Planning for Legacy

How do I go about planning for legacy?

The first few steps in planning for legacy are the things you will need to do to develop your Knowledge and Adoption plan, so the legacy part is usually just an additional component.

You will have identified the intended outputs of your project or program, your primary audiences, and the ‘delivery’ methods you are going to use. Having done this for the K&A plan, you now need to think about what is going to happen at the end of the work. Will everything just stop, or can you leave behind forms of legacy that will ensure people continue to make use of what your work has achieved?

If you have already identified the audiences and delivery methods, it should not be hard to see what you can do during the course of the research to help make sure that new awareness, skills, knowledge or tools continue to be used after the contracted work is completed - some examples of how others have done this are given below.

Once you have thought about the different forms legacy can take and which ones are likely to be most effective for your research, it is important to include the legacy activities as part of your study and to allocate resources to it within your project or program budget. The term resources is used here in its broadest sense and may include staff time to establish and maintain relationships with key people throughout the research project and afterwards.

As a general rule, we recommend allocating 5% of the overall project or program budget to legacy related activities (for example a ‘harvest year’ to complete communication outputs). This can be scaled over the life of the program so that it increases the closer the research is to completion, for example, 2% year 1, 3% year 3, 5% year 5 etc).

There are many different activities that can be used for ensuring legacy is covered, for example, a single research project may require just making sure the data are fully analysed and published or communicated to specific audiences in a form that they can readily make use of. For a large R&D project, funds may need to be allocated to building skills and capacity in key organisations or individuals during the course of the work or to fund a ‘harvest year’ after the completion of research to disseminate findings, consolidate relationships, ensure skills are passed to those remaining in the project region or beyond it, and develop products to support ongoing adoption.

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • What things need to be in place to ensure that ongoing support and dissemination of research findings will occur?
  • How much will they cost?
  • Which are likely to be the most effective and to provide value-for-money?
  • Which will I include as part of my K&A plan?

Who needs to help me plan for legacy?

It is a good idea to discuss the issue of legacy with the people who are going to be involved in the project or program including the research team, the funding organisation and representatives of the local community or other audiences that you might be working during the research. These discussions are often enlightening as a range of perspectives generally exist about what the goal(s) of the project or program are, and where its impact and, hence, legacy will be.

Sometimes it is useful to have a facilitator guide these discussions. This information then enables you to analyse the socio-economic factors that are likely to impact on whether or not your project will ‘succeed’ in meeting its goals in particular communities.

By involving the range of people who are the intended beneficiaries or audiences for your project, you are also identifying others who can fill in some of the Knowledge and Adoption (including legacy) gaps that you may not be able to cover with your resources either during the work or once the project or program has been completed. This is useful, as it highlights during the planning stage organisations and people who may be able to assist in implementing your K&A plan - including your legacy component. It also helps to ensure at the beginning rather than the end of the project or program that its impact will continue despite the research component being completed.

What does a legacy plan look like?

Planning for legacy is not an arduous task, rather, it is just one component of your overall Knowledge and Adoption Plan. It may be just one page or one paragraph within the context of the overall K&A Plan. The case studies demonstrate how the issue of legacy has been handled at both project and programme levels.

If you need help, Contact a Knowledge & Adoption Officer