Measuring Results & the DCED Standard

Practitioners are working in complex, rapidly changing environments. In order to ‘get started’, they have to come up with a working hypothesis: ‘if we do x, then maybe y will follow, and then we hope to achieve z’. Clearly, that hypothesis will always be based on imperfect information and understanding; it is therefore particularly important to know, as events unfold, whether it is proving to be valid, needs to be adjusted or perhaps even abandoned.

The DCED Standard is a framework which helps practitioners to articulate the hypothesis very clearly, and to systematically set and monitor indicators which show whether events are occurring as expected. This empowers programmes to learn and adapt based on the monitoring data which they collect – which many would say is simply good management. Over 150 projects in more than 50 countries are currently implementing the DCED Standard, in sectors ranging from value chain development, to challenge funds, to business environment reform. These are shown in an interactive map which can be accessed here (or click on the image below).

Map of Programmes using DCED Standard

Using the DCED Standard has the following benefits for implementing agencies:

  • The DCED Standard saves time and money as programmes do not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ of good practice
  • It supports programmes in thinking through what they plan to do, and what they hope to achieve – and the assumptions on which their logic rests
  • It stresses the use of measured results in management decision making
  • It supports programmes to work in complex environments such as market systems, by encouraging flexibility and continual validation and revision of the programme logic
  • Unlike many other measurement methodologies, the DCED Standard emphasises system- or market-wide impacts.
  • Compliance can bring recognition from donors, recipient governments and others as being seriously engaged in results measurement and quality work, particularly if the results measurement system is subject to an external audit (the results of which are treated in confidence by DCED).

The DCED Standard is particularly relevant to those implementing sophisticated programmes within complex market systems, who need some assurance that they are being effective. By encouraging their grantees to use the DCED Standard, and offering the necessary means for them to do so well, donors can enhance the quality of their programmes. SDC has published a guide for staff on where and how to use the Standard framework, available here.

“The DCED Standard for Results Measurement provides an important check on the quality of implementation of our programmes.

“During procurement, the usual procedures do not allow for detailed exploration of the capacities of the proposed implementers; during implementation, we in SDC do not have the staff to follow progress in detail. Encouraging the use of the DCED Standard from the start of a programme is a welcome solution for us.

“It provides a framework of widely-accepted good practice in programme management, so that implementers do not have to reinvent the wheel. And it gives us, as a donor, the option of having an external DCED audit of the monitoring system, to enhance credibility.”

Peter Beez, SDC, 2016

If you are considering implementing the Standard, see the documents below to learn more. If you have comments or questions about the Standard, or are interested in implementing it in your organisation, contact the DCED Secretariat here. For more details on how to implement the Standard, browse the links on the right or go straight to this page on implementing the Standard.

  • One-hour webinar: Introduction to using the DCED Standard, with Grow Liberia, 2015