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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

Creating new monitoring tools means creating new monitoring culture

A shift from monitoring outcomes rather than outputs means that the team needs to start thinking about development and development results differently

Author: Jeph Mathias

Published: Sunday 7 September 2014

Output to Outcome needs a paradigm shift in team culture from Outcome Mapping on Vimeo.

Outcome Mapping is a totally different way of thinking for MGVS. Suddenly we are trying to focus on behaviour change of boundary partners rather than immediate and tangible outputs or products, like we have been trained to do throughout our whole professional career by log frame focused funders.  But Outcome Mapping helps us to think about our boundary partners and gain a deep understanding of change – their change as development actors, and the change in their context that they are trying to contribute to. We also need to understand our role as a development project in such a complex context; we should expect surprise and be ready to gather and learn from any outcome (change in behaviour), not just those we listed as progress markers. In using Outcome Mapping with the team, I aimed to:

  • Create a new culture in the team so they think about, look for, record and talk about boundary partner behaviour change.
  • Maintain relationships with boundary partners that are positive and continually getting deeper (in an Indian context, this means consistency in terms of who any particular boundary partner relates to).
  • Create an easy to use, manageable system which a team with different levels of schooling understands, to capture all boundary partners’ outcomes (not just the progress markers we have written but also surprising new behaviours that emerge) and a way to record and store this.
  • Capture and benefit from all the lessons the context is continually throwing at us.


What we did was:

  1. Select 8 Boundary Partners for a team of 8 (the initial list of important stakeholders with whom we have some influence was 19 groups. We chose the 8 most important). Each person on the team was assigned one Boundary Partner. This is to get consistency and deep relationships. So for instance, Anita is a team member and she creates relationships and provides support to disabled people & their families (one of our boundary partners). She tracks all behaviour changes in this group and co-ordinates all activities around this group. This is not to say she does all the activities. E.g. a sensitised village decides to change the steps into ramps because there are two wheel chair bound village kids. However they need help to actually do this. Anita decides a supportive strategy is required, mobilises community men to contribute labour and gets Ranvir, one of our technical staff to help design the ramp, bring in concrete and get it built. Anita records evidence of new attitudes, relationships or behaviour. 
  1. Design with the team a monitoring form, which each team member fills in for their boundary partner. Note that they will record any outcome, not just progress markers. This means we capture surprise outcomes. The form is simple, easy to use, designed with the team and records everything important. The product is little different to outcome journal but the process (designed by the team) is critical. The second page has a form for the team to record weekly activities and the final box here forces them to think about what the link between what they did for the week and the movement of their boundary partner towards their Outcome challenges. A final page will be unfilled most weeks, but if a specific progress marker is achieved they are asked to record the date and write about it. They present these forms and the results at their team meetings. 
  1. Reorganize our weekly timetable. There is one computer in the field office. Each member of the team has been given a memory stick and fills in an electronic copy of this monitoring form for their boundary partner. On Mondays in the town office before the team goes to the field for the week they all give their memory stick to our office assistant who files it under that Boundary Partner with whatever photos or documents provide evidence of the outcome. Meanwhile at the team meeting each person presents all outcomes for their Boundary Partner and the whole team together unravels why they happened and what they mean. Each team member who manages the relationship with a Boundary Partner writes a one page weekly report which is filed with their outcomes and activities in the file for that Boundary Partner for that date. This is all part of creating the culture of looking for, talking about and recording all outcomes – changes in behaviour, whether they are expected or unexpected, positive or negative.


Some things that help us with creating an outcome monitoring culture: Cameras! So that the team can take a photo of ‘new behaviour’; e.g. able bodied kids helping a disabled kid getting up stairs to school. Also: memory sticks, a field computer, computer skills training, use of Skype with our funders (this is an added stimulus, and kind of exciting for staff to get an international phone call and have to talk about outcomes with a funder.)

Key lessons:

  • Take time to understand what outcomes mean.
  • Invest in computer literacy.
  • Design monitoring tools with the team.
  • Communicate to funders about our monitoring system


Related Practitioner Guide sections:

Associated resources:

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia