Results-based management - also sometimes referred to as 'performance management' or 'outcome measurement' - is a project planning framework that seeks to address the growing demand for evidence that funded activities are producing long-term benefits.This demand comes especially from publicly funded organisations.
In the evaluation context, it reflects the move away from focusing on evaluating the input side of a project (e.g., financial efficiency, use of human resources) to evaluating the output side, giving more weight to how a project affects the lives of its primary stakeholders. Among the organisations that are leading proponents of results-based management are the World Bank, USAID and CIDA. For project managers it is a very useful tool for managing and monitoring projects. For beneficiaries, it is an indicator of what exactly they should expect from a project. And for evaluators, it is the most straightforward way of assessing the outcome of a project.
Results-based management is the best way to link performance measures to the intended result of a project.The establishment of specific intended results at the planning stage facilitates the later stages of management and monitoring and, most importantly, makes an evaluation study relatively easy to carry out.
Organisations vary in the way they carry out results-based management, but in all cases the focus is
on achieved results.This is ensured by:
Results-based management is seen as an essential link between evaluation and planning.When an evaluation is carried out during project implementation, the results can be fed into the ongoing planning process.When an evaluation is carried out at the end of a project, the results can be fed into subsequent strategic planning and reporting. We will look first at the framework itself, and an example of how to apply it.We then discuss results-based management within the context of monitoring and evaluation.
Results-based management relates to the way an organisation is motivated and how it applies processes and resources to achieve targeted results. It generally refers to outcomes that convey benefits to the community.The key issue is that results
differ from activities. Many people, when asked what they produce, describe their activities rather than the results of their activities (the products). The main features of results-based management are:
The assumptions in a results-based management framework are exactly the same as those for the logframe. No project is independent of what is happening in its environment, and much of what does happen is beyond the control of the project officer. Understanding and assessing the important assumptions in a project environment is an essential part of good project design. Failure to realistically identify, address and continuously monitor assumptions is a common reason for project failure.
The results-based management framework
An example of applying results-based management is given in Box 3.6.The example highlights two important characteristics of results-based management:
An example of the application of the results-based management approach
In this example, the project is about setting up a radio programme to raise the awareness of farmers in a particular area of the need to use clean tap water (not irrigation water) for household activities.
The project objective would be:
The project strategy would be:
Examples of project activities would be:
Examples of the results at various levels could be:
Using the results-based management approach,Table 3.8 lists eight questions you could use to describe your project.This is a useful exercise in learning how to be clear, concise and specific about the envisaged results of your project.
An exercise in describing a project using results-based management
Monitoring and evaluation
Results-based management advocates that, to become truly results-oriented, monitoring and evaluation needs to be aligned with annual plans and other work plans of the implementing organisation. It helps the organisation to focus on achieving outcomes, with the emphasis on the effective use of resources, not just their efficient use.
Monitoring is generally described as the collection of data over time, as described in Part 2. It helps to identify day-to-day problems during the implementation of activities. It looks at whether the activities are likely to achieve the planned target and, if not, what corrective measures need to be taken before the evaluation. Results-based management places strong emphasis on monitoring. In this approach, the acronym used to describe a good indicator is clear, relevant, economic, adequate and easily monitored (CREAM).
The key issues here are:
The key evaluation questions that are addressed by the results-based management approach
Results-based management prescribes four instances that warrant gathering evaluation information to support management decision-making:
Some key points in constructing a results-based management framework
The strengths and weaknesses of the results-based management approach