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November 2023

A busy Summer across MetricsLed’s bespoke, advisory and licensed/SaaS software teams

This newsletter brings news across our three Teams:


  • Bespoke: A major win: we’re delighted to be supporting the British Council who have been selected as the Supplier to deliver the administration of the FCDO’s Chevening and Marshall scholarship programmes. These are significant and high-profile UK government scholarship programmes. We’ll be taking a key role on the data and digital components, and in supporting the further development and roll out of the MIS platform and systems for managing all aspects of the scholarship journey, from applications through to award and alumni management.
  • Bespoke: The history of MetricsLed’s involvement in the UK’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operations and Stabilisation (HEROS) as part of the Palladium led consortium: we look at the impact of the HERMIS system we’ve set up to date and the planning for the next phase of the HEROS programme due to be tendered in 2024;


  • Licensed/SaaS: The roll out of our ML-PROJECT platform to support new programmes in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya and a snapshot of the use of our licensed platforms globally to support established partners Adam Smith International, Alinea, FH 360, Crown Agents, DAI, and Palladium to deliver programmes funded byDEFRA, the Canadian Government, GSMA, the Investment Bank UBS and the UK’s Home Office and the Foreign Office.


  • Advisory: News of MetricsLed’s advocacy programme and advisory work and the rapidly developing pipeline of work in the digital delivery, grant platform and cyber strengthening space;
  • Advisory: A call for advisers for forthcoming and current programmes and details of how to register on our ML-ROSTER.

Major new global win for MetricsLed’s Bespoke and Advisory Team

Chevening Scholarship Programme

A major win: we’re delighted to be supporting the British Council to deliver the administration of the FCDO’s flagship Chevening and Marshall scholarship programmes.

The Chevening and Marshall Scholarships are major UK government scholarship programmes. We’ll be taking a key role on the data and digital components, supporting programme delivery and further developing the MIS platform and systems for managing all aspects of the scholarship journey, alumni management etc.

This win burnishes MetricsLed’s credentials as the ‘go-to partner’ for complex programmes funded from aid/diplomatic budgets with core tech requirements.  It highlights our capacity to develop and design bespoke platforms and our capability to support complex and sensitive multi agency global programming.

A snapshot of the Chevening and Marshall scholarships is provided below.

Chevening Scholarships

Chevening is the UK government’s largest scholarships programme for international students. Established in 1983, Chevening scholarships support study for 1-year Master’s degrees at any UK university.

Scholarships are awarded to people who demonstrate the potential to become future leaders, senior decision-makers and opinion formers.

Chevening also offers a limited number of fellowships to mid-career professionals.

Applications for Chevening Scholarships open in August or September and close in November each year.

Find out more on the Chevening website.

Marshall Scholarships

In 1953 the UK Parliament established Marshall Scholarships to thank the American people for the Marshall Plan which provided post-war support for reconstruction. The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission manages the Marshall Scholarship, and the FCDO funds it.

Marshall provides scholarships to talented young American people to undertake post-graduate degrees at UK universities.

Applications for Marshall Scholarships open in May and close in September each year.

Find out more on the Marshall Scholarships website.

MetricsLed’s Licensed platforms: ML-PROJECT & ML-ROSTER

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’s footprint grows

October 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.

MetricsLed’s platform 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.

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.

We also currently provide our licensed platforms to:

  1. 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;
  2. Alinea uses ML-PROJECT to support a global technical assistance facility focussed on governance, funded by the Canadian Government and in use in Ukraine and elsewhere;
  3. Crown Agents uses ML-PROJECT to support 2 grant programmes in Ukraine: one funded by FCDO and one by investment bank UBS;
  4. 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 GCBCaims to establish a global network of research institutions and experts to address critical research gaps in how the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity can address climate solutions and improve livelihoods.


We’re continuing to test and roll out ML-ROSTER for our client FH 360 for use across EMEA. 

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 HERO’s programme and the Australian equivalent. 

The Humanitarian Emergency Response Operations and Stabilisation (HEROS) programme

The Humanitarian Emergency Response Operations and Stabilisation (HEROS) programme provides capacity, advisory, and operational support to the UK’s global humanitarian emergency response and stabilisation effort.   The primary client is the Foreign Office (FCDO) and the Humanitarian and Emergency, Reconstruction and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT)

Since 2017 MetricsLed has led the design and operational management of the HERMIS system that underpins all elements of the HEROS programme from early warning tools, through to management of warehousing for pre-positioned emergency supplies and deployment of civilian experts.

HERMIS draws on data from over two decades of slow burn, recurring and sudden onset emergencies and incident response.  It was originally built out of MetricsLed’s experience of MIS developments for a complex $140 million US/UK led multi-donor programme of aid to rebel held Syrian enclaves.

It’s now a complex and dynamic system that pulls together and integrates warehousing, prepositioning, early warning, roster management, deployment, asset tracking.  It draws on data from a range of sources, networks, and partners.  It’s a system that can be used to stand up a fully connected ‘situation room’: a command-and-control centre with incident specific dashboarding and live feeds.  HERMIS has been through many iterations and upgrades and is now mapped onto the UK government architecture and protocols for emergency response from Duty Officer to Post.  HERMIS also been built to support all the UK’s official civilian deployments from across Whitehall as well as from prequalified and standing rosters of deployable experts.

The recently circulated review of the HEROS programme gave a snapshot of the scope and impact of MetricsLed’s work supporting the FCDO’s response to global humanitarian emergencies between 2018 – 2022.

Response and reach

HSOT has provided support to at least 102 different responses and worked in 150 countries between 2018 and 2022. This is well beyond the target of ‘at least six new crises each year’ set in the HEROS logical framework (LFA). These have included large-scale and rapid-onset responses as well as surge support to protracted crises. In total, since 2017, HSOT has delivered 1,071 humanitarian deployments, 76 Procurement and Logistics (P&L) responses, deployment management and security services for 426 Deployable Civilian Expert (DCE) deployments, and supported 309 UN Standby Partner deployments. Since 2019, the Early Warning and Analysis Risk (EWAR) team has produced the monthly HEWN, summarising changes in risks for senior stakeholders, and almost 200 Situational Reports with detailed updates to operational decision-makers within HMG humanitarian systems.

HSOT Systems

‘HSOT (MetricsLed’s primary client within FCDO) has established a set of ‘standing’ systems and capabilities capable of surging and shrinking in line with needs, seen as critical for enabling effective and timely responses.

These include both direct service delivery, such as the Humanitarian Early Warning Notes (HEWN) early warning and analysis and the 24-hour duty roster, as well as indirect service delivery functions, such as consultant and sub-contractor management, roster maintenance, and warehouse stockpiles in strategic geographies. This enables HSOT to effectively support humanitarian preparedness (HEROS Outcome 3), timely (Outcome 1) and high-quality responses (Outcome 2), and OCSM’s operational capability to support National Security Council (NSC) objectives (Outcome 4).

HERO’s overall performance and impact of systems on delivery

Overall, HSOT is seen as performing well by end-clients, the FCDO, and deployees themselves. Clients felt that HSOT’s combination of standing and surge delivery capacity provides sufficient expertise and flexibility to respond to requests in a timely manner and adapt to shifts (Outcome 1), and that access to stockpiles and P&L expertise improved preparedness (Outcome 3). This enables the FCDO to (a) draw on expertise unavailable or tied up within the civil service to increase response capacity (Outcome 2) and (b) ensure staff time is strategically utilised, in keeping with the original business case rationale for the use of a private-sector supplier. End-clients and FCDO stakeholders felt that HSOT’s efficient and effective management of deployments of humanitarian and stabilisation expertise enabled the FCDO to provide bespoke and flexible responses to humanitarian crises (Outcome 2) and contributed to NSC objectives to address conflict and stability overseas (Outcome 4). Clients also reported satisfaction with HSOT expertise and services during its ‘business as usual’ support, including policy and ad-hoc advisory, targeted analytical outputs, and substantial operational and technical maintenance work to ensure readiness to respond.’

This is an exciting time to be involved because there’s a lot going in the application of new technologies to humanitarian relief: excited at the rapid developments in the technology and thinking on the use of platforms such as HERMIS for the FCDO and other donors. For the next phase of HEROS we see all sorts of opportunities.
  • to build more capacity in the system through automation and the power of API driven machine-to-machine working: since 2017 the use of our API fed automated risk flagging tools has increased the number of crises that the FCDO actively tracks from around a handful in 2016 to over 130 in 2023.
  • To build efficiencies and cost savings into the HMG system by further building integration between pillars of the UK’s humanitarian response. Tackling siloes by linking and joining up elements of the early warning system with procurement activity and HR and roster requirements.
  • To apply the power of AI to the challenges posed by seeking to ingest data from social media to inform both early warning systems and slow burn and sudden onset emergencies and incident response.
  • For vigorous debate on what constitutes the correct level of OSINT for global and local trend analysis. How much to spend processing what data?  Which commercially provided data should be used, on what terms?
  • To further promulgate the use of data to challenge inbuilt bias within Whitehall (and humans more generally!). The ‘narrative bias’ still has a deep hold within the humanitarian response ecosystem with issues being identified, papers drafted and then the data generated to support the issue or narrative required.   The HERMIS system – with its focus on indicator sets and early warning – has begun to challenge the narrative-based mindset with the data flagging the issues rather than the other way round.  We’ve lots of ideas of how to challenge bias and overcome narrative led and analogue thinking.
These are some crunchy issues and areas which we explore in more detail in my Chairman’s Blog: We’re looking forward to discussion and debate as the market is consulted on the detailed scope of HEROS 2.0.

Advocacy, mainstreaming, the pipeline and prospects for digital delivery

We’ve been making the case in our comms and advocacy work on the need for donors to do more to mainstream digital approaches to the conception and design of aid and humanitarian response and programming. 

In recent weeks we’ve been arguing that focus on AI shouldn’t distract from the nuts and bolts of digital transformation.  Expressing the hope that the international development community as a whole – and the tech/digital/data folk within it – don’t get so preoccupied and distracted with the big debates on AI that they divert attention, resources and funding from policies and programmes that aim to support digital transformation on the ground now, today in real time.

Practical and tested ‘Nuts and Bolts’ type programmes that focus on closing the ‘digital divide’: ensuring broader access to connectivity, strengthening data architecture and governance, building digital public infrastructure to support digital identity, payments, data exchange and access to public services. See our recent blog and AI and International Development: (4) Post | Feed | LinkedIn

This digital divide is where international development aid should be focussed: grinding out digital transformation and change, strengthening and building countries, institutions and people, digging the foundations on which to open access.

And recent months have been encouraging for those of us who work putting in the hard yards to grind out these projects and who track the pipeline of work coming through.  The slew of recent and upcoming projects that have core tech components, or focussed on cyber, data or digital delivery suggests that the best in class bilateral and multilateral donors – the World Bank, FCDO etc. – are now following USAID’s digitisation mainstreaming lead and beginning to set down a pipeline of opportunities in the cyber, data or digital delivery space.

Call for advisors

To meet this growing demand MetricsLed are looking for experts and advisers to join us in helping close the ‘digital divide’ on our existing and upcoming projects.

We’d love to hear from you if have experience of working to:

  • develop policies and institutional arrangements to support and regulate technology & innovation
  • ensure broader access to connectivity and national or regional level,
  • digitise government services
  • strengthen data architecture, cyber security and governance,
  • build digital public infrastructure to support digital identity, payments, data exchange and access to public services. 

We’re particularly interested to hear from people who have experience of working with and for government on issues relating to the above. 

To register your interest please send a cv to: [email protected]