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How ASYCUDA is Implemented

Home iconPre-Installation Phase

ASYCUDA is installed at the request of developing country governments, with the assistance of UNCTAD experts, when the following have been completed or are in place:

  • Field studies by UNCTAD experts to ensure that the environment (e.g. political situation, staff incentives) lends itself to implementing ASYCUDA
  • An agreement with the government institutions concerned regarding the installation of the system and the preparation of a technical cooperation project document
  • Funding of the technical assistance ensured* and the corresponding document signed
* Funds needed to supplement the national contribution can be negotiated through UNCTAD.
a discussion with laptops and notes

Home iconImplementation Phase

Implementation of the system is generally carried out in two phases:

  • A trade facilitation phase during which customs procedures, documents and codes are harmonized and the software adapted to the country’s needs
  • An implementation phase during which:
    1. Equipment is installed
    2. Adjustments are made relating to the organization of work, technical configuration and information interchange mechanisms
    3. UNCTAD holds training sessions for national customs officials and the local trade community
    4. Test sessions are held to ensure the smooth running of the system
    5. The final automated system is introduced

Home iconPost-Installation Assistance

Once the system has been installed, UNCTAD continues to assist with software maintenance and provides system updates.

Project Organization, Project Plans, and System Changes

Home iconProject Management


To ensure that the project reaches its objectives in an efficient manner, a clear and dynamic organizational structure is required. It follows the logical management framework ascribed to each ASYCUDA project, the principles of which are:

  • Clear leadership
  • Well-defined delegated authority
  • Clearly assigned responsibilities
  • Transparency for all entities involved
  • Consistent planning and monitoring
  • Firm control

The customs department will have overall project management control while also chairing a project steering group. Customs will appoint a national project director responsible for the day-to-day running of the project. The director will be advised and assisted by UNCTAD experts.

Activities leading to the realization of stages, milestones and the project objectives will be carried out by the following working groups: the technical team, the application development team and the functional team.

The following entities will perform the different tasks and the respective responsibilities will be confirmed at the outset of the operation.

Home iconOrganizational Entities

The Steering Group

The steering group usually includes the customs Director-General, the national project director, donor representative(s), and UNCTAD. Representatives of other government departments with an interest in specific components of the project, for example, the ministries of finance, industry and trade, and the central statistical office may be co-opted as necessary.

The group’s mandate is to:

  • Provide overall leadership and project direction
  • Make strategic business decisions
  • Provide financial authority
  • Monitor project progress at regular intervals
  • Ensure coordination of all involved parties

The National Project Director

The post of national project director is a full-time responsibility. The director is selected from the customs department and appointed by the Director-General. They will be responsible for operational decisions, institutional liaison and strategic planning. They will assume day-to-day responsibility for managing the project at every stage. It will be essential to define their delegated powers and authority for decision-making on operational issues in relation to those of the steering group.

The Project Support Unit (PSU)

The PSU will provide day-to-day support to the national project director. Its responsibilities include:

  • Liaison at all levels between the project team, end users in the customs department, other ministries, private sector, etc.
  • Administrative functions in relation to the customs department resources, budgets, reports, etc.

It is recommended that the PSU should have responsibility for the project’s essential quality assurance function, drawing upon UNCTAD and the customs department’s business and technical inputs as required. This ensures the technical integrity of the end product and that system outputs meet users’ functional needs and timeline.


UNCTAD participates in the steering group, providing inputs to the national project director, and is responsible for its own internal or external deliverables.

UNCTAD’s overall planning, coordination and monitoring services aim at continuously assessing business and technical integrity, ensuring that the general conditions for project viability and longer-term profitability are established and maintained.

The Technical Team

The technical team will design and implement the technical parts of the system. They will provide overall technical support for the project and detailed hardware installation plans for all sites, as well as prepare and provide all technical documentation and special training of operator personnel. The team will comprise personnel from UNCTAD and the customs department, assisted as and when required by local partners.

The Application Development Team

The application development team are responsible for the development of any customs department application based upon the core ASYCUDAWorld package. They will carry out all tasks related to additional application software development. They will also ensure the interface between customs and statistical systems as well as produce the management information outputs required by the customs department. The team will comprise personnel from UNCTAD and the customs department.

The Funtional Team

The functional team will include staff from the customs department and an UNCTAD customs adviser. Its initial task will be to participate in the re-engineering of customs procedures. The team will then be responsible for preparing user manuals and training material. They will be responsible for designing the user training programme and training customs’ core instructors. Further tasks will include preparing test data and conducting system tests.

Home iconSystems Development, Changes and Enhancements

As a result of changes in international obligations or operational difficulties experienced, requests for system enhancements or changes may arise. These may include proposed modifications to the existing system, the definition of system interfaces or the integration of alternative software solutions for particular applications.

In close coordination with the customs department, UNCTAD will implement – either during the pilot project, or prior to the system roll-out phase – all such changes approved by the steering group.

Home iconProject Workplans and Tools

A detailed workplan will be developed at the outset using Microsoft Project.* This tool will enable the national project team to efficiently schedule tasks, manage resources and closely monitor project performance. It will generate reports enabling the project team to analyse the consequences of delayed inputs. It therefore also serves as an early warning system minimizing project overruns.

Home iconTransfer of Project Management Skills to Customs

From the outset of the project planning stage the active participation of customs department staff is vital to set realistic and attainable goals. Customs staff will become familiar with Microsoft Project through their daily use of the package, in cooperation with the UNCTAD experts. UNCTAD experts, together with project partners, will transfer the necessary skills and know-how as part of the day-to-day working relationship.

* or similar package.