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PPM&E Resource Portal - Logical Framework Approach

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Logical Framework Approach


The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is an analytical, presentational and management tool which can help planners and managers to:

  • analyse the existing situation during project preparation;
  • establish a logical hierarchy of means by which objectives will be reached;
  • identify some of the potential risks;
  • establish how outputs and outcomes might best be monitored and evaluated; and
  • present a summary of the project in a standard format.

Key steps in the Logical Framework Approach

  1. Establish the general scope and focus of the project.
  2. Agree on the specific planning framework, terminology and design process.
  3. Undertake a detailed situation analysis.
  4. Develop the project strategy (objective hierarchy, implementation arrangements and resources).
  5. Identify and analyse the assumptions and risks for the chosen strategies and modify the project design if assumptions are incorrect or risks are too high.
  6. Develop the monitoring and evaluation framework.

The Logical Framework Approach involves problem analysis (problem tree), stakeholder analysis, objectives tree, objectives hierarchy and selecting a preferred implementation strategy.

The product of this analytical approach is the matrix (the Logframe), which summarises what the project intends to do and how, what the key assumptions are, and how outputs and outcomes will be monitored and evaluated.

Context

The logical framework approach (LFA) has evolved since the 1970s as a methodology for improving the systematic planning of development projects. Over time, it has evolved from simply a framework for structuring project objectives to more sophisticated, process-orientated approaches for involving stakeholders in project design and management.

Using LFA for project or program design imposes rigour in assessing what is to be achieved and the assumptions behind what interventions and activities will be required. Many international donors, such as the Asian Development Bank and the European Union, require projects they fund to be designed according to an LFA.

 

Various groups and facilitators have integrated an extensive range of participatory planning methodologies and tools with the basic LFA framework and quite sophisticated planning workshops have been developed. There are numerous LFA manuals and documents.

Strenghts

  • During initial stages can be used to test project ideas and concepts for relevance and usefulness.
  • When designing logframes help to make comprehensive plans that are feasible within acceptable levels of risks.
  • Logframes can form the basis of ‘contracts’ with explicit statements of what will be delivered.
  • During implementation the logframe serves as the main reference for drawing up detailed work plans, terms of reference, budgets, etc.
  • Logframe provides indicators against which the project progress and achievements can be assessed.

Weaknesses

LFA has become widely accepted as a useful and necessary tool for project planning. However, it does have weaknesses, including:

  • focusing too much on problems rather than opportunities and vision;
  • being used too rigidly, leading people into a ‘blueprint’ approach to project design;
  • limited attention to problems of uncertainty where a learning or adaptive approach to project design and management is required; and
  • a tendency for poorly-thought-through sets of activities and objectives to be entered into a PPM table, giving the appearance of a logical framework when in fact the key elements of the analytical process have been skipped.

Despite these limitations and provided due attention is given to the participation of stakeholders and it is not used too rigidly, the LFA approach remains a very valuable tool for project planning and management.

Further reading:

  • AusGUIDElines 1 The Logical Framework Approach (2000), AusAID
  • European Commission (1993) Project cycle management
  • SIDA (2004)   The Logical Framework Approach: A summary of the theory behind
    the LFA method
  • Poate (1998) Measuring and managing results: lessons for development cooperation