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11 Jun

Results-Based Management for Nonprofit Organizations: From Strategy to Workplans

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The above statement ”From Strategy to Workplans” sounds simpler as it often is! We are well aware of this, however we believe, that we can help you getting on the way! HOLZER & Associates Ltd has a strong experience in dealing and implementing UN-centric Results-Based Management Framework and solutions. We would be pleased to invite you to take part in a set of exclusive roundtable events and onsite presentations, where we will show you how and with which solutions we can definitely help you.


  • Do you rely upon a unified management and decision-making system?
  • How well are your programs and budgets aligned with your organization’s strategic objectives?
  • How well do users identify and track the outcomes and targets of their programs according to the strategic objectives?
  • Can stakeholders easily see the actual progress vs. planned?
  • How easily do your operations adapt to changes in the strategic framework?

HOLZER & Associates Ltd is able to show you how combining the right management approaches with the right software solutions will ensure a trustworthy management system. Contact us and learn about a real example of a best-in-class Results-Based Management initiative for a nonprofit organization.

PURPOSE Results-based management has become important because both Member States and the management of the United Nations want to have a more effective United Nations that is able to respond to new demands within the limits of resource constraints. And both want to be able to demonstrate this. Its purpose is to shift managerial and administrative emphasis from a process-focused approach to one based on performance and results (outcomes). The premise is that if organizations plan in terms of the results they expect to achieve and then verify that they have achieved them, resources will be used effectively and public support will be maintained. A key element is programme performance assessment, which can be defined as determining whether expected accomplishments were obtained and why or why not.

The past decade or so has seen an increased emphasis on results in the United Nations development system. This emphasis on results is part of the broader United Nations reform agenda that seeks to improve coherence of the United Nations system, its effectiveness and its accountability. Results-based management (RBM) has been part of the United Nations reform agenda for well over a decade. Since the 2007 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR), there have been increased efforts on the part of the United Nations development system to enhance results-based management within individual agencies and at the country level, through the UNDAF, as one of its five programming principles. The application of results-based management in the development field has gained currency and national governments and public institutions increasingly are adopting this approach. Further impetus for improving results-based management comes from demands from both programme and donor countries for the United Nations development system to demonstrate that it is achieving its objectives, that it does so efficiently and that its activities are relevant to the needs and priorities of programme countries and contribute to improved and sustainable development outcomes.


The United Nations began to implement results-based management through the programme budget process.  After 1998, the Organization began its transition to a results-based budget.  Results-based budgeting was defined in terms of a process in which programme formulation revolves around a set of predefined objectives and expected accomplishments.  These expected accomplishments justify the resource requirements to produce the outputs required to achieve such results. Finally, actual performance in achieving results is measured by objective performance indicators.


In practice in the UN, the cycle is defined by specific required documents. On a high level plan everything starts with a five-year mid-term strategic plan (MTSP). This one consists in defining the whole set of Strategic Outcomes and Strategic Outcome Indicators. This step requires the involvement of and the approval by State members. The programming process in itself begins with the establishment of a two-year strategic framework which becomes the basis for defining the biennial programme budget. Once that is approved, each programme prepares an annual work plan, which is monitored on a continuous basis by programme managers. Oversight monitoring is done internally at the 12- and 18-month stages as well as at the end of the biennium for reporting to Member States. Self-evaluation should take place as needed, but is essential at the 18-month stage of the biennium so that it can influence the preparation of the strategic framework for the next cycle.


The highest level concept in RBM as practiced in the United Nations is the objective. All work is addressed toward achieving an objective. Well-defined objectives have two characteristics: they are time limited and they describe the situation that should be observed at the end of the time period. The key to good objectives is that they specify an observable end-state. As such, they are neither vague nor a projection of activities. The achievement of well-defined objectives can be planned. Badly defined objectives are essentially meaningless.

Objectives also are defined in terms of the needs of end-users. Who these end-users are will be defined shortly.


The term impact is used in many contexts. However, in the international context, it refers to the changes that have occurred in the situation of a beneficiary population as a result of achieving an objective. Thus, for most United Nations programmes, impact is the overall effect of accomplishing specific results. It is useful to bear this in mind, both in planning and in evaluating programmes.


The key concept in results-based management is the “expected accomplishment” or desired outcome. Like an objective, it is an end-state, something that can be seen at a particular point in time. It is a change that can be observed to have taken place. It is something that has to happen if an objective is to be achieved. And, it is something that can be shown to have happened as a consequence of producing an output. However, it is not something that is under the direct control of a programme. A programme’s outputs can -- and should -- influence an outcome, but cannot guarantee that the outcome will occur. The presumption is that well-formulated programmes, with realistic expected accomplishments, will be able to make those outcomes happen.


The lowest level result in the RBM conceptual structure is the output. In United Nations usage these are the products or services delivered by a subprogramme in order to induce outcomes. The outputs are produced by the activities. Outputs are reported at the subprogramme level. They can include such tangibles as reports, publications, training courses, advisory missions, and meeting sessions serviced. Specific goods and services produced by the programme. Outputs can also represent changes in skills or abilities or capacities of individuals or institutions, resulting from the completion of activities within a development intervention within the control of the organization.


Activity is a simpler concept. It is the action taken to produce outputs. It can include such things as doing research, organizing meetings, running training courses, reviewing the resumes of candidates.


Inputs are the objects of expenditure that are used to undertake activities. They include personnel, consultants, travel, equipment and the like.


External factors should be considered at both the planning and evaluation stages. The extent of their effect should be assessed when an expected accomplishment is not fully realized. External factors should not be cited as an ‘excuse’ for non-performance.


In the logical framework, each of the results should have a corresponding indicator of achievement. In practice, the United Nations does not develop indicators of achievement for the objectives. The focus of achievement is on the expected accomplishment. A significant effort has been invested in defining indicators that will show whether expected accomplishments have actually taken place. These indicators, once they have been adopted by the Member States, constitute the commitments to which the programmes will be held accountable.


The output, outcome or impact (intended or unintended, positive and/or negative) of a development intervention.


  1.  A clear conceptual framework for results-based management exists as a broad management strategy
  2. The respective responsibilities of the organization’s main parties are clearly defined
  3.  Long-term objectives have been clearly formulated for the organization
  4.  The organization’s programmes are well aligned with its long-term objectives
  5. The organization’s resources are well aligned with its long-term objectives
  6. An effective performance monitoring system is in place
  7. Evaluation findings are used effectively
  8. Results-based management is effectively internalized throughout the organization
  9. A knowledge management strategy is developed to support results-based management
Read 6013 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2015 05:45
F. Holzer

Driven business and management consultant fascinated by investigating critical niches and by building teams that yield enduring BI and CPM solutions.

Major involvement [with significant finance transformation programs around EPM/BI projects worldwide (with focus on e.g. budgeting, planning, forecasting, reporting and analysis), able to demonstrate both sophisticated consulting skills in English, French, Spanish at C-suite level, and depth of knowledge of finance processes], since 1999, in over 60 consulting assignments to senior executives and management. Developed expertise in a wide range of disciplines: strategic planning and implementation, organizational planning, operational reviews, human resources and financial consulting.

Website: www.linkedin.com/in/fgholzer
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