Basic concepts of Results Based Management

Not surprisingly, the ‘Result’ is the central concept of Results Based Management. Results are  describable or measurable changes resulting from a cause and effect chain. This results chain describes how you will go from the current situation to the desired situation. In RBM, there are three types of results:

  • Direct results or outputs, which are produced by the project’s activities, using the project’s resources. These are the things that normally are under our control.
  • Intermediate results or effects, which are the consequences of the direct results. Often it takes a while for these effects to materialise. They are not completely under our control, very often there may be other influences at play here. Effects can be expected (as described in the project’s logframe), but also unexpected because of the very fact that there may be other influences at play. Effects can be positive, but our outputs may also lead to some negative effects.
  • Final results or the impact of our project. Generally the impact is only visible after a longer period and in the broader environment (not just with the people that were directly involved in the project). Like effects, the impact can have expected or unexpected elements that can be either positive or negative.

RBM project logic

According to the Canadian International Development Agency, which pioneered the use of RBM in international development, Results-based management  is a life-cycle approach to management that integrates strategy, people, resources, processes, and measurements to improve decision making, transparency, and accountability. The approach focuses on achieving outcomes, implementing performance measurement, learning, and adapting, as well as reporting performance.

RBM is:

  • Defining realistic expected results based on appropriate analysis;
  • Clearly identifying program beneficiaries and designing programs to meet their needs;
  • Monitoring progress toward results and resources consumed with the use of appropriate indicators;
  • Identifying and managing risk while bearing in mind the expected results and necessary resources;
  • Increasing knowledge by learning lessons and integrating them into decisions; and
  • Reporting on the results achieved and resources involved.

Main principles of RBM

The RBM approach is based on six main principles:

  1. Simplicity: RBM tries to identify a strategy that is easy to understand and easy to put into practice. RBM provides a number of simple tools to help with project design, project management and achieving the project’s results.
  2. Action learning: RBM integrates the learning cycle. We learn by doing and what we learn enables us to strengthen our capacities, improve the quality of our projects and get better results. This learning cycle is inclusive: it’s not just about the leading NGO that learns and improves, but everyone involved in the project. Partners and beneficiaries are empowered through learning and participation, and gradually see how important their role is and as a consequence they take up more responsibility.
  3. A flexible method: RBM adapts itself to different contexts and different types of projects. It’s even possible to introduce RBM into projects that are already running.
  4. Partnership: participation of partners and stakeholders is not only important during the formulation of the project, but also during the execution, monitoring and evaluation (appreciation) of the project. This is the only way to come to solid project design with relevant objectives AND to durable results and a sense of ownership of those results from the part of the local population and partners.
  5. Accountability, or sharing responsibilities between the partners. In RBM, participative decision making is important, as well as clearly defining each party’s responsibilities and tasks.
  6. Transparency: using well designed and well-chosen indicators, it must be possible to give a clear image of what the project is doing and where it is going. Transparency towards the donors, but also transparency towards the partners and beneficiaries. RBM introduces the Performance Framework to clearly identify objectives, how their progress will be measured (and at what frequency), who will be responsible for what, etc.