Increasingly organisations are being asked to account not just for the outputs they produce but more importantly for the outcomes they are achieving and the impact they are making.
Your organisation may be very busy generating lots of activities and outputs but is it making a difference or do you even know? If your answer is not a lot or I don’t really know, then you need to focus on putting in place an impact assessment and outcome measurement system.
This can sound daunting for a lot of organisations but unless you are able to measure and show your impact, you risk missing out in funding, support and attracting the right staff and volunteers to your organisation.
You need to determine what impact you want to achieve and how your organisation needs to set about achieving it. For impact assessment and an outcome measurement plan to be effective the following four key components need to be in place and understood. These are the basic building blocks for your outcome measurement system and they are:
1. Clearly defined outcomes
What do we want to achieve? Where we want to get to?
- Is this clearly defined? (with outcome measures and targets defined and set)
- Is the target population (group/sub groups) defined locally, nationally, regionally?
- Is there an organisation-wide strategy/policy in place (with defined goals, objectives, guiding principles, approach, methodologies, systems etc. for this outcome area)?
2. Established baselines
Do we know where we are starting from?
- Has the pre-intervention position or our starting point been defined and established?
- How has it been defined? – If it is not defined, what is required to determine the baseline position? (surveys, research, etc.)
- How reliable/robust is the baseline?
- What actual and proxy indicators and measures can we use to track and evaluate progress?
3. Knowing how to get there
Moving from the current baseline to required outcome
- Has the scale of what is required been quantified?
- What are the range and scale of the interventions (projects, programmes, etc.) that are required to make it happen?
- Have the resource and skills requirements (funding & staffing) been assessed, secured and deployed?
- Who can we or do we need to get involved to help us achieve our outcome? Have our partner requirements been identified, selected and secured?
- Have infrastructure and support systems (structures, systems, guidelines technology, training, etc.) been identified and put in place?
- Has the timeline for achieving the outcome been determined and agreed?
- Has the achievement of the outcome been phased and an implementation plan developed and approved?
4. Keeping track
Measurement, Evaluation & Reporting
- Define the indicators & targets (activity, output, initial outcomes, intermediate & long-term outcomes)
- Put the data capture and analysis systems in place
- Design and implement the evaluation & reporting mechanisms – internal & external, post programme reviews (e.g. 12, 24, 60 months)
- Design and implement sharing and learning systems
Being able to demonstrate your outcomes and impact requires pre-determination of what you wish to achieve and putting the necessary systems and infrastructure outlined above in place otherwise if just won’t happen.