‘Logical Framework’, or ‘logframe’, describes both a general approach to project or programme planning, monitoring and evaluation, and – in the form of a ‘logframe matrix’ – a discrete planning and monitoring tool for projects and programmes. Logframe matrices are developed during project/programme design and appraisal stages, and are subsequently updated throughout implementation while remaining an essential resource for ex-post evaluation.
As a methodology, the ‘Logical Framework Approach’ (LFA) is a systematic, visual approach to designing, executing and assessing projects which encourages users to consider the relationships between available resources, planned activities, and desired changes or results. At its core is a theory of change management which presents the logical flow of causal outcomes between achievement of a project/programme’s activity targets, and the delivery of intended results. Logframes, to this end, enable planners to establish a hierarchy of objective or result statements – i.e. a development pathway – which articulate their best understanding of how change can be achieved.
A logframe matrix (often simply called the ‘logframe’) serves to translate this broader LFA theory into action, and as a document forms the basis of an actionable work plan to guide implementation through the project/programme lifecycle. Logframe matrices assist directly in establishing the development pathway by which objectives will be reached, identifying the potential risks to achieving the objectives, establishing how outputs and outcomes might best be monitored and evaluated, presenting a summary of the activity in a standard format, and suggesting M&E activities during implementation.
A wide range of logframe formats exist, varying between donors and organisations - as such, there is no standardised template (Levine, 2007:Annex 1). A generic logframe matrix is typically one formed around a 4 x 4 table. At minimum, four central categories, arranged horizontally by column, or vertically by rows, contain information on the project/programme’s Goal, Purpose, Activities, and Output.
Each of these central components are, in turn, accompanied by at least four rows (if arranged vertically) or columns (if horizontally) displaying the following supporting information:
Example of two basic logframes (Levine, 2007):
While an integral option within international development, LFA has also generated specific criticisms, most notably for a perceived rigidity in its approach as well as for its potential incompatibility with participatory assessments (wherein the priorities of vulnerable groups can often be overlooked by the external actors or local elites who take part in the logframe construction). In response, multiple variations on the core LFA option exist which seek to redress these weaknesses. For example, Goal Oriented Project Planning (GOPP), an instrument developed by the GTZ, seeks to strengthen the LFA’s participative dimension by placing emphasis on steps such as participation analysis, problems analysis and goals analysis. The Social Framework (SF) likewise provides additional space in its matrix for consideration of the range of different agents involved in the development intervention, while Outcome Mapping similarly places intentional emphasis on a pre-planning phase used to consider existing relationships and organisational processes relevant to the project/programme.
The UK Department for International Development’s (DfID) Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF) is a fund supporting projects focused on poverty reduction and pursuit of the MDGs through tangible changes to poor people’s lives. DfID requires all applicants to the fund to complete a logframe template as part of their application, and projects are selected on the basis of demonstrable impact on poverty, clarity of outputs and outcomes and value for money
In 2009 CAFOD successfully used DFID’s logframe template to apply for £610,000 to fund a project in Kenya and Zimbabwe called ‘Mitigating the impact of the economic downturn on vulnerable groups’. CAFOD and DFID subsequently used the logframe to monitor and evaluate the success of the project.
The full logframe matrix used by CAFOD, which can be viewed in the referenced report, represents an example of a fully-developed logframe, and is organised by the categories of goal, purpose, inputs, outputs, and impact weighting (arranged vertically), and as supporting information, entries for baseline, indicator, milestones, target and year, and assumption (arranged horizontally)
Source: CAFOD (2011)
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) (2011). Mitigating the impact of the economic downturn on vulnerable groups. London, UK : Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP).
Chambers, R., & Pettit, J. (n.d.). Logframe - A Critique.
DFID. (2011). Guidance on Using the Revised Logical Framework. How to note. A DFID practice paper: Department for International Development (DFID).
ECODE. (2011). Critical Study of the Logical Framework Approach in the Basque Country. Estudo de Cooperacion al Desarollo.
Levine, C. J. (2007). Catholic Relief Services' (CRS) Guidance for Developing Logical and Results Frameworks. Baltimore: Catholic Relief Services.