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The Chairman's Blog

Digital Delivery up and running? What’s driving the digitisation of the aid sector?

December 19, 2023

This year has seen the steady advance of the cause of – and calls for – digital delivery in aid and humanitarian programming.   This advance, long heralded, is now gathering pace driven by many big global factors: not least the power and performative activism of ‘big tech’ in Ukraine, the promise of AI and the surge of complex emergencies.

Policies shift 

But policies and modalities are shifting too:  for some years USAID has been looking to mainstream digital approaches into all its programming.  The UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has just unveiled an impressive list of priorities for promoting innovation in aid delivery and addressing the digital divide for the very poorest in its November White Paper. 

Another key factor has been the shift towards localisation:  this has driven the need for innovative new mechanisms to be designed to ensure delivery is driven by local actors and through verified supply chains. 

What it all means for ML?

For the team at MetricsLed 2023 has felt like the year that the promise and potential for digital delivery – suggested by these big global trends, challenges and policy shifts – has started to come through into the procurement pipeline in the UK as elsewhere.

This has been reflected in the rapid growth in the use of our flagship ML-PROJECT delivery platform and in the interest in and take up of our new ML–ROSTER platform.  We’ve also seen a marked increase both in the volume of bid writing through the year and ML’s win rate. 

Our praise for ML-PROJECT says, ‘Purpose-built for the aid sector, ML-PROJECT brings together your tasks, projects and programmes – and the processes that support them – in a single secure management platform’.  But I like to see it as a ‘Swiss Army Penknife’ for programme delivery with all the components and tools for successful delivery in one place. 

We hope the overview of ML-PROJECT’s 2023/24 footprint supports that view: with the platform supporting a range of innovative programming, through practical and intuitive tools and processes in extremely challenging delivery contexts.

We see the interest in ML–ROSTER as reflecting both the retender of Humanitarian Emergency Response Operations and Stabilisation (HEROS) successor programme (HEROS 2.0) and the increased use of rosters of prequalified advisors in the management and delivery of framework contracts by FCDO and other donors.

ML SaaS in 2023/24


MetricsLed PROJECT is a SaaS software solution that brings the speed, scalability, and efficiency of the Cloud to project management. Hardened for use in restricted, kinetic, hard to reach, and over the horizon settings ML-PROJECT can be deployed at project, portfolio, and enterprise levels.  The platform offers.

  • Dashboarding
  • Grant Making and Due Diligence
  • Work Planning and Delivery Monitoring
  • Budget Tracking, Claims Processing and Forecasting
  • Risk Management
  • Supply Chain Compliance
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Assessment and Learning


PROJECT’s Growing footprint

Late Autumn 2023 saw ASI kick off the FCDO Borderlands Programme which supports the delivery of the East Africa CSSF Programme, with an emphasis on ensuring a deep understanding of the local context in the Kenya – Somalia – Ethiopia borderlands, through conflict sensitivity and inclusion.

ML-PROJECT will be used to monitor and support delivery against project outcomes, ensuring robust risk management and effective and consistent working relationships with internal and external partners.

We’re delighted to expand our footprint in the Horn of Africa through our partnership with Adam Smith International with whom we already work in the region to deliver the grant component of the Somalia Stability Fund.

ML-PROJECT is also used by ASI to support two further FCDO funded programmes in the Middle East: a programme of Technical Assistance focussed on supporting key Government agencies to close the digital divide in Iraq and a humanitarian grant programme in the Levant.

Amongst many others we currently provide ML–PROJECT to:

  • Palladium who hold a corporate license for ML-PROJECT which they use to complete Supplier Due Diligence and to manage their supply chains. Palladium also hold a project license for the FCDO PACT Programme which it delivers and for a global organisation/association of mobile phone operators which aims to strengthen the mobile ecosystem,
  • Alinea uses ML-PROJECT to support a global technical assistance and expert deployment facility focussed on governance, funded by the Canadian Government and in use in Ukraine and elsewhere,
  • Crown Agentsuses ML-PROJECT to support 2 grant programmes in Ukraine: one funded by FCDO and one by investment bank UBS,
  • DAI uses ML-PROJECT on a DEFRA funded Grant Programme: the Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC) Through a series of research grant calls the GCBC aims to establish a global network of research institutions and experts to address critical research gaps.

We expect to announce further new programmes for ML-PROJECT in early 2024 as a number of bids we are part of are currently held in a standstill period.

ML–PROJECT in numbers

  • 2,000+ live users
  • 15 £1 million+ (annual spend) programmes supported
  • £750 million of grant applications evaluated in last 12 months
  • 20,000+ programme reviews
  • Working with 3,500+ organisations

To request a demonstration of ML-PROJECT please contact us via our online form (found here).


We’re continuing to test and roll out ML-ROSTER for several clients.   

ML-ROSTER allows companies to develop and maintain rosters of staff and contractors that are compliant with GDPR regulations.  It’s designed primarily to support bid processes and to help manage frameworks.   The system is automated to ensure regular contact with members of the rosters and allows specialist cadres of advisers to be developed and maintained. 

In the last month ML has been asked to set up ML-ROSTER for 3 of the UK’s largest aid/humanitarian contractors.  This work is live and follows an upsurge of interest in roster management linked ongoing procurement of several programmes where roster management is core: most recently the UK HEROS programme and the Australian equivalent. 

To request a demonstration of ML-ROSTER please contact us via our online form (found here).