The Strategy Design
How to set the indicators?
Indicators are measurements that provide information about past and current trends and assist project and program managers in making decisions that affect future outcomes. The usefulness of indicators for monitoring and evaluation is broadly acknowledged. Indicators related to expected output, outcomes and impacts should be used.
Generally indicators have numerical values. However, in cases where indicators cannot be measured with quantitative (statistical) data, qualitative assessments or logical assumptions may be used.
Identifying the relevant indicators
Choosing the most appropriate indicators can be difficult. Development of a successful monitoring and evaluation system requires that several people are involved in identifying the indicators: those who will collect the data, those who will use the data, and those who have the technical expertise to understand the strengths and limitations of specific measures. You can ask for facilitator to help you with finding and choosing the most appropriate indicators.
These questions may help you design the indicators for your LEADER strategy:
Does this indicator enable one to know about the expected result or condition?
Indicators should, to the extent possible, provide the most direct evidence of the condition or result they are measuring. Proxy measures may sometimes be necessary due to data collection or time constraints. When using proxy measures, planners must acknowledge that they will not always provide the best evidence of conditions or results.
Is the indicator defined in the same way over time? Are data for the indicator collected in the same way over time?
To draw conclusions over a period of time, decision-makers must be certain that they are looking at data which measure the same phenomenon (often called reliability). The definition of an indicator must therefore remain consistent each time it is measured. One good example is a full-time job equivalent. Likewise, where percentages are used, the denominator must be clearly identified and consistently applied. Additionally, care must be taken to use the same measurement instrument or data collection protocol to ensure consistent data collection.
Will data be available for an indicator?
Data on indicators must be collected frequently enough to be useful to decision-makers. Data on outcomes are often only available on an annual basis; those measuring outputs, processes, and inputs are typically available more frequently.
Are data currently being collected? If not, can cost effective instruments for data collection be developed?
Data, especially data relating to input and output indicators and some standard outcome indicators, will often already be collected. Where data are not currently collected, the cost of additional collection efforts must be weighed against the potential utility of the additional data.
Is this indicator important to most people? Will this indicator provide sufficient information about a condition or result to convince both supporters and skeptics?
Indicators which are publicly reported must have high credibility. They must provide information that will be both easily understood and accepted by important stakeholders. However, indicators that are highly technical or which require a lot of explanation (such as indices) may be necessary for those more intimately involved in programs.
Is the indicator quantitative?
Numeric indicators often provide the most useful and understandable information to decision-makers. In some cases, however, qualitative information may be necessary to understand the measured phenomenon.
Within LEADER one practical bottom-up approach to further develop the set of indicators is first to try to measure at least one outcome / indicator from every single project. Until the end of the programming period you will have a long list of indicators that have been relevant from the grassroots needs point of view. This empirical data helps you assess how well the initial indicators set in the strategy document served their purpose and if there is a need for an update.
Need for common indicators
The LEADER strategy indicators may substantially differ from region to region, reflecting the different needs of the highly diverse rural areas of the EU. Yet there is a need to agree on and establish some common indicators for all the regions in order to get the EU and national level information on the results. The common indicators are defined by the EU’s Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF).