* according to Swisscontact system for Monitoring and Results measurement, rounded
Since 2013, Swisscontact has been investing considerably in building a unified results measurement system for use in all projects and which meets the standards of the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED). Impact chains constitute the core of this system; for each intervention, measurable indicators, appropriate assessment tools, sustainability indicators and rules for optimal use of the results in project management are defined. When all these elements are present and of high quality, a project delivers credible results and interventions can be continuously improved. It also provides valuable knowledge for our partners and other projects.
In 2017, a new results measurement guideline and reporting mechanism was developed and projects that work to promote sustainable tourism, entrepreneurship and exports were provided with technical support. Internal results measurement experts also provided support in the conceptual development of new projects as well as in communication with partners.
In September a seminar was held with project managers and results measurement specialists of Swisscontact’s own Development Programme. The topics covered included practical solutions for smaller projects, using IT tools, and how to use the system in various areas. Seminar participants shared that they considered continuous support from technical advisors and an intensive exchange among results measurement experts to be of vital importance.
An interview with Markus Kupper, Head of Monitoring and Results Measurement at Swisscontact since 2013.
Markus Kupper, since 2013 you have headed up the standardised results measurement of Swisscontact. What is its objective?
Markus Kupper: Our projects are results-oriented. Standardised results measurement allows us to set learning processes in motion for various projects. In addition, we can show our donors that we are implementing resources appropriately.
Swisscontact’s results measurement is based on the DCED standard. What does that mean?
The standard ensures that a project will deliver robust information about its results and continuously factor this into project management. The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) introduced this standard based on actual project experiences, including those of Swisscontact. At the heart of the system are impact models that visualise interventions and expected results. At each step of the results chain, changes and corresponding methods are measured and fed back to Project Management. This allows us to make more precise predictions and projections.
What did Swisscontact achieve in results measurement over the last five years?
To my knowledge, Swisscontact is the only organisation that has built a comprehensive results measurement system with the relevant support structures in accordance with the DCED standard. We’ve also trained internal results measurement advisors. Meanwhile, 80% of our projects have attained a very high level in this regard. I find it particularly positive that we have broadened our understanding of effects. As an example, tourism development projects often aim to attract more tourists to a region. The assumption is that this will improve the local population’s living standards. But we need to be aware of the broader impact these projects will have: What do more tourists mean for the environment? What job opportunities are created by them? Where do investments come from? How will projects change local culture? From this information we can then determine how to implement project initiatives in a way that will minimise negative effects, while building on the positive impact.
What are the most significant challenges?
Developing impact chains requires immense time expenditure on the part of the entire project team, as well as close collaboration and mutual understanding. This is an essential investment at the very beginning of the process. The question is also how much a good results measurement system should cost and who should be responsible for paying for it. In my experience it would be ideal if 5 – 10% of project costs were allocated to a solid results measurements system.
In 2018 you will retire after 34 years with Swisscontact. What will you tell your successor?
At the end of the day it’s local employees who perform results measurement and as such, they need to be trained and supported. Practice must be aligned with project realities. Implementing shared principles sometimes requires a certain steadfastness – in other words, discussions about alternative methods should not go on forever.
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