Updated: Jun 3
Lonely output seeks an indicator to satisfy
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) needs
I am a young output in a development programme who is in search of an indicator to be my partner throughout the life of the intervention.
The indicator that I am looking for is a "quantitative or qualitative variable that provide a simple and reliable means to measure achievement, to reflect the changes connected to an intervention, or to help assess the performance of an organization against the stated outcome." Ten Steps to a Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation System. A Handbook for Development Practitioners, The World Bank 2004
The indicator should possess the following qualities. You should be S.M.A.R.T and you should actually C.A.R.E about me as an output. Let me spell out what I mean by this.
S - Specific: As an indicator, you should only measure the aspect of the programme that you are intended to measure. That is, you and I should be exclusive. You should only measure me and not the other outcomes and impact of my programme. I hope I don't come across as being too jealous, I just have high standards and expectations from indicators.
M - Measurable: You have the capacity to be counted, observed, analyzed and tested. If you cannot be measured, then progress cannot be determined. How will others know what has been achieved? Once you are clear and specific, then you can be measured in numerous ways; almost any indicator is in one way or another measurable.
A – Achievable and Attributable: By achievable I mean that as an indicator, the required data and information that is needed for you, can actually be collected. By being Attributable, any changes you measure must be attributable to my programme’s intervention.
R- Realistic: The indicator for me should be realistic. It should be possible to measure you using available tools and methods. Some indicators (from my past experiences), present major problems for data collection owing to the cost or skills required (e.g. anthropometric surveys,large-scale sample surveys).
T- Time bound: As an indicator I am expecting you to have a time frame in mind for our partnership. I am not expecting you to commit right away, but you should state when you, as an indicator will be measured. If there is no time included on when measurement will take place, how will anyone know if and when there is a result/outcome?
When I said you should CARE, I meant:
C - Comparable: As an indicator, you should use comparable units and denominators that will enable an increased understanding of impact or effectiveness across different population groups or programme approaches.
A - Aggregation: The data that you generate as an indicator should be able to be added. This will give a bigger picture of what is happening and will also make it easier to make comparisons. With that said, you should also be able to be disaggregated. In other word, as an indicator you should be able to broken down into gender, sex, age, ethnic origin, social condition etc. I am telling you from now this disaggregation may be politically sensitive and controversial at times.
R - Reliable: It goes without saying that I am expecting you to be an indicator who is reliable. You should produce the same results consistently over time, regardless of the researcher or participant.
E - Easy to Understand: As an indicator you should be clear and easy to understand to almost everyone implementing, monitoring or benefiting from my social programme.
Ideally, as an indicator, I will find you more attractive if you are accompanied by baselines, targets and achievements.
Baselines establish the value of the indicator at the beginning of the planning period;
Targets describe expected values upon completion of the plan;
Performance monitoring of the indicator tells us about actual achievement, against the original target.
Just so we are on the same page, I will be using the list below to help me select a potential partner.
Are you the indicator of my dreams, the one this output has been waiting for? If you possess the above desirable indicator traits, then contact me now. xoxo
Please note that indicators should also be developed for the different result areas of the programme such as the inputs, activities, outcomes and goals/impact and not just for outputs. There are also different types of indicators such as quantitative, qualitative, proxy, binary and composite indicators.
Feel free to add other desirable traits of the 'dream indicator' in the Comments section below.
A few indicators responded to the Output's ad. See an overview of these indicators here.
Publications consulted for this article: