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How ASYCUDA is Implemented

Pre-Installation Phase

ASYCUDA is installed at the request of developing country governments with the assistance of UNCTAD experts once:

  • studies carried out in the field by UNCTAD experts to assess conditions in countries requesting the system have shown that the environment (political situation, staff incentive etc.) lends itself to the implementation of ASYCUDA.
  • an agreement has been reached with the government institutions concerned regarding the installation of the system and the preparation of a technical co-operation project document.
  • the funding of the technical assistance has been arranged (funds needed to supplement national contribution can be negotiated through UNCTAD) and the corresponding document has been signed.

Implementation Phase

The implementation of the system is general carried out in two phases:

  • a trade facilitation phase during which Customs procedures, documents and codes are harmonized and the software is adapted to the country’s needs.
  • an implementation phase during which:
    1. equipment is installed.
    2. definitive adjustments are made concerning the organization of work, technical configuration and information interchange mechanisms.
    3. UNCTAD organizes training sessions for national Customs officials and the local trade community.
    4. test sessions are organized to guarantee the smooth running of the system.
    5. the final automated system is introduced.

Post-Installation Assistance

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

Project Organisation, Project Plans, and System Changes

a discussion with laptops and notes

Project Management


To make sure that the project reaches its objectives in an efficient manner, a clear and dynamic project Organisation 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.

It should be clearly noted that under the proposed Organisation, overall project management will be under the direct control of Customs department at all times. Overall direction will be undertaken by a Steering Group chaired by Customs department.

A National Project Director will be appointed by the Customs department to be responsible for the day-to-day running of the project. He/she will be advised and assisted by the experts provided by UNCTAD.

Activities leading to the realisation of stages, milestones and the project objective will be carried out by working groups established under three main headings, the Technical team, the Application Development team and the End-User team.

The entities described below will be required to perform the different tasks. The responsibilities will be confirmed at the outset of the operation.

Organisational Entities

The Steering Group

will normally be composed of the Director General of the Customs department, the National Project Director, donor representative(s), and UNCTAD. Representatives from other Government Departments with an interest in specific components of the project, for example, the ministries of Finance and 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 checkpoints.
  • ensure co-ordination of all involved parties.

The National Project Director

is drawn from the Customs department, is appointed by the Director General, and is a full time responsibility. He will be responsible for operational decisions, institutional liaison and strategic planning relating to the ASYCUDA project. He/she will assume day-to-day responsibility for management of the project throughout all its stages. It will be essential to define his/her delegated powers and authority for decision-making on operational issues in relation to those of the Steering Group.

The Project Support Unit (PSU)

will, as the title indicates, provide day-to-day support to the National Project Director. In essence the responsibilities should be:

  • liaison at all levels between the project team, end-users in the Customs department, other ministries, the private Sector etc.
  • administrative functions in relation to the Customs department resources, budgets, reports etc.

To simplify the management Organisation it may also be advisable, and indeed it is recommended, that the PSU also incorporates the essential Quality Assurance function for the project calling on UNCTAD and the Customs department business and technical inputs as required. This function assures the technical integrity of the end product and that system outputs are meeting the needs/requirements in terms of both functionality and timescales for the User.


UNCTAD is represented in the Steering Committee providing inputs in accordance with the relevant section of the project document to the National Project Director, responsible for their own “internal” or “external” deliveries.

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

will design and implement the technical parts of the system. This work will provide overall technical support for the project and detailed hardware installation plans for all sites, the preparation and provision of all technical documentation and specific training of operator personnel. The technical team will be composed of UNCTAD and Customs department personnel assisted as and when required by local partners.

The Application Development Team

The Application Development Team will be in charge of the development of any Customs department application based upon the core ASYCUDAWorld package. This group will carry out all tasks related to additional application software development required by the Customs department. It will also assure the interface between the Customs and Statistical systems and produce the Management Information outputs required by the Customs department. The team will consist of UNCTAD and Customs department personnel.

The End-User Team

will be staffed with Customs department and UNCTAD Customs Adviser. The initial tasks of the End-User Team will be to participate in the re-engineering of Customs procedures. The team will then be responsible for the preparation of user manuals and training material. This team will design the user training programme and train Customs department core instructors. Further tasks will be the preparation of test data and the conduct of system tests.

Systems Development, Changes and Enhancements

As a result of changes in international obligations or operational difficulties experienced, requests for system enhancements or changes may be generated. These may include proposed modifications to the existing system, the definition of system interfaces or the integration of alternative software solutions for particular applications. UNCTAD will undertake, in close coordination with the Customs department to implement, either during the pilot project, or at worst prior to the system roll- out phase all such changes approved by the Steering Committee in accordance with the relevant section of the project document.

Project Workplans and Tools

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

Transfer of Skills to The Customs Department in Using Project Management Tools

As mentioned above, Microsoft Project* will be used as the project management tool. From the outset of the project planning stage the active participation of Customs department staff is vital in order to set realistic and attainable goals. Customs department staff will become very familiar in the use of Microsoft Project through their daily use of the package in co-operation with the UNCTAD experts. UNCTAD experts, together with project partners, will of course transfer the necessary skills and know-how as part of the day-to-day working relationship.
* or similar package.