Measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so. -Galileo
Broadly speaking, an outcome is the answer to this question: What do we hope will change as a result of our strategy? Measuring progress toward that outcome can take different forms, depending on both the desired outcome and the data available to us. We may be interested in monitoring changes in the population, programs, policies, or practices and evaluating the impact our work is making in one or more of those areas. Check out the Evaluating the Initiative Toolkit for some great resources and see the Know Your Community section of this website for more on data collection.
Measuring and evaluating outcomes can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s essential for a collaboration to learn about its program or initiative in order to:
- Improve the effectiveness of a strategy (design and implementation).
- Determine if the program, strategy, or system change effort is making a difference.
- Inform program, strategy, or system decisions.
- Keep the collaboration on track and accountable.
It’s also important that measuring and evaluating outcomes be an ongoing process and considered as a means for continuous quality improvement. Both the logic model and work plan are tools to keep the collaboration’s work on track, as well as a templates for capturing data (both numbers and stories) that show progress towards your desired outcomes.
There are many user-friendly methods for collaborations to measure outcomes for systems change initiatives and understand different forms of evaluation. Here are some that we recommend: