Logical Framework: A Project Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Tool

By Anthony M. Wanjohi:

The Logical Framework is a project management tool which is used to facilitate the process of planning, monitoring and evaluation.  It helps to structure discussions and gives a clearer view of what is under discussion before and during the project planning; helps in understanding the purpose of the project, the strategy to achieve it and the means deployed and used as a point of reference during monitoring and evaluation, to analyze the project’s impact.

This article briefly provides an overview of Logical Framework as a project planning, monitoring and evaluation tool. The article covers the following aspects: An Overview of Logical Framework Format, Core Components of Logical Framework, and Strengths and Limitations of Logical Framework.

An Overview of Logical Framework Format
Logical Framework format, commonly presented as a matrix, is comprised of a number of aspects including general objectives (goal), project purpose or objective, project outputs, Objectively Verifiable Indicators and Assumptions. The following matrix illustrates a typical Logical Framework Matrix Format.

Table 1: Logical Framework Matrix Format

Narrative Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs) Means of Verification (MOVs) Assumptions (Risks)
 General Objective (Goal)
 Purpose/ Objective
 Outputs
 Activities  Inputs

Core Components of Logical Framework
Goal
This is the general objective of the project. The objective goal specifies the benefits, which the beneficiaries will enjoy as a result of the project.

Purpose/Objectives
The purpose expresses the action that the target group will take in order to bring about the desired change.  The Project Purpose often describes a change in the target group’s behaviour, resulting from its use of the services or products provided by the project.

Outputs (expected results)
These are the goods/services/products, which the project makes available to the target group. These are the expected results of the project.

Activities
They are all the steps, which the project takes to provide the various goods, services and products.

Inputs
These are physical and non-physical inputs that facilitate implementation of a project. They also include human resources and virtual aspects such as opportunity, demand and access etc. They also include time and financial resources.

Establishing means and costs: work out human, material and financial means necessary to carry out the planned activities under each result; work out human, material and financial means needed for management and support activities not included in the log-frame; calculate the cost of resources thus established and shared among the financing partners and prepare the total budget.

Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs)
These are statements used to depict what shall indicate accomplished purpose, objectives and results. OVIs should be SMART and are neither positive nor negative. They help in measuring, observing and counting and are used in monitoring and evaluating the project.

Defining OVIs:

  • Specify for each result the project purpose and overall objectives that is; the quantity (how much); the quality (what); the target group (who); the time period (starting when and for how long; the place (where). Note that  indicators concerning the overall objectives tend to be more qualitative than those applicable to the project purpose and the output, which have quantitatively measurable components.
  • Check whether the indicators describe the overall objective, purpose or results accurately. If not, other indicators should be added or new ones found,
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the OVIs for the project purpose –‘the projects, centre of gravity’ do in practice incorporate the notion of sustainable benefits for the target group.

Means of Verification (MOVs)
These are tangible entities that provide needed information where OVIs are to be found. They help to provide evidence of the existence of OVIs.

How to identify MOVs:

  • Decide sources of verification are needed to obtain the information on OVIs;
  • Identify which sources are to be collected, processed and kept within the project and which outside (existing sources);
  • Check sources outside the project to ensure that; their form/presentation is appropriate; they are specific enough; they are reliable; they are accessible (where and when); the cost of obtaining the information is reasonable.

Assumptions (Risks)
These are conditions that exist beyond the real of control in a project. The conditions threaten the potential for achieving the project purpose.

Identification of Assumptions

  1. Identify in the hierarchy of objectives-those not covered by the objective tree, by the selected strategy but are important for the success of the object: i) Place them as external factors at the appropriate level of the log-frame; ii) Identify other external factors not included in the hierarchy, which must be fulfilled to achieve the overall objective, project purpose and the results and iii)  Identify necessary pre-conditions, which have to be met in order to start with project activities.
  2. Assess the importance of the external factors by using the assessment chart depending on the conclusions; take out the external factor (almost certainly); include the external factor as an assumption (likely); Redesign the projec;
  3. Check the interventions logic and assumptions on completeness beginning with the pre-conditions to see whether the intervention logic is indeed logical and overlooks nothing.
    Identifying Pre-conditions: conditions which affect the project but which the project management cannot control;
  4. NOTE: ‘Killer assumptions’- A risk that has a high likelihood of occurring and stops the project in its tracks. When a killer assumption is identified during the planning process it is time to go to the drawing board and rethink the project.

Strengths and Limitations of Logical Framework

Strengths

  1. Establishing the practical limits of project management responsibility.
  2. Identifying the project planning assumptions in explicit and operational terms.
  3. Permitting a clearer separation between manageable interests and those factors, which appear to be beyond control of the project management team.
  4. Providing both initial goals and final results.
  5. Helping in evaluating a project. By explicitly identifying how the project is to be evaluated, the decision-makers can be realistic estimates of project outcomes and can identify problems, which might be encountered.

Limitations

  1. It assumes a linear causal sequence, which is an unlikely simplification of the relationship among various project components and elements in the environment.
  2. It gives no guidance on equitable income distribution, employment opportunities, access to resources, popular participation in decision-making, proven strategies and techniques, cost and feasibility of replication and assumption.

Conclusion
The Logical Framework does not replace participatory work with communities. it is simply a way of describing a project once all discussions and planning have taken place and can help with planning because it encourages thinking through aspects of the project. Logical Framework is not cast in stone. It is a planning and monitoring tool to help us think through all components of a project to ensure no key issues have been left out.

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