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LOGICAL FRAMEWORK

LOGICAL FRAMEWORK

The Logical Framework (LF) is a tool used in the development sector to manage and monitor the implementation of project cycles.

The Logical Framework Approach is a technique for planning and representing a project cycle based on the Logical Framework matrix.

Non-profits use this process while applying for funding for a large-scale, two to three year span grant from a grant-making or funding organisation.

Uses of LF

The use of LF methodologies traces its roots to the military who organised operations efficiently with this tool. Later, businesses adopted the framework to strategically organise and manage internal targets. LF moved over to the social sector when multilateral organisations like the Department for International Development (D.F.I.D) and the United States Agency for International Development (U.S.A.I.D) began using it. It is now established as a norm for grant-making purposes across the world.

The LF works as a planning and accountability measure:

  • It serves the purpose of enabling a recipient organisation to plan their field activities in an objective-driven manner
  • It gives donor organisations a trajectory as well as a series of quantifiable measures to monitor progress.

In a survey of 18 international NGOs, Oliver Bakewell and Anne Garbutt found that "although using the LFA (Logical Framework Approach) is theoretically a way of planning interventions and monitoring and evaluating their progress, in practice in most cases the LFA is only explicitly used at the planning stage".

The Logical Framework in brief

The Logical Framework is a four-by-four grid that maps variables of a planning and outcome process on two axes. It is a step by step process that defines the scope of the project to be taken up. Each aspect of the framework relates to the one that follows it, so each variable and the framework are based on interlinkages.

The vertical axis relates to internal matters of the project planning process.

The variables on the vertical quadrant axis are the goal, purposes, outputs of the process and activities for achieving those outputs. They are to be plotted from top to bottom.

 The horizontal axis deals with external factors outside the organisation’s control.

The variables on the horizontal axis relate to summaries, indicators, verifications and assumptions in the project cycle.

Here is an indicative sample of the Logical Framework:

Summary

Verifiable Indicators

Means of Verification

Assumptions

Goal

 

 

 

Purpose

 

 

 

Output

 

 

 

Activities

 

 

 

 

Efficiency of the Logical Framework Analysis method

The Logical Framework is a simple but strong planning tool that enables an organisation to project activities to meet future goals, thereby working to achieve goals from the start. Each level of the process has an ‘if-then’ or cause-effect relationship built into it, ensuring that goals are not set without sufficient activities to support them. Verifiable indicators require an organisation to anticipate foreseeable and unforeseeable issues during the planning process instead of scrambling to deal with them when an unexpected issue is faced.

Historically, development work tended to be issue based; organisations addressed the most visible aspects of the issue that they were working on. Typically, organisations would not work in a planned way but develop an approach along the way depending on the attributes of the concerned issue.

Case: An NGO looking to improve literacy rates in first-generation learners might attempt several alternatives to increase school enrolment:

  • Help children with after school classes
  • Create teacher training material
  • Involve themselves with whichever aspect of the education system in the area they thought needed most work.

As they progressed, they might realise that increased enrolment rates were offset by high dropout rates or low performance on school tests. At this point they might find it necessary to design a voucher system for financially poor students or to supply reading material to take home. Using a LF from the beginning would reduce this manner of trial and error in the process. The NGO would prioritize its goals based on a projection for the future. It would not only save them time, but also enable fund allocation to the most necessary areas. Their evolution to serve people’s needs would therefore be much smoother.

Additionally, the LF:

  • makes an organisation’s goals more communicable and easy to share across local, national and international bodies
  • is useful when transnational bodies are involved as funders or partner organisations
  • adds value when projects are large in scale and impact several lives
  • keeps development work on track specially when NGOs have underdeveloped skills in planning and management.
  • Critique of the Logical Framework Analysis method

    Alnoor Ebrahim and V. Kasturi Rangan have pointed out the inefficiencies of this method in measuring change. They suggest that this method might show strong results when it comes to emergency relief measures, where the work is easily quantifiable – distributing blankets, medicines or food supplies. It is harder to measure outcome especially when factors of social change are largely outside the organisation’s control. This is true with regard to organisations doing policy-advocacy and rights based work. It doesn’t answer questions like - how to measure disruption? How do you attach a deliverable to something that doesn’t exist today? Large scale structural change cannot be accomplished in a five-year project cycle, and it cannot necessarily be mapped on such a system. They fear this will lead to a situation where only organisations that do easily measurable work in areas like healthcare or disaster relief will be able to attract funding at the cost of organisations working in less tangible areas.

    In recent years there has been a growing critique of the format of the approach and the restrictions it puts on implementing agencies. It focuses less on the implementing organisation’s vision and more on the funding agency’s one, which becomes problematic when the two are in separate countries or lack a common understanding of the problem. Grant receiving organisations feel compelled to state objectives to fulfil the funder’s requirement instead of articulating their own objectives.

    Sheela Patel, founder of SPARK, Mumbai offers a conceptual critique when she writes about how a process like the Logical Framework makes it difficult for organisations seeking to implement radical change, challenge systems or take risks to achieve results. She refers to the dominance of the ‘log-frame virus’, stating that “As a result of this mind-set, we now have to pretend that, in a period of two years, we can implement perfect strategies and produce complete solutions. Equitable solutions take trial, error and time.

    Conclusion

    The debate about the effectiveness of measurement systems as opposed to their restrictiveness rages on. P.N. Dearden emphasised the shift to making the LF a more participatory exercise and found that later adopters of the LF found that the “LFA provided a useful set of design tools that can, when used creatively and in a

    participatory manner, be used for planning, designing, implementing and evaluating projects and programmes”. Meanwhile, smaller funding organisations that are NGO-focused rather than donor-focused may be more flexible in the demands they make of NGOs.

    The current consensus is that the strength of the approach is in how it is used, rather than how well it is presented. Criteria that is too rigid can choke a project, and too many loose-ended objectives will inhibit funding from benefiting those who are in need of it. The Logical Framework can be a tool or a weapon, depending on the purpose for which it is being used.
     

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