The Business Operations Strategy (BOS) is a results-based framework that focuses on joint business operations with the purpose of eliminating duplication, leveraging the common bargaining power of the UN and maximizing economies of scale. The BOS was created in 2012 as a response to a call for simplification and harmonization of the United Nations system. The Secretary-General mandates all United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) to ensure compliance with an improved BOS by 2021, in support of a more effective programme delivery on the 2030 Agenda.

The BOS focuses on common services that are implemented jointly or delivered by one UN entity on behalf of other UN entities. Building on lessons learnt and feedback from numerous country offices that developed a BOS since 2012, this guidance outlines the improved approach to BOS.

This guidance replaces all other guidance on BOS and aims to support UNCTs to establish quality and cost-effective common services at the country level. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the principles of mutual recognition [1] which substantially facilitate the cooperation between signatory UN entities.

The BOS Executive Summary accompanies this guidance and targets Resident Coordinators (RCs), UNCT members, and OMT Chairs/members to support their oversight, implementation and advocacy towards meeting their obligations to roll-out BOS, as set down by the UN Secretary-General.

The BOS is now:

  • Dynamic and adaptable: It encourages brainstorming, innovating and researching new opportunities to collaborate in response to programmatic needs. It is reviewed and updated yearly to ensure it remains relevant in changing country contexts.

  • Focused on quality and cost – It strives to improve timeliness, responsiveness, flexibility and professionalism while streamlining processes and reducing direct costs. The Cost Benefit Analysis has been revamped and standard quality and cost KPIs have been developed to provide a measure of impact for all common services.

  • Results oriented – It has a stronger focus on the implementation of selected common services and on simplified annual reporting of results, tracking cost avoidance and quality enhancements.

  • Promotes environmental sustainability – Highlighting the potential of common services to improve sustainable development practices bringing us a step closer to the achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Dedicated support – A Task Team for BOS has been set up to provide dedicated support to UNCTs.

  • The foundation for Common Back Offices – It aims to build quality into the planning, implementation and reporting of BOS to support a reliable evidence-based foundation for the establishment of Common Back Offices worldwide.

[1] See Annex 1

Last updated