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How is an Indicator Tracking Table Diffferent from a M&E Framework?

There are so many templates these days. Indicator Tracking Table, Indicator Reference Sheet and M&E Framework are just a few. It can be confusing to distinguish among them or to know which to choose.

I will try and explain the differences in this blogpost.

What is the Indicator Tracking Table?

The Indicator Tracking Table (ITT) is a reporting tool that tracks the progress of indicators included in the programme’s M&E Plan towards programme targets.

An example of the ITT is shown below.

Indicator Tracking Table

What is a an Indicator Reference Sheet?

This document defines the terms mentioned in the indicator.

Have you ever picked up a logical framework and saw indicators that stated things like 'number of vulnerable persons with access to quality healthcare', or 'percentage of youth with improved skills'.

Technically, these indicators are ok.

However, you were not a part of the discussion when 'vulnerable persons' were defined, nor do you know what qualifies as 'quality healthcare'. Likewise, what merits being classified as an 'improved' skill? Any passing grade on a test, or only a score of 80% and higher?

Are you beginning to see how two persons reporting on the same indicators can collect different data?

For example, in one partner organisation, 'vulnerable persons' are only women and children, while for another partner organisation who is implementing the same programme, 'vulnerable persons' also mean the elderly (including men) and persons with disability.

One handy tool to assist with getting everyone on the same page, is the Indicator Reference Sheet.

It also gives the unit of measure ( e.g. number of hours, percentage of households) and details on how calculations are made (e.g. for percentages, what is the numerator and denominator times 100). It can also mention the source for the data (e.g. government ministry, census etc.), the rationale for formulating the indicator and the methods for data collection (e.g. tools, methods, and procedures for collecting raw data can be described.

The image below gives a summary of the basic or core elements of an Indicator Reference Sheet. Naturally more areas can be included in the document.

Indicator Reference Sheet

What is a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework?

A M&E framework is a table that describes the indicators, the baseline values, the targets and other aspectst that are used to measure whether the programme or intervnetion is a success.

Monitoirng and Evaluation Framework

Please click the table to view a more legible version of the M&E Framework

Hopefully you would have spotted the differences among these three templates. The ITT usually covers quarterly and yearly information and does not go into details such as the data source and responsible persons. The M&E Framework is the template that captures these additional details.

So, do you need to have all three templates?

The answer depends on your accountability requirements (e.g. what the donor insists on) and your context. I am one for streamlining processes and keeping things simple. If you are a small organisation with a straightforward project that is only implemented for 1 year, then perhaps only a M&E Framework will suffice. You would not need an indicator reference sheet as chances are, only one person is undertaking all the M&E activities and know the definitions for the indicators.

However, if you have a regional 5 year programme that is implemented in several countries, with several implementing partners, then I would advise having all three templates to ensure clarity among everyone.


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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

Monitoring, Evaluation and
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