe Director for Microsoft and Workforce Competitiveness in the Next Decade by Dr. Eric Butler.

    At the 2010 RCI Annual Event in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Her-zegovina, Dr. Paul Marer presented an update on the global crisis with The Global Economic Crises: Impact on Eastern Europe and The Greece-Euro Crises and their impacts in Eastern Europe.

    Other interesting presentations were made on efforts to overcome the crisis by Dr. Krassen Stanchev from the Insti-tute for Market Economics, Coming Out of the Crisis: Cau-casus, Moldova and Ukraine, and by Dr. Dragana Radevic from CEED Consulting Montenegro, Coming out of the Global Economic Crisis: Current Status, Effects, and Re-sponses - Sub-regional focus on the Western Balkans.

    RCI also develops sector-specific reports. In 2009 for in-stance, at a workshop on workforce development activities in Macedonia, RCI presented USAID Macedonia Workforce Development Assessment: Taking Steps toward a 21st Century Workforce by Dr. Eric Butler.

    All of these reports and many more can be found on the RCI website - www.rciproject.com. Feel free to use them in your work and dissemi-nate to your partners and clients. The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.

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    RCI Events !"#$%#$%&'(%)'*)"&")%#($+,&-'+.)*(,/)"-&-#$0)&1223&

    RCI is contributing to the regional dialogue on competitiveness by holding regular events ranging from roundtable for 10-15 practitioners on a specific topic (agribusiness, tourism, etc.) to annual events with over 100 participants.

    Overview One of the main strategic goals of RCI is to share knowledge and information across borders and regions. RCI implements this through electronic media such as the RCI web site, quarter-ly Newsletters, bi-weekly tourism & agribusiness information, and the bi-monthly InfoShare. To add more value, RCIs most successful tools are the events that bring stakeholders from all countries and regions together to share their experiences and learn from each other. Evaluation General assessment of the usefulness of RCI events is over-whelmingly positive.

    Relevance: 96-100% indicated that they found RCI events relevant to their work

    Meeting expectations: 92-100% of attendees said that events have met their expectation

    Continued interest: 93-100% of respondents are likely to attend RCI events in the future

    The different aspects of RCI meetings receive very positive rat-ings (excellent or good at a rate of 86-96%).

    Statistics From 2005 to 2010, RCI has organized about 50 events attended by a total of over 3500 participants, which have included representatives of the private sector (over 40%), local governments, and USAID projects and missions.

    The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners. &

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    RCI: Excellence in IT !"#$"%#&'

    One of RCIs most strategic sectors is information technol-ogy (IT). RCI is a leader in de-veloping IT in each country and enhancing competitiveness in the Western Balkans and the Caucasus. One of the main activities RCI supports is the excellence of IT companies through training and certifica-tion. The result is that the IT companies improve their or-ganization, processes and products, which leads to higher productivity and expanded business opportunities. !

    Events and Statistics RCI, in cooperation with its partner the European Software In-stitute (ESI) Center for Eastern Europe, has three kinds of events related to excellence and certification: awareness, train-ing, and appraisals. The events took place in 13 countries in Southeast and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

    Summary statistics for the period June 2005 October 2010: Excellence events: 67 Companies involved in the excellence events: 413 Companies certified: 37 Excellence trainees and participants: 1,777 Qualified individuals: 827 Associations involved in the excellence activity: 11

    Feedback from participant companies: 82% of companies increased their competitiveness by more

    than 20%; 85% of firms reported increased client satisfaction and 58%

    reported decreased time to market; 37% of companies reported sales increase of 20%-50% due

    to the CMMI / ITMark implementation program.

    Testimonials from Beneficiaries The most visible result we have seen is having real-time re-porting on what is really happening within our company. Our managers have online access to all of their projects and can instantly see which tasks are on time, which are lagging behind schedule so they can push the team or add more resources to the team to get the task done on time. IT Company from Macedonia

    When implementing ITMark and as recommended by CMMI we introduced a new practice in our work with banks: When we receive requirements we create a prototype of our vision of the product and then discuss it again with the client. In 80% of the cases our vision appeared to differ a lot from the clients vision. Previously this created a lot of rework. Now we can assure a correct vision of the requirements and final product that are un-derstood correctly by us and the clients. IT Company from Moldova !

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    In May 2010, RCI, in collabora-tion with the European Soft-ware Institute (ESI) Center for Eastern Europe, launched the website www.it2business.org, a platform for cross sector links between ICT solution develop-ers and companies from other economic sectors. The goal of this website is the worldwide promotion in different econom-ic sectors of successful IT products and solutions devel-oped by regional (Eastern Eu-rope and Caucasus) companies. !

    The website features: 48 IT companies presenting 111 of their own products and

    solutions for different economic sectors, including tourism and travel, agribusiness, furniture, food, textiles, medicine / pharmaceutical, banking / finance, building, manufacturing and automotive;

    Solutions presented by companies from 15 countries Al-bania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bul-garia, Georgia, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine;

    A paper version of the web catalogue with a circulation 1400 copies. Of those, over 1300 copies are disseminated to companies and industrial associations in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus;

    Three companies, which shared feedback and acknowl-edgment that, through the IT2Business catalogue, they started successful business relations with companies from other countries or sectors.

    Most Viewed Pages 6540 visits; The most viewed page is the catalogue and search page

    (40%), followed by the home page (8%), welcome note (15%), and resources repository (10%).

    Traffic Source 62% have come from direct traffic (e.g., clicking the link in

    email announcements, or typing the address directly); 20% redirected links from partners sites - RCI, ICT associa-

    tions and companies in Moldova, Armenia, Bosnia and Her-zegovina, Romania, the ESI Center Bulgaria site, www.quality2it.org0 etc.;

    17% from search engines. The average time spent in the site is 3.25 minutes with a

    peak time of 24 minutes. !

    The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners. !

  • RCI Improves IT Competitiveness Leveraging Resources to Improve IT Competitiveness in the E&E Region

    One of the major objectives of RCI is to ensure the sustaina-bility of ICT activities and to obtain commitment from other stakeholders and donors in the region to the activities per-formed.

    RCI and its regional IT partner ESI Center Bulgaria/Eastern Eu-rope have developed and implemented a specific model to support IT training and certification activities, while leveraging co-funding from other donors and partners.

    RCIs model is part of a systematic approach used to support regional competitiveness. It is based on the IT Competitiveness Pyramid, which is used to assist regional clusters of firms to improve their processes and obtain the internationally recog-nized certifications, CMMI and IT Mark. All activities are imple-mented in partnership with regional stakeholders from donor organizations, business associations, firms and individuals. These stakeholders provide a significant part of the financing for and offer further support after the initial pilot projects.

    The participation of other stakeholders not only leverages the RCI funds spent on the program but also ensures strong com-mitment and long-term sustainability for the initiatives.

    The first programs based on the IT Competitiveness Pyramid were launched in 2005-2007. They have impacted the whole region and proved their sustainability:

    After the completion of the USAID program in Bulgaria, oth-er programs such as EBRD Business Advisory Services Program and the Bulgarian Competitiveness Program, funded by EU, continued their support for the CMMI /IT Mark initiative. The ESI Center Bulgaria has become a re-gional excellence center in Eastern Europe and the Cauca-sus.

    The RCI IT program in Macedonia was recognized as a de-velopment model for the region. In 2008 the German GTZ decided to fund a large-scale regional program based on the original RCI model, which supported more than 50 firms from six countries.

    RCI activities in Moldova were implemented in partnership with local firms and the CEED project funded by USAID. This not only contributed to the overall competitiveness of the Moldovan IT sector but also resulted in the creation of the excellence center for IT QLab that will develop local ca-pacity for IT training and certification in Moldova.

    The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.

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    SIGMA-SB dooel Skoje was founded in 1995. The firm has been successful in the development and the deployment of all-in-one systems -- planning, design, and implementation of complete cutting-edge IT solutions to improve the business processes of its clients. The technical excellence of the firm re-sulted in the rapid growth of its business, but on an organiza-tional level the company faced serious challenges.

    A possible solution was to deploy a model which would provide improvement in the process of service delivery. The choice was made in 2007 to get the firm IT Mark certified, with the support of USAIDs Regional Competitiveness Initiative.

    We knew that for small-l and medium-sized enterprises adopt-ing world-class models such as CMMI was a lengthy and chal-lenging process, which required a lot of time and effort, and that deterred us from initiating a CMMI-based process improvement program, said Slavcho Boujarski, general manager of the firm. So when ESI Center Bulgaria in the framework of the USAID-funded RCI program presented to us the IT Mark methodology, which is based on the concept of subdividing the CMMI path into a series of smaller objectives, we recognized its affordabil-ity we could achieve the milestones with moderate efforts and in a shorter period of time.

    Just after its first IT Mark certification, Sigma SB signed two new contracts in which the firm was able use its newly acquired skill to plan and guarantee product delivery to the client.

    Major benefits reported by the company management included: increased customer satisfaction with the quality of work (less bugs and better fulfillment of the requirements); shortened re-sponse time; the ability to provide new higher-level services; and the development of new services.

    Building on this success, the company continued its process improvement program after the project with RCI was complet-ed. In 2010 the company achieved a higher level of certification, IT Mark Premium, and planned to become certified for CMMI maturity Level 2 in 2011.

    The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners.!

    A small business in Macedonia talks about how training received with the assistance of USAIDs Regional Competitiveness Initiative helped improve the firms management, response time, and customer satisfaction.

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    "#$!%&'()*+!,$-!./01)*/!!"#$"%#&' In May 2010, RCI, in collaboration with the European Software

    Institute (ESI) Center for Eastern Europe, launched the website www.quality2it.org - a platform for regional capacity in IT Train-ing and Certification. The main objective of this website is to support the establishment of an Excellence Network for Eastern Europe and promote cooperation and partnership between IT training and certification service providers. The website features: A catalogue of Excellence Centers and Service providers of

    IT training and certification services; The quality services that can be found within the network

    are in areas of: Strategic Management, Operational Man-agement, Project Management, Software Development PI, ICT Services PI, Information Security, Vendor Specific and University programs;

    31 quality service organizations as members of the net-work, which are registering more than 60 training and/or certification services;

    Organizations from 15 countries: Albania, Armenia, Azer-baijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine;

    A news section where registered organizations can share information about their events/ trainings, success stories, in-troduction of new services, project implementation, etc.

    The site has a user-friendly interface both for the compnies that presents their products and services and for potential clients interested in purchasing them. The RCI project is implemented by SEGURA/IP3 Partners. !


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