Plan Step Three

PLAN - Step 3: Pin Down Your Plan of Action

If you have completed the first two steps you will have developed a Theory of Change (Plan: Step 1) and described the assumptions and attributes (Plan: Step 2) that form the basis of your outcomes chain. You should now be in a good position to put together an action plan (sometimes called a Theory of Action) to make your Theory of Change happen.  This will help you identify and describe what resources your programme needs to invest, the actions that are needed and outputs required to bring the envisioned change about.  If you are developing an evaluation plan for an existing programme this might be an interesting gap analysis that should not take long to complete.    

“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.”

Chinese proverb

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Monitoring & Evaluation Examples

Log Frame for the New Beginnings Development Centre

We are elaborating on the case study for the New Beginnings Development Centre which we provided for Plan: Step 1 and Plan: Step 2.  Having the following documents open while reading will be useful:

Option 1: Table

It was fairly easy to prepare the log frame for New Beginnings. This is because of the time spent thinking and analysing when the outcomes were prepared as part of the Theory of Change. We started by inserting the impact and the long term outcomes. Filling out the short term outcomes, outputs and activity columns was most time consuming as they relate closely to each other and had to be done simultaneously. Some of the outcomes included in the outcomes chain were expressed as outputs (products of activities) in the log frame.  It is very useful to identify or name outputs because they can easily be measured (counted). You will normally monitor outputs on a regular basis to assess and illustrate your implementation progress. We were a bit limited by the structure of the log frame table as some activities and outputs contributed to the same outcomes and we chose to show this. If we had not, it would indicate that the activity or output was only relevant to one outcome. To solve this, we inserted a small, merged column between the outcomes and outputs and outputs and activities columns.  Lastly, we identified the main inputs required to implement the activities.  Organisations can probably make extensive lists of all the little things that go into running their programmes, but we tried to stick to the major costs for simplicity sake. 

Option 2: Diagram

The diagram required more time and technical ability in Microsoft Word to create.  Take a look at the online software solutions, accessible in the toolbox section of this step to assist you. The major advantage of the diagram is that you can clearly indicate which activities result in which outputs and which outputs lead to the achievement of which outcomes. Essentially, it is a Theory of Change and activity plan in one.  This is great for simple programmes like New Beginnings. However, the more complex your programme, the more complicated your diagram will be. When it becomes a real task to figure out what is going on in it, it might be best to prepare a log frame table and to keep your Theory of Change (outcomes chain) separate. One thing that is clear - a log frame table might be useful to summarise all the components of your programme, but on its own is not sufficient to explain how the programme works.  It is well complemented by a Theory of Change/outcomes chain.