Results-Based Management Tip Sheet 2.2 – SyntaxFootnote 1 Structure of Outcome, Output and Activity Statements
This tip sheet is a companion to the Results-Based Management for International Assistance Programming at Global Affairs Canada: A How-to Guide. This tool expands on the discussion of the structure for outcome and output statements in the How-to Guide and provides a reference tool that you can use in your day-to-day work.
This tool can be used to develop and assess outcome (result) statements. It can be used as an informal validation tool to help determine whether outcome statements clearly identify the: who, what and where of the expected change. This helps ensure that outcomes are concrete, realistic and focused. The tool can be used in a similar way for output statements.
Outcome, output and activity statement structures
Outcome statements (ultimate, intermediate and immediate)
A strong outcome statement starts with a word that indicates the direction of the expected change, and tells you what will change, who will experience the change, and where that change takes place.
Use an adjective (drawn from a verb in past tense) to indicate the expected direction of change. For example: increased, improved, reduced, enhancedFootnote 2.
The actual thing/element that will change. For example:
- capacity, such as awareness, skills, knowledge, etc. (for immediate outcomes)
- behaviour, practice or performance (for intermediate outcomes)
- state, well-being or condition [but not surrounding circumstances] (for ultimate outcomes)
To describe the type of change sought for intermediaries or beneficiaries, and to provide further specificity, the “what” often includes:
- adjectives (e.g., equitable, effective, sustainable, gender sensitive, etc.)
- nouns (e.g., efficiency, effectiveness, quality, accountability, etc.) or
- adverbs (e.g., efficiently, effectively, etc.)
Identifies the individuals, groups, organizations or entities who will experience the change described; in other words, intermediaries or beneficiaries. For example: ministry of health, agricultural-extension workers, farmers, journalists, local communities, women, children, men, minorities.
Identifying the “who” helps to gauge how realistic the change is and makes it more specific.
Note that “including,” “specifically,” “especially” or “particularly” can be used to specify a specific group targeted within a large whole. For example: Increased access to public services for women, particularly marginalized ethnic minorities.
The geographical location of the change being described. For example: community, country, region, village, etc.
- Improved health of women in Region Y, Country X (ultimate outcome)
- Enhanced provision of health services to women and men by the ministry of health in Region Z (intermediate outcome)
- Increased awareness of proper hygiene-practices by women in Region Y, Country X (immediate outcome)
- Increased protection of the rights of minorities by government X in Country X (intermediate outcome)
Note: The “where” (or location), must be identified at the ultimate and intermediate outcome levels of the logic model. If the location is different at the immediate outcome level (e.g. specific village within the province or country identified in the ultimate or intermediate outcome) it should be included in the statement. If it is not different, or the location is implicit in the “who” it may be left out.
A strong output statement starts with the product or service to be produced or delivered, and includes the topic or subject, a verb in the past tense, the target group and location (what in what for whom). In the context of Global Affairs Canada project or program logic models, outputs always describe the products or services provided by the implementer funded by Global Affairs Canada.
The product or service provided by the project implementer, and in what topic or subject.
The “what” can be qualified (e.g., gender sensitive training delivered… or environmentally responsible disposal strategy developed, etc.)if it helps describe a minimum standard. This qualification should not be subjective (e.g., avoid “efficient process developed, or “user-friendly tools created”).Footnote 3
Use a verb in the past tense describing how the output was delivered.
For example: provided, delivered, completed, organized
The individuals, groups, organizations or entities to or for whom the output was produced or provided; in other words, intermediaries or beneficiaries.
Note that “specifically,” “especially” or “particularly” can be used to specify a selected group within a larger whole.
The geographical location of the product or service being delivered or rendered. (See note above).
For example: community, country, region, village, etc.
Pamphlet on maternal health-services produced for local women’s groups in village X.
A strong activity statement starts with a verb in the present tense, followed by what specific activity, in what topic or subject the implementer will perform, with or for whom and where.
A verb in the imperative mood describing the action to be taken.
For example: provide, train, produce, hire, prepare, develop, etc.
1st What & 2nd What
The activity being undertaken by the project implementer, and in what topic or subject.
The individuals, groups, organizations or entities for whom, or in cooperation with whom, the activity is undertaken; in other words, intermediaries or beneficiaries.
Note that “specifically,” “especially” or “particularly” can be used to specify a selected group within a large whole.
The geographical location of the activity being described.
For example: community, country, region, village, etc.
Conduct inclusive consultations on maternal health needs with local women’s groups and health service providers in village X.
Structural elements to avoid
Consequence or causal bridges
Terms such as “through,” “to,” “leading to” and “by” (also known as consequence or causal bridges) should NEVER be used when they indicate a causal relationship between phrases in an outcome statement, since it would generally indicate the existence of more than one result at multiple levels in one statement. NEVER include consequence bridges in an outcome statement. For example:
- “Increased access to primary health care leading to improved health of children in community X” is an inappropriate outcome statement.
- Why? “Increased access to primary health care in community X” should be located at one level below “Improved health of children in community X” in the logic model.
- In other words, in this example, “Increased access to primary health care in community X” would be an intermediate outcome leading or contributing to an ultimate outcome of “Improved health of children in community X.”
Conjunctions and semi-colons (“and,” “;”) should generally not be used. They often indicate the presence of two results (outcomes) in one statement.
However, two whats maywork in one result if they are experienced by the same who (intermediary or beneficiary) and supported by the same elements in the lower levels of the logic model. For example:
- “Improved effectiveness and accountability of public institutions” is OK.
- “Improved accountability of public institutions and increased usage of government services by women” is not OK.
Examples of correct structures - outcomes, outputs and activity statements
|Improved||health||of women||in region Y, country X|
|Increased||enjoyment of human rights||by men, women and children||in country X|
|Reduced||vulnerability to food insecurity||of conflict-affected women, men, girls and boys||in country X|
|Enhanced||economic empowerment||of women and youth||in selected rural communities of country Y|
|Strengthened||representation and participation in local decision-making||by women, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged populations||in country X|
|Enhanced||provisionFootnote 4 of health services||by staff in regional clinics to men, women and children||in region Z|
|Reduced||weapons of mass destruction stockpiles||by the government||in country X|
|Increased||respect for the rights of women||by the national government||in country Y|
|Increased||knowledge of key social services, public policy and decision-making processes||by community-based organization||in town X|
|Increased||awareness of availability of basic essential obstetric care||by women||in province Y|
|Increased||ability to identify and address security threats||by government X||in country X|
|Increased||participation||of ordinary citizens||in politics||in country Z|
|Increased||access||by civil society||to information and policy fora on government policy and decision-making related to environment and natural resources||in country X|
|Increased||ability||of health workers||to address the nutrition challenges of women of reproductive age, newborns and children under age five||in country Z|
|Increased||ability||of female and male members of the community water-collectives in region Y||to maintain wells||(implied)|
|Improved||ability||of local health-centre male and female staff||in gender-sensitive triage, diagnosis and primary healthcare||in region Y|
|What||What subject||Verb (past tense)||To or for whom|
|Technical assistance||on gender-responsive and environmentally sensitive project management||provided||to regional government staff|
|Training||on human rights||provided||to selected women in refugee camp X|
|Training||in gender-sensitive community-consultation and -participation mechanisms for policy planning and design||provided||to selected regional-government staff|
|Technical assistance||for the operationalization of regional planning centres||provided||to selected regional government staff|
|Pamphlet||on maternal-health services||produced||for local women's groups in village X|
|What||Verb (past tense)||What subject||To or for whom|
|Outreach meetings||convened||-||with the communities at the grassroots level|
|Training||provided||on trade-negotiation techniques||to staff (f/m) in organization X|
|Verb||What / What||For Whom||Where|
|Conduct||inclusive consultations on maternal-health needs||with local women’s-groups and health-service providers||in village X|
|Provide||technical assistance on how to produce pamphlets||to local print Micro Small and Medium Enterprises||in region Y|
Updated: July 2017
These tools will be updated annually as required. Enquiries or feedback on this tip sheet should be directed to: Results-Based Management Centre of Excellence, Operational Direction and Coherence, International Assistance Operations Bureau, Global Affairs Canada
- Date Modified: