Introduction to the DCED Standard

Private sector development aims to catalyse pro-poor change – usually with funds that are small in size, relative to the size of the overall market. Yet markets are in constant flux, meaning that PSD programmes need to understand in real time whether events are unfolding in the way that had been hoped (and if not, why not). The DCED Standard specifies seven elements of a successful monitoring system – historically a neglected art (and science).

Programmes using the DCED Standard begin by clarifying the logic of what they are doing, and then exploring whether that logic is turning out to be valid; they then iteratively up-date the logic in the light of experience gained.

This provides a flexible way to manage projects, based on an inter-agency understanding of good practice. See for example The Science in Adaptive Management (ILO, 2016) for the DCED Standard in context, as a ‘widely accepted’ process framework that brings discipline to the learning process.

Introductory resources can be found at the bottom of the page. An interactive map of over 150 projects currently using the DCED Standard can be found here. In summary, using the DCED Standard has the following benefits for implementing agencies:

  • The DCED Standard saves time and money by not having 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 what assumptions they are relying on.
  • It stresses the use of results measurement to make management decisions;
  • 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 other agencies 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).

SDCCoverThe 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, April 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.


Introductory Resources