Sharpening the focus on measurement

October 16, 2007 at 1:53 pm 2 comments

It is often difficult to get organisations away from simply measuring “outputs” – what is produced – to measuring “outcomes” – what are the effects of outputs.

Funny enough, many organisations want to go from the very superficial measuring of output (e.g. how many news articles did we generate) to the very in-depth measuring of impact (e.g. the long term effect of our media visibility on audiences). Impact is feasible but difficult to measure, as I’ve written about before. However, instead of focusing on the two ends of the measurement scale, organisations would perhaps be wise to focus on “outcome” measurement.

I think this quote from a UN Development Programme Evaluation Manual (pdf) sums up why outcome is an appropriate level to measure for most organisations:

“Today, the focus of UNDP evaluations is on outcomes, because this level of results reveals more about how effective UNDP’s actions are in achieving real development changes. A focus on outcomes also promises a shorter timeframe and more credible linkages between UNDP action and an eventual effect than does a focus on the level of overall improvement in people’s lives, which represent much longer-term and diffuse impacts .”

The notion of the shorter timeframe and more credible linkages is certainly appealing for many organisations considering their focus of evaluation.


Entry filed under: Development evaluation, Evaluation methodology, General, PR evaluation, Training evaluation.

Impact – how feasible for evaluation? Cause and effect – goal?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The path from outputs to outcomes « intelligent measurement  |  February 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    […] produce) and not on “outcomes” (what their activities actually achieve), as I’ve written about before. Many international organisations and NGOs have now adopted a “results-based […]

  • […] – NGOs often desire to focus on measuring outcomes – what has been achieved as a result of programmes – as they provide more feedback on what has actually changed than outputs – but can be measured in a shorter time frame than impact (as I’ve written about before); […]


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