There are several different definitions, formats, templates and structures for project logical frameworks available in the main project management methodologies. If you google “logical framework” then you will probably get lost in the hundreds different models.
According to PMDPro, the logical framework is an analytical tool used to plan, monitor and evaluate projects. It derives its name from the logical linkages set out by the planner(s) to connect a project’s means with its ends.
It is intended to serve as:
- A systematic tool for organizing the project thinking and identifying relationships between resources, activities, and project results;
- A visual way of presenting and sharing the project intervention logic;
- A tool to identify and assess risks inherent in the proposed project design;
- A tool for measuring progress through indicators and means of verification.
So, let´s agree that it is a friendly tool that is capable of demonstrating the project main logic and dependencies in one matrix. It´s a friend… but, let´s meet its many faces.
There are a number of variations of logical framework models that are used in the development sector. Many of these models use different terms to identify the project deliverables. Some identify goals and objectives, others identify Results and Outcomes. Similarly, there is no consensus on the number of levels in a logical framework matrix. Some organizations subscribe to a four-level matrix, others have five.
PMDPro model is based on a four-level matrix, which terms are:
- Activities are actions taken through which inputs (financial, human, technical, material and time resources) are mobilized to produce the deliverables (training, constructing, etc.) of a project for which staff can be held accountable and which, when aggregated, produce outputs.
- Outputs are tangible deliverables resulting from project activities. They include products, goods, services and changes (e.g. people trained with increased knowledge and skill; quality roads built) that aggregate and contribute to outcomes.
- Outcomes are what the project expects to accomplish at the beneficiary level (e.g. use of knowledge and skills in actual practice over time; transportation of goods on constructed roads over time) and contribute to population-level changes (reduced malnutrition, improved incomes, improved yields, etc.) that aggregate and help bring about accomplishment of goals and impact over time.
- Goals are the highest level desired end results or impacts (transformation, sustainability, livelihood, well-being etc.) to which the project contributes (the ultimate objective in many logical frameworks).
Consider that, besides several variations in the terms, there is also a probably confusion when working with different languages. Some terms, when translated, might increase the misunderstanding between levels. The following example shows how the terms are translated from Portuguese to English, Spanish and French.
How to avoid the misunderstanding and confusing project designs?
The solution is to adopt one model or template for your organization. All projects would be designed using the same structure and terms. When applying for a call or communicating with a donor that has its own model, then you can “translate” the Logical Framework. The following example show how ChildFund has translated the PMDPro into their own terms, in Portuguese, English and Spanish.
The advantage is that all projects’ documentation (Logical Frameworks) at your organization would have the same structure. That creates a common language within the project teams and enable them to apply / communicate with several different donors and partners easily translating to its models.
You will find an example of the Logical Framework Terminology “dictionary” in the link below. Please send us any suggestion of new models or formats to be included in this tool.
Remark: it is important to highlight that the Logical Framework must be developed after a proper identification of the community needs. We recommend reading the PMDPro guide to verify the steps required prior to the Logical Framework development.
Very helpful readings and links for reference; your effort of developing project maanagement knowledge and skils is highly appreciated.