The below contains key words and definitions associated with the BOS

Baseline: Information gathered at the beginning of a project, or programme, from which variations found in the project or programme are measured. The baseline represents the status of the KPIs at the beginning of the BOS. A baseline acts as a reference point, against which progress, or achievement can be assessed.

Business case

Where implementation of a common service requires considerable upfront investment, the UNCT may request a detailed business case to be developed to research the actual costs, to document anticipated quality enhancements and to provide detailed costing. In some cases, interested agencies may be requested to cost share the time of a technical specialist, to develop the business case if in house capacity is not available.

Common business operations

Common business operations are the jointly executed back office support processes, and the harmonization, and simplification priorities that support UN programme implementation at the country level, undertaken by one agency on behalf of two or more agencies. This includes harmonization processes such as the harmonized approach to cash transfers (HACT) and LTAs.

Common premises

Common premises entail the co-location of one or more resident United Nations entities present in a country. One (or more than one) common premises can be established at national and subnational level, usually supported by a range of common services, and enabled by agency co-location. Common premises are an integral part of the UN efforts to harmonize common operations at the country level.

Common services

Common services are common business operations provided by one UN agency for one or more UN agencies (clients), inclusive of joint procurement activity and management of long-term agreements (LTAs).

Common service lines

1. Procurement services; 2. Information, Communication and Technology services; 3. Common Human Resources Services; 4. Finance Services; 5. Logistics Services; 6. Administration Services (including Common Facilities/Premises).


Impact includes changes in programme delivery through enhanced operational support, and, therefore, ultimately in people’s lives. Impact can include changes in knowledge, skills, behaviors, health, or conditions for children, adults, families, or communities. Impact are positive and negative long-term effects on identifiable groups produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended.


The financial, human, material, technological, and information resources, used for development interventions.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A KPI provides a unit of measurement that specifies what is to be measured along a scale but does not indicate the direction or change. KPIs are qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of a programme or investment.

Multi-country office

Regionally located office infrastructure, sometimes located in common premises that service more than one country and may deliver common services through joint operations centers. Examples include the Pacific and the Caribbean region multi country offices. Multi-country contexts are often denoted by joint UNCTs, Joint UNSDCF (incorporating multi country programming), and joint BOS.

Mutual Recognition

Is defined by the UN system as the principle that allows a UN agency to use or rely on another UN agency’s policies, procedures, and processes, without further evaluation, checks, or approvals being required. See Annex 1.


Performance is the degree to which a development intervention or a development partner operates according to specific criteria/standard/guidelines or achieves results in accordance with stated plans.

Performance monitoring

Performance monitoring is a continuous process of collecting and analyzing data for KPIs, to compare how well a development intervention, partnership, or policy reform is being implemented against expected results (achievement and progress towards targets).

Results-based management (RBM)

RBM is a management strategy by which all actors, contributing directly or indirectly to achieving a set of results, ensure that their processes, products, and services contribute to the desired results (outputs, outcomes, and higher level goals or impact) and use information and evidence on actual results to inform decision making on the design, resourcing and delivery of programmes and activities as well as for accountability and reporting.

Results Framework

The results framework explains how results are to be achieved, including causal relationships and underlying assumptions and risks. The results framework reflects a more strategic level across an entire organization, for a country programme, a programme component within a country programme, or even a project.

Risks and assumptions

Risks are potential future events that are fully or partially beyond control and may (negatively) affect the achievement of the results. Assumptions are the variables or factors that need to be in place for results to be achieved. They can be internal or external to the organization.


A target specifies a particular value for an indicator to be accomplished (annually at the planning step) by a specific date in the future, e.g. total recruitment time reduced by 75 percent by the year 2010.

Transaction costs

Transaction costs are the costs associated with the processes and activities that the UN system engages in to deliver its programmes at country level. For business operations these transaction costs are mainly internal to the system. Transaction costs are defined as direct and indirect costs and include staff and non-staff costs. Transaction costs are one of those variables through which the efficiency and effectiveness of UN country operations can be measured, supplemented by an assessment of quality of operations support to programme delivery.

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