An essential prerequisite to successful programs is the ability to anticipate obstacles that may arise and how to address them. Planning should include the development of strategies for dealing with potential obstacles and challenges to program implementation.
One way to identify these challenges is by using semi-structured interviews or focus groups with key stakeholders in the early planning and design stages. This will also foster the development of strategies to overcome them.
The Resources Sidebar includes a link to sample interview questions that are designed to uncover obstacles and challenges, and the Examples Sidebar includes an illustration of how some of these obstacles have been identified and addressed in other programs.
Creating a program timeline that covers the program design, implementation, and evaluation stages can help you anticipate potential challenges. A timeline can help you visualize the entire program from start to finish, including its many components and what your staffing and other resource needs will be at each step.
Program design and implementation present challenges that you can’t always anticipate. Be prepared to address new issues as they arise, and be flexible enough to make adjustments.
The list below includes potential obstacles to implementing your program, as well as some of the challenges that you may face around its delivery or acceptance.
Potential obstacles and challenges:
- Psychosocial / cultural barriers to addressing issue;
- Cultural obstacles;
- Normative (mis)perceptions;
- Available time;
- Literacy levels;
- Motivation (incentives for participation);
- Physical constraints;
- Resource and funding limitations;
- Recruitment parameters;
- Data storage;
- Informed consent / assent;
- Accessing "hard to reach" groups;
- Reluctance to collaborate among parents or other stakeholders;
- National or local politics;
- Conflicts of interest;
- Poor experience of previous similar programs.