Written by Korapin Tohtubtiang - ILRI, Bangkok
What is Outcome Mapping?
Outcome Mapping (OM) is a participatory planning, monitoring, and evaluation (PME) tool developed by International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC).
The tool is considered an alternative to the conventional logical framework widely used by various development projects. The Log frame approach - plans, monitors, and evaluates a project using a set of performance indicators, which are preliminarily decided upon by project staff and/or donors. Alternatively - OM values a participatory approach at its essence; with project staff and Boundary Partners// (BP) identifying their indicators collaboratively. Such indicators or Progress Markers are underlined by the core concept of OM, which believes in ‘changes’ as a project’s outcomes.
BP, as suggested by its name, is whom a project interacts directly with, and whose positive changes contribute to the impact of the project. Changes do not entail only those at a personal level (e.g. behavior, attitudes, perspectives, practices, etc.), but also at the organizational, and institutional level (e.g. policy, regulations, rules etc.). OM offers a practical solution to utilize the project’s limited resources in creating achievable outcomes.
OM values learning as inherent to monitoring and evaluation. Hence using OM, and its systematic documentation will lead to organizational learning and adaptive management.
FAQs: EcoZD’s Application of OM
Why OM for EcoZD?
The EcoZD project, ‘Ecosystem Approaches to the Better Management of Zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases in SE Asia’ works with 6 country teams and 2 EcoHealth resources centres. The expected outcomes of the project are to build capacity of personnel who involves in the management of ZEID through the application of EcoHealth concepts.
With the three main pillars of EcoHealth being transdiciplinarity, participation, and equity - OM which champions participation - perfectly compliments the practices of the EcoHealth concept. Once participation is reinforced, equity, a closely linked characteristic, is naturally strengthened. The application of OM serves as a means of encouraging greater transdiciplinary collaboration within country teams, whilst emphasizing partnership building with Boundary Partners.
To capture both the outcomes in regards to an EcoHealth uptake, as well as any capacity development in the teams - the EcoZD project requires an appropriate and flexible M&E tool. A tool which allows project staff, and country team members to understand gradual changes, whilst collectively learning and adapting. Thankfully - OM and its associated framework responds very well to such needs.
How do we implement OM?
Outcome Mapping is planned, and implemented in two layers.
Layer 1: this is the interaction between ILRI (project coordinators) and the EcoZD national teams. This layer will focus on capturing the EcoHealth uptake of the teams.
Layer 2: this layer focuses on partnership building between the EcoZD national teams, and their selected Boundary Partners (BP's). It will focus on how teams practice EcoHealth concepts - through dissemination of their research findings and the implementation of relevant activities with the BP's.
For both layers, Focus Group Discussions (FGD) is the main practice in understanding the changes and progress of BP's towards the achievement of collaboratively identified goals. This process clearly encourages dialogue between the two groups of actors, in a way where they can learn from each other. Learning will be beneficial for both parties in improving their strategies.
Apart from FGD with BP's, regular internal meetings in which national-team members share lessons learned, and systematically document such information are also crucial. Self-reflection and learning are an integral part of OM.
Outputs VS Outcomes of Outcome Mapping
Implementation of Outcome Mapping (OM) entails the act of journal keeping following both - focus group discussions with Boundary Partner's, and teams’ internal meetings. There are three information areas to monitor and record:
- Changes of BP's
- Strategies of teams in working with BP's
- Practices or self-reflection of teams.
Hence two journals are to be systematically documented by OM focal points from each team.
So to clarify, the Outputs of the OM process for EcoZD teams are - the outcome journal, and the performance journal.
Outcome Journal This journal is recorded after each focus group discussion with BP's, and documents gradual changes of BP's as guided by the previously collaboratively identified Progress Markers. Strategies and activities in regards to how the teams interact with BP's in the focus group discussion setting are also recorded in this journal.
Performance Journal This journal is concerned with documenting information regarding Organizational Practices as seen/discussed through the team's internal meetings. If this journal is integrated effectively into the national-teams' management practices, the result will be seen in a strengthening of the teams effectiveness, efficiency and relevance.
Outcome Mapping not only provides the guidelines for effective monitoring and evaluation, but the process also facilitates three forms of outcomes:
- Partnership building between ILRI and national-teams, as well as between the teams and their boundary partners. This initiative involves knowledge sharing, leading to the hopeful capacity building of all actors.
- A significant learning process for all actors through means of a participatory approach, as well as focus group discussions, and self-reflection.
- Understanding of the teams’ EcoHealth uptake, valuable lessons learned for ILRI and other EcoHealth projects.
Want to learn more about OM?
For further materials of OM, please visit www.outcomemapping.ca.
For enquiries on EcoZD’s implementation of OM, feel free to contact EcoZD Outcome Mapping Coordinator - [Korapin Tohtubtiang].