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Fred Amankwah Sarfo Writes: How We Intend To Modernize The NPP   
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A political party is a unique organization. Its primary goals are representing citizens in elections and advocating for policy positions — in government or in opposition— that it believes can further citizen interests.

Unlike many other types of organizations, a party is typically staffed by a mix of party members and full-time professional staff.

Every political party must have an internal organization system, including procedures for making decisions, managing resources, tracking members and activists, and communicating internally.

Digital technologies have revolutionized the way businesses, governments and organizations across the globe manage their internal processes, and can be equally useful for a political party.

The following are some of the core elements of political party management and some potentially digital tools to be proposed for consideration.

(1) Internal communications are a critical component of party management.

There are 275 constituency offices, 10 regional offices and many polling stations.

Information should constantly flow between these and party headquarters.

Branch offices might need to share financial data, information on local policy priorities based on day-to-day interactions with members and citizens, information on member activities, and local news developments.

Similarly, a party’s national headquarters might need to keep its branch offices informed of newly developed policy positions, messaging priorities, major party events, and changes or updates to party rules or priorities.

The worksheet on internal communications channels describes some tools a party can use to streamline its communications processes.

( 2) Financial management and compliance:

Financial management is critical to any large organization.

A party must track its income and expenses to ensure that it does not spend more money than it takes in.

It must also constantly monitor its expenses to make sure it does not waste money or, worse, lose resources to fraud or theft.

Office applications — truly simple digital tools — can immediately improve an organization’s ability to manage its finances. Spreadsheet applications like Excel (or Google Sheets) and basic accounting applications like Quickbooks can help the party plan and manage expenses and income consistently and effectively.

In Ghana, political parties must adhere to strict requirements for tracking and reporting on income and expenditures in order to enforce party and campaign finance laws.

In some developed democracies with extensive technology infrastructures, there are off-the-shelf applications available to help manage compliance.

However, in most cases, a party would have to develop custom software, or adapt existing software, to meet its needs.

( 3) Decision making

Parties’ decision-making mechanisms can vary.

For example, a party might select its candidates by primary, official policy platforms may be determined by a vote at a convention and other decisions might be made by an executive committee.

Particularly in the case of decisions that require as many party members’ input as possible, technology offers vast possibilities.

The case studies on Denmark’s Liberal Movement demonstrate how some political parties have used online voting to elicit increased participation from their members.

(4) Member management

:Members are critical to political party operations.

To manage members effectively, a party should develop a system for keeping track of interactions with members and constituents.

A simple spreadsheet that tracks key constituent data and notes recent interactions between constituents and the party suffices.

Increasingly, parties are turning to Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) applications designed specifically for political parties and campaigns.

CRM software helps a party keep track of its members and supporters, and party officials’ interactions with them.

CRM systems can be expensive, and typically require significant upkeep costs.

However, there are free, open source options available. An ICT Team recently developed an open-source CRM database.

Additionally, cloud-based CRM applications have unique benefits, including their ability to allow multiple users to track updates simultaneously, and capacity to automatically record all changes and updates, including those made by members.

Fred Amankwah-Sarfo
(NPP National Chairman, 2018)
- Doctoral Researcher
- Member, Association for Information Systems
- Business Executive in Residence, University of Ghana Business School
- President, Federation of Africa Doctoral Research
- Ag. President, Doctoral Research Association of Ghana.
Source: Fred Amankwah-Sarfo NPP National Chairman Aspirant, 2018

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