The logical framework, also known as the logical framework methodology (LFM) or just Logframe, is a project management tool used in the design, planning, execution and evaluation of projects.
It was developed in 1969 by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) in response to analysis of the results of previous projects, where it was concluded that there were deficiencies and that it was necessary to create a tool to improve the results of future projects.
Subsequently, organizations and entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the German development cooperation agency (GTZ) and many governments in South America and the Caribbean adopted the logical framework approach (LFA).
Many of these adaptations generated variations of the methodology, such as the ZOPP methodology created by GTZ.
This indicates that the logical framework is mostly used in development projects at the state or governmental level. However, some private organizations and educational institutions have begun to adopt the methodology.
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The logical framework methodology is today’s topic in Ingenio Empresa. What is it, what is its importance and how is it done; is what I am going to tell you next.
Definition: What is the logical framework?
And to make it clearer, let’s look at some classic definitions:
Management tool that facilitates the planning, implementation and evaluation of a project. Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation(NORAD), 1993.
A system of procedures and instruments for objective-oriented project planning. German Agency for Development Cooperation.(GTZ), 1987.
Analytical tool for objective-oriented project planning and management. It is a method with different steps from identification to formulation and its final result should be the elaboration of a project planning matrix.Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), 1999.
And now? This is our personal definition:.
Logical Framework Methodology and Logical Framework Matrix What is the difference?
The difference is simple: The result of the methodology is the matrix .
That is, the methodology is composed of a series of steps such as problem analysis, analytical structure, project narrative, etc; as we follow the steps, we complete the logical framework matrix.
So what is the matrix for? It is a summary of the project. It sets out what the project is intended to do and how it is intended to be done, along with the assumptions it faces and how it will be monitored and evaluated. This is vital when, for example, you want to present the essence of the project to a potential investor.
How to do a project with the Logical Framework Methodology: Step-by-step example
Some follow the logical framework approach in 7 steps, others do it in 15. We are going to do it in 10 steps and the result will be a completely filled out matrix.
The “how to” of each step will be deepened in a separate post. That is, there will be a post for each step. There I will show you the activities and tasks for “that” step of the methodology.
With that clear, we begin.
Example Case: Project with Logical Framework Methodology
Let me put you in context: Colusa Inc. is a company that provides web hosting services. For some time now (6 months to be more exact) it has been presenting a higher number of complaints and claims from its customers. This situation has impacted the company’s finances and threatens to further reduce its customer base.
In addition, Colusa Inc. has been left with an obsolete technological infrastructure, while its competitors (of which there are many) have upgraded their services or are in the process of doing so.
In other words, Colusa has realized that it is not keeping up with market trends and this is impacting service delivery. And if that were not enough, the company has been experiencing massive employee resignations.
With this in mind, they propose to address this problematic situation with a project under the logical framework methodology.
Step 1: Stakeholder analysis
In the stakeholder analysis we identify the stakeholder groups that are touched by the project, either directly or indirectly. Not only do we define who they are, but we also think about their interests, expectations and needs in order to define intervention strategies that allow us to have their support or to propose actions against their opposition.
The result of the stakeholder analysis for colusa is as follows:
The following strategies were defined:
How did we do it? Click here: Example of Stakeholder Analysis
Step 2: The problem tree
While we already know that there is a problem situation in Colusa, we have not yet characterized it. Much of what was mentioned above may be caused by a root problem, or what appears to be a problem may actually be a consequence of another, larger cause.
To get clarity on the problem situation, we will use the problem tree. With this tool, we will be able to represent the problem situation by locating its causes in the roots, the central conflict in the trunk and the effects in the leaves.
Transferring Colusa’s situation to the tree, the result is as follows:
The detailed step-by-step is available here: Example of problem tree.
Step 3: The objectives tree
In the also known solution tree, causes become means and leaves become ends. We move from a current negative state to a desired positive state, which means that the central problem of the project changes to the central purpose.
Following our case study, Colusa’s objective tree is:
You can find the how here: Example of objective tree.
Step 4: Analysis of alternatives
With the analysis of alternatives we stop dreaming and start taking action. How are we going to change the situation shown in the problem tree to what we want in the objective tree?
We do it with this analysis. In it, we identify the alternatives or set of means that can mean strategies to solve the problematic situation.
What we do in this analysis is to take the means of the objective tree and define actions that will allow me to reach that means. Subsequently we define and apply the criteria we believe relevant according to the nature of the problem (e.g. cost vs. benefit or social impact) to filter and leave only those optimal alternatives with which we will work in the following steps.
The strategies are the following and the way it was done is here: Example analysis of alternatives.
Staff training in computer, hosting and domain knowledge: Training programs will be carried out on new trends and technologies in these areas.
Elaborate mystery shopping sessions with after-sales service personnel: Calls made from the company where the customer is acting as a customer to evaluate the quality of technical support.
Implementation of support evaluation mechanisms at the end of the call and by e-mail sent to the customer: Implement telephone and e-mail surveys consisting of a question such as “rate the technical service from 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest”.
Provide training to technical support staff: Customer service training.
Negotiation with CMS providers to provide the customer with quick and easy installation: WordPress and Joomla will be negotiated.
Implementation of Zapp: The book will be acquired and delivered to the company’s management.
Step 5: Analytical project structure
Next, in this step we take the work of the problem and objective tree together with the analysis of alternatives to outline the relationship of the strategy or optimal alternative with the objectives and actions.
In the analytical project structure or APS, we begin to build the hierarchical level relationship that is addressed in the logical framework matrix. The organization of the levels in the APSis as follows:
- First level: Activities
- Second level: Outputs
- Third level: Purpose
- Fourth level: Goal
And starting from the fourth level, the goal of the project is extracted from the top of the objective tree. The purpose is the central objective of the objective tree. The outputs are the result of having executed the strategies or alternatives of the alternatives analysis. Finally, for the first level we define the most relevant activities to execute the strategies and deliver the outputs.
The result of this exercise is as follows:
Any doubts? Check the step-by-step here: Example of project analytical structure.
Step 6: Project Narrative
It is in step 6 where we begin to create the logical framework matrix. The project narrative is the first column of step 6. It is nothing more than the arrangement of the levels of the analytical project structure on the logical framework matrix. In other words, each level of the structure is a row of the logframe matrix.
Goal, purpose, outputs and activities are the rows of the logical framework matrix.
- The goal is a medium- or long-term impact. It represents the contribution that is achieved by having the project completed. It may be composed of one or more elements.
- The purpose is the central objective of the project and there should be only one. The project is culminated once the goal is achieved, and it is achieved when the outputs are completed.
- The outputs or products are the deliverables (goods, services, tangible products) of the project. They are the result of having the activities completed.
- The activities are the “to do” necessary to deliver the project outputs.
To go deeper into this step, click here: Project Narrative Example.
The project narrative in our example is as follows:
Step 7: Objectively Verifiable Indicators
In the second column of the logframe matrix, we define how we will know the progress of the project, either current or final progress. We create indicators to measure everything in the project narrative.
What is important in this step? We can summarize it in two steps:
- All project stakeholders must be aware of them.
- They must be practical, independent and focused.
- There must be indicators to determine to what extent the objectives are achieved but also to monitor progress in the project timelines.
- More information: Example of indicators in the logical framework
To complete: Example of indicators in Logical Frame Matrix
With this step done, our logical framework matrix looks as follows:
Step 8: Means of verification
To know the status of the project, it is not enough to define the indicators; where and how are we going to obtain the data and information for measurement? The answer is part of the third column of the logframe matrix.
With the sources or means of verification we evaluate and monitor the indicators, defining the following aspects:
- Source of information
- Method of collection
- Responsible for collection
- Method of analysis
To go deeper: Example of means of verification in logical framework.
With the third column ready, this is our logical framework matrix:
Step 9: Assumptions
Assumptions are all those conditions or factors that we consider to be true but that are not controllable by the project team and that, in the event that they are not met, affect the results.
What can go wrong? Anything that can lead to an assumption not being met, consider it a risk. Therefore, in this step we try to ensure that the assumptions are met, so we identify everything that can go wrong before starting a project item or during its execution. By item I mean element of the project narrative (goal, purpose, outputs and activities).
This is how we did it in our case: Example of assumptions in logical framework.
And this is what we got, the complete logical framework matrix.
Step 10: Project Monitoring and Evaluation
Sometimes not everything goes as planned. It may happen that projects may have unforeseen events or delays or that things are not being done as they should be done. For this reason it is necessary to monitor and evaluate. In doing so, we seek to narrow the gap between actual and planned.
However, the two terms are different.
With monitoring we control the progress of the project and we do it only in the execution phase. Aspects such as costs, physical progress and compliance with deadlines are subject to verification. We must also inform those involved about the results of the monitoring and take the pertinent actions to ensure the continuity and success of the project.
Thus, in monitoring we identify to what extent:
- Activities are being performed on time and at the lowest cost – Efficiency.
- The outputs are being produced and whether the purpose is being achieved – Effectiveness
To take actions to correct the path of the project. That with respect to monitoring or follow-up.
Project evaluation means to put a point on the path and think:
Is the project working?
This simple question must be answered considering a vision of the project as a whole and not as something specific. For the specifics there is monitoring, in the evaluation we reflect on what has been done so far and the results obtained, which leads us to obtain high-level conclusions.
Is the project working, this question is asked throughout the project cycle (and beyond) but at defined moments. For example, in a project with an estimated duration of 3 years, we can make an annual evaluation while the project is ongoing. Once the project is completed and if applicable, we can do subsequent evaluations every 2 years to determine its impact. The result of an evaluation translates into very significant lessons learned for the ongoing project or similar and future projects.
The vertical logic is a sample of the validity of the project design. With it, we manage to analyze the causal links that exist between each of the levels of the column of objectives. In it, we consider that the project design or planning is valid when:
- The outputs are the result of having the activities done.
- Each activity is necessary to achieve the outputs. There is no need for activities and there are no extra activities.
- Once the outputs are obtained, the project is achieved.
- Once the achievement of the project is achieved, there is a contribution to the achievement of the goal.
Some software used in country development projects takes the project formulator step by step, but when an incongruence is detected in the vertical logic of the project, it does not allow him to advance any further and forces him to rethink his formulation.
We already explained this concept in the previous steps but without mentioning its real name, horizontal logic. It is probably not new to you if you have read the whole post.
The “objectives – indicators – means of verification”, so in that order, are called horizontal logic. The reason is the following:
- The means of verification must be sufficient to achieve the calculation of the indicators.
- The calculation of the indicators evidences the actual and final progress in the achievement of the objectives.
This and all the articles on the logframe methodology were based on the following sources:
A very complete work, both from the theoretical and practical aspects. They offer a methodological guideline where they show with examples everything exposed.
Ortegon, E., Pacheco, J. F., & Prieto, A. (2005). Metodología del marco lógico para la planificación, el seguimiento y la evaluación de proyectos y programas. Santiago de Chile: CEPAL. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/5607/S057518_es.pdf
Exposes in detail each of the phases of the logical framework, but its real value is in that it provides 10 examples of the application of the methodology in real problems.
Camacho, H., Camara, L., Cascante, R., Sainz, Héctor. (2001) El Enfoque del marco lógico: 10 casos prácticos. Madrid. Cideal. Retrieved September 05, 2017 from http://www.olacefs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/DOC_27_8_2013_Enfoque_Marco_Logico_EML_10_casos.pdf
The following source exposes all the concepts in a graphic or schematic way, very useful if you want to take it as a reference to prepare your own explanation. It does not stop to explain everything as detailed as the previous one, instead it allows you to take immediate action on what to do when you approach a project through the logical framework approach.
Navaja Gómez, P. (n.d.). El enfoque de marco lógico. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://www.leganes.org/portal/RecursosWeb/DOCUMENTOS/1/0_32596_1.pdf
And if what you want is a summary that gives you an overview of the steps that make up the elaboration of the logical framework matrix, this one will be perfect for you.
Guía para formulación de proyectos bajo la metodología Marco Lógico. Technova. Retrieved September 05, 2017 from http://www.tecnnova.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cartilla-Resumen-Marco-L%C3%B3gico-para-Formulaci%C3%B3n-de-Proyectos-CEPAL-2011.pdf
The header image of the post is from: Freepik