Tools for project planning in community development
Online Course Module 8 of 9
Synthesising project design using a LogFrame
This is Module 8 of our free online course, 'Tools for Project Planning in Community Development'. To visit the course homepage, click here.
The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a systematic planning method used to bring together all of the project planning information you have gathered (in previous modules) into a single ‘master framework’.
In the last four decades the LFA has become an increasingly popular tool in international development, so much so that it is now required by nearly all government and private donors around the globe as an indicator of quality project design. The LFA allows a project team to work through decisions when synthesising a project, producing a matrix that clearly identifies each element of the implementation strategy, as well as the project’s desired outcomes and specific indicators for monitoring and evaluation.
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What is a Logical Framework?
A LogFrame is a 4x4 matrix that provides a concise and strategic summary of a project’s goals, activities, assumptions, indicators, and sources of verification in order to measure and report the achievement of objectives.
Before looking at the LogFrame, read or review the previous modules to make sure you have all the necessary information. You will need to be aware of the following:
A checklist before synthesising your LogFrame:
Know your Donor’s Requirements: A donor will sometimes have explicit requirements for a LogFrame, make sure you know what they are and stick to them.
Conduct a Situational Analysis: This will allow you to better understand your context and incorporate risk management. See Module 2 for more details about Situational Analysis.
Analyse the problem: This can be done by working through a Problem or Solution Tree Analysis, and will help you better understand the causes and effect of the problem you are working to resolve. See Module 3 for details on Problems/ Solution/ Objective Trees.
Know your who your Stakeholders are and how you are going to involve them in the project. See Module 4 for more details about a Stakeholder Analysis
Know your Chosen Interventions and understand the Theory of Change that will ensure that these interventions lead to the development your organisation seeks. See Module 5 for details about choosing an intervention and Module 6 for information about the Theory of Change Analysis.
Have identified the verifiable indicators and Monitoring & Evaluation strategies that you intend to use to track the success of your project outputs. See Module 7 for more information about Monitoring and Evaluation.
Creating your own LogFrame
With the help of a Guide and Example LogFrame, we will show you step-by-step how to develop your own LogFrame. Please be intimidated - as the name suggests, the process is Logical. However, it does require some time and patience to complete correctly. Remember, the language around the various sections of the framework may change based on your donor’s preferences/requirements, but the structure (and logic) remains the same.
Remember to Involve the entire project team when putting together your Logical Framework: this allows for a wide range of expertise that can more specifically reflect and support the objectives of the project and ensure that nothing is missed.
This Guide highlights the different pieces of information that should be placed in each section of your LogFrame table. On the next page, we’ll explore the exact steps in more detail.
You can download a template for this tool here: ‘Resource 17 - Logical Framework'. Use this resource as a guide when you are planning your own community development project.
A two-step process: Vertical and Horizontal
There are two distinct steps to completing a LogFrame analysis. The vertical process, which is completed first, represents the core elements that make up your program. The horizontal process provides more detail about how these core elements will be monitored, evaluated and managed by your team. We will explore these two seperate processes individually in the section below
The first, and most important, section of your framework is the ‘vertical logic’ or means-end relationships. This is used to highlight the means (outputs and activities) that will lead to your ends (goal and purpose). Outline the hierarchy of activities by following these steps:
1. Define the over-arching goal that your project will help to achieve.
Remember, your project purpose (identified in the next step) will usually only represent one small step towards achieving this goal
2. Define your project’s purpose. These are the medium-term benefits to beneficiaries of your activities.
What are the intended or desired effects of your project specifically? These will be closely related to the medium-term goals you identified in your Theory of Change framework from Module 6.
Who will benefit from these projects?
What improvements or changes will the program or project bring about?
3. Identify the (desirable) outputs required to achieve your identified purpose.
These are the immediate effects of your activities. These will be closely related to the short-term goals identified in your Theory of Change framework from Module 6.
What are the specific, deliverable outputs your project seeks to achieve in the community?
4. Outline the activities needed to achieve each output.
What are the specific initiatives that your organisation is planning to undertake in the community?
Most organisations prefer to work top-down, starting with goals and then working down to initiatives as outlined above. However, if you have already begun your project and your activities are already fixed, you may want to try building your LogFrame from the
bottom-up. This is why a team approach can be helpful in developing your LogFrame, as knowing where you have flexibility in design will allow you to complete the framework more efficiently.
Once you’ve broken the project down into levels from goals to activities (or vice-versa) you will then be able to input the measurable indicators you will use to identify success, the means of verification you will use to monitor these indicators and the risks and assumptions that might impact upon your project’s success. This is considered the project’s ‘horizontal logic‘.
1. Outline specific indicators for all tiers, refining the results by detailing how you will know that the goal, purpose, outputs and activities have been achieved.
You should have a good idea of what these indicators will be from the Monitoring and Evaluation Analysis Plan that you built in Module 7.
Indicators should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative objectively verifiable indicators which generally incorporate measurable targets.
EXAMPLE: Provide 90% of pregnant women living in the Ecuadorian village of Canoa an antenatal care service at 10weeks, 20weeks and 30weeks gestation between 01/01/18 and 01/07/18
2. Input the means of verification. Here, you need to identify methods to measure your indicators and assess your performance.
As with your measurable indicators, you should also be able to use the means of verification you identified in Module 7 for this step.
These should also have been identified during your Monitoring and Evaluation Analysis Plan.
To make this process easier, it is often helpful to draw upon methods of verification that are already available within the community.
EXAMPLE: To verify whether a hygiene education project is leading to decreased instances of cholera in a rural community, ask the local doctor to provide a de-identified list of the number of patients presenting with cholera related symptoms over the time periods before, during and after your project.
3. Specify the assumptions and risks to your project within each level to provide additional context and support to your project summaries.
This process is important in order to prepare for, and help mitigate, any of the risks that might sabotage your project`s success. You will have identified some of these during your Situational Analysis in Module 2. Possible areas for assumptions and risks could be:
The internal weaknesses of your organisation that relate to your project`s success.
Use the SWAT or SCOPE tool from Module 2 to identify internal risks and assumptions.
he external infrastructure or environmental factors that relate to your project`s success.
Use the PESTLE tool from Module 4 tool to identify external risks and assumptions.
EXAMPLE: For a project providing irrigation systems to help boost local food production, an assumption might be that enough water will be available for your new technology to be used.
EXAMPLE: Given your organisation’s limited resources, providing 90% of local women with antenatal care in the Ecuadorian village of Canoa might rely upon the assumption that the population of local women doesn’t increase or that pregnancy rates stay constant.
EXAMPLE: A possible risk for a women’s self defence initiative might be that men might prevent their wives from attending workshops due to engrained cultural gender norms.
The purpose here is not to simply identify risks and assumptions, but to begin thinking about strategies you can build into your project to prevent them from affecting your work.
EXAMPLE: To mitigate the risk of an irrigation system breaking down and failing to positively impact farmers, your organisation could incorporate an activity that provides a series of workshops for local farmers to learn how to repair the equipment.
Some risks will be impossible to mitigate, especially entrenched social, cultural and political risks. This shouldn’t stop you undertaking your project, but it is important to be aware that these risks exist.
Example: LogFrame for a local community development project in Talma, rural Peru. You can use this, along with the guide above, to help complete your own LogFrame.
Having worked through the steps above, your LogFrame should now show the logic of your project approach. The use of “If-Then” statements allows you to work through your plan from the bottom up. For example, “If this activity occurs (indicator) and related assumptions hold true then this output should be achieved.” This can be done at every level, linking up to the next level to highlight the reasoning of your planning.
Now that you have completed the master framework of your project, it’s time to conduct a gender analysis in Module 9, our final module of the course, to ensure that your project supports all vulnerable groups in the community.
For more in-depth guides, you may want to look at the resources provided by the specific donor you are working with, or the resources cited in this post, which supply comprehensive guides and examples for LogFrame development.
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