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Outcome Mapping

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Outcome Mapping was developed at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada, and published in manual form in 2001. It is a system for recording project/programme progress, or more precisely a structured process for planning for it. The core concept in Outcome Mapping is that development is based on changes in people’s behaviour. In contrast to conventional impact assessment methods, its focus is therefore not on (logically linked) project outputs and their effects on the target groups. Outcome Mapping concentrates instead on behavioural changes (called “outcomes”) in direct partners with whom the project is working (so-called “boundary partners”). Outcome Mapping is a qualitative and participatory approach and focuses on the project’s contribution to development. It was developed particularly as a tool for learning and for self-evaluation.

Planning process

The Outcome Mapping planning process consists of three stages and twelve steps, which would ideally be gone through in the planning phase of general project management.

Quelle: IDRC

Stage 1: Intentional Design

The aim here is to clarify and define (on a participatory basis) the overarching goals to which the project should contribute and the strategies used to achieve them. The first step involves writing down a project “vision” (why?) and “mission” (how?). A central task is to identify the primary “boundary partners” on whom the project will focus. These typically include the direct recipients of the project outputs (e.g. a local partner organisation) as well as other stakeholders. For every “boundary partner”, the general, desired behavioural changes are described and several concrete behavioural changes (so-called “progress markers”) are defined. Lastly, the activities designed to influence these changes in behaviour over the life of the project are defined.

Stage 2: Outcome & Performance Monitoring

The second stage involves the development of an ongoing monitoring system. The basic principle here is not just to monitor the achieved results (behavioural changes. Data is also collected on the activities and how the project works as an organisational unit. The first step is to set the monitoring priorities and, based on this, three data collection tools are planned. The “boundary partners’” progress is charted in relation to the “progress markers” by means of the “outcome journal”. The activities carried out in favour of the partners and their results are recorded in the “strategy journal”. Lastly, internal processes are closely monitored with the help of the “performance journal”.

Stage 3: Evaluation Planning

The last stage aims to clarify which aspects of the project (specific outcomes, activities or processes) need to be evaluated and plans the necessary resources for this to be done.

Outcome Mapping is suitable for:

  • Analysing the effects of development projects whose success can not be recorded using quantitative indicators alone;
  • Analysing the effects of participatory projects that aim to improve the behaviour (e.g. interaction, action/reaction and participation) of specific actors in complex systems;
  • Working out with which actors a project works with and which changes should be achieved with which strategies;
  • Making a case for a project’s contribution to a development;
  • Learning.

Conversely, it follows that Outcome Mapping is less suitable for demonstrating accountability or for ascertaining a project’s direct development contribution.

Outcome Mapping is also a planning and monitoring tool, and it therefore would not appear to make any sense to use Outcome Mapping for evaluations that only are initiated once a project has ended.


The complete Outcome Mapping Manual is available online:

There is further information about Outcome Mapping on the following websites:

For an article on (possibly) combining the Logical Framework Approach and Outcome Mapping: