Too many externally financed projects have less impact on the beneficiaries than initially stated, because the project management team responds to the reporting requirements of the donor- and these often revolve around providing evidence of expenditure against budget headings and key performance indicators as outputs, but not outcomes.
Outputs are the things you did during the project, i.e. how many people attended your training workshop. Outcomes are the change this output caused (how did the behaviour and then performance of the trainees change because of attending). Measuring the latter is much harder but ultimately that was the purpose of the funded project. But are we too scared to measure it, in case it shows little was achieved?
Projects to train stakeholders in sustainable tourism often use the number of participants and the number of nationalities represented as key performance indicators- – this however says little about how much they learned, or more importantly how that learning has been applied to their practices.
The importance of following up
An EuropeAid Asia Invest project, Marketing Assistance to Nepal for Sustainable Tourism Products (MAST-Nepal), trained 30 Nepalese tour operators to be more competitive through sustainability. The training used sustainability action planning processes- four training sessions were scheduled each four months apart, first covering product development before moving onto marketing. At each session, the tour operators used an action plan template to include which practices they already had in place for each issue covered, and what they were planning to do different in the next four months. A ground coordinator copied the plans at the end of each training session and followed up during the four months the progress of the operators, providing tailor-made help so much of the plan would be completed before the next training session. This gave the team evidence of which workshops worked best and it made the reporting back to the funder much more meaningful.
Do you have experiences on project management you would like to share with us?