Outputs are tangible results created as a consequence of the project’s activities. Together, the outputs lead to the achievement of the project’s main purpose. The purpose is the situation you hope to achieve when the project is finished. The outputs are goods, services and so on that you want to create over the course of the project. As such, the outputs are – in principle – completely under your control.
At this level, the project logic is the strongest: you invest means (inputs) to do the activities, and the activities will lead to concrete outputs. There is a direct cause and effect: you do the activity (or you go through a process that combines different activities) and you get the output. This also means that you are fully responsible for achieving the outputs.
Outputs are formulated like a state that is achieved, not like an activity. For instance: 'All elementary schools in the Tizandat district are rehabilitated by 2013'.
If you write ‘Reconstruction of school buildings in the Tizandat district’, you formulate it as an activity, the act of reconstructing. Rather, you want to express that by the end of the project this action is finished and that the buildings are complete and shiny and new.
It is important to verify whether all outputs necessary to achieve the purpose have been identified. On the other hand, you should also refrain from adding outputs that may be nice, but have no direct link with the purpose. Often during the process of formulating the project with local partners and stakeholders, people have the tendency to say ‘while we’re at it, can’t we also include this or that nice idea’. They want to make good use of the(unique) opportunity that a donor or partner wants to do something in their area, and try to insert additional small projects.
Make sure the outputs that you’ve identified can be achieved with the resources at your disposal (or the means that you hope to achieve through a donor or other financers).