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Brief analytical summaries or syntheses #52

Designing a results framework for achieving results: a how-to guide


Published by the World Bank, this booklet provides how-to guidance for designing results frameworks in the field of development. It discusses definitions, uses, requirements, formats, and challenges, and provides examples of frameworks at international, national and organizational levels.


Results-based management is a key tool for development effectiveness. Recent years have witnessed a trend in explicitly specifying the results (outcomes and impacts) of both broader country strategies and more specific programs and projects. Internationally agreed principles have underpinned this push for results, most notably with the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000), which established the Millennium Development Goals with targets and indicators to provide the basis for measuring progress and the effectiveness of aid.

Analysis and results

This publication provides how-to guidance for developing results frameworks by discussing the following:

  1. The definition of a results framework. What is it? How does a results framework complement and differ from a traditional monitoring and evaluation logical framework?

  2. Uses for results frameworks. What are the functions of a results framework? At what levels can one be developed and used effectively?

  3. Requirements to design a results framework. Is there an assessment and diagnosis process to understand the problem and desired results before the design and implementation of the intervention is developed? Does the team adequately understand the problem that a development intervention is designed to address? Has the program or project logic been defined?

  4. Designing a results framework step by step. What are the steps in formulating a results framework? How should practitioners establish strategic objectives and articulate the expected results? What is the process through which results, indicators, and data sources can be assigned for each level of desired result (output, outcome, and impact)?

  5. What are the criteria for designing a useful results framework? Who should be involved in developing and using the framework?

  6. Challenges. What are the potential pitfalls in developing results frameworks? What strategies help in avoiding these?

Results frameworks can serve these functions at various levels :

  1. They can be used to chart the contributions of an individual project to a development objective.

  2. They help take a results-oriented approach to addressing objectives for a particular sector or subsector.

  3. An organization can use a results framework to guide and gauge progress in pursuing its mission.

  4. Country-level results frameworks are also commonly used, with national governments and development partners including them as part of their national development plans, country assistance strategies, joint assistance strategies, country development programming frameworks, or other official strategies.


Ultimately, a results framework provides an important foundation for the results-based management of a development initiative and helps teams keep an eye on the achievement of strategic objectives.

Investing the time and effort early on to define targeted outcomes and using a disciplined approach to assigning indicators, defining data collection sources and strategies, and establishing a monitoring plan can yield a comprehensive and powerful tool to promote and assess development results.

Implications and recommendations

Results frameworks offer clear benefits to practitioners and others working to achieve development results, but the approach is potentially challenging:

  1. An up-front investment of time and resources is needed at the start of an intervention.
  2. The effects of interventions can be difficult to measure fully.
  3. Results frameworks can become overly complicated.
  4. Involving program staff in the evaluation process could bias results measurement.


Designing a results framework for achieving results : a how-to guide