Program Implementation Model

Measurably improving child well-being is at the center of our approach to child and community development.

Program implementation model: Assess, Design, Monitor, Evaluate, Reflect, then Redesign or Transition

This is our Theory of Change:

  • Problem: Poverty exists largely because of broken relationships.
  • Assumption: Children are not only a community’s most precious resource, they are also central to addressing poverty overall. How a community treats its children will have major implications for its health and well-being overall.
  • Proposed Solution: In order to address poverty, we must work with children, their caregivers, and other stakeholders in the community to restore broken relationships and focus them on the sustained well-being of children.

Over the years, we’ve redesigned and refined our framework based on what we’ve learned from working and collaborating with children, families, communities and experts around the world.

Learn more about our development programs, and read our Handbook for Development.

How It Works

We use a logical framework to describe program and project cycle management through six basic components: assessment, design, monitoring, evaluation, reflection and transition. Our principles and approaches describe vital elements that need to be in place in order to achieve our goal.  Our approach differs depending on the problem we are addressing.  We adjust our approach when it requires different interventions, recognizing that our approach to maternal health will be different than our approach to malaria. Learn more below.

Assessment is the process of collecting and analyzing information and exploring the context to better understand needs and existing resources in the community. This helps us prioritize and make choices with the community regarding areas of focus.

The Critical Path (see illustration) is a process for putting our Development Program Approach into action.

  • It is a flexible process that program staff can apply as appropriate in their context.
  • It has been developed to help World Vision program staff collaborate with communities and local stakeholders toward the sustained well-being of children, especially the most vulnerable.
  • It is intended to ensure effective response to the needs of children in the near-term and the long-term by developing partnerships with community stakeholders and other locally-based organizations.
  • It is designed to build on existing local efforts and enable local ownership from the very beginning of a program. This approach is based on learning and good practices from programs across World Vision, as well as what we have learned over the years from our work with experts around the globe.

Our preferred local roles along the Critical Path are to facilitate and empower the community and local stakeholders, and to build their capacity to implement and manage shared projects. We start a dialogue and bring local partners together around the issue of child well-being to determine what each is already doing, what else can be done, and who can best play what role going forward.

Partnering does not mean that we only fund other groups or that we only work through partners. Rather, we work with other partners toward the sustained well-being of children, based on their roles and capacities.

The planning process may identify a direct implementation role for World Vision in shared projects — especially when children’s needs are urgent and local partner capacity is limited. When this is the case, we always work to strengthen local capacity to assume these roles over time, because this approach contributes to greater and more sustained impact on the lives of children. Our role may need to expand again if a disaster strikes or conflict arises.

Design and/or re-design is the process of planning appropriate program and project strategies using assessment results to show how identified issues can be addressed. Community needs, rights, and priorities are all taken into account in deciding how to implement a program or project.

Our Theory of Change and Logical Framework are created at this step. A Theory of Change outlines what we believe is going to make the difference from the less ideal situation to the desired state. A Logical Framework details what is being measured, how it is being measured, and what targets are being set.

  • The Theory of Change basically says, if we do A and B, it will lead to C.
  • The Logical Framework outlines what A, B and C are.
    • C = objectives (results)
    • A and B = activities defined by indicators to measure success, measured through a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan

Each project will have its own Theory of Change, based on its context.

For example, both a community in Kenya and a community in Sri Lanka want to lower malnutrition. In Kenya, the Theory of Change would be something like: If we…

  1. Train mothers in household gardens (because everyone is a farmer in the community) and
  2. Train them to feed the food grown in their household gardens to their children instead of selling them for profit, then
  3. We will lower the malnutrition rate over time.

However, this may not work in Sri Lanka because people there aren’t farmers; it doesn’t fit the context. In Sri Lanka, then, the Theory of Change may be: If we…

  1. Conduct a nutrition intervention and
  2. Ensure that fathers understand the importance of nutrition for their children so that they will spend their money on food instead of alcohol, then
  3. We lower malnutrition over time.

Monitoring refers to routine collection of information to establish that inputs, activities, and outputs have occurred. Monitoring supports basic management and accountability, and it tracks actual performance in a situation against plans or expectations in the original design.

We use the logical framework indicator-tracking table to monitor progress over time toward targets that were set regarding specific indicators that we measure. Monitoring involves conducting a baseline measurement as early as possible after the start of the program. This baseline measurement is what allows us to measure change over time.

Monitoring also involves analyzing the data and recommending appropriate project management responses to guide implementation.

We measure A and B activities of the Logical Framework at this step. (See the “design” tab to learn about Logical Frameworks.) Information on the achievement of activities is collected and analyzed regularly. We also measure progress toward outcomes through an annual monitoring process.

We value accountability and believe it’s critical to share the data and information we collect from a community with that community, as well as with local partners, governments, and donors.

Evaluation is an exercise that attempts to systematically and objectively assess relevance and performance — what’s working and what’s not working in ongoing and completed programs and projects.

We used mixed-methods to measure effectiveness both quantitatively and qualitatively through household surveys, child and caregiver interviews, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews.

A program evaluation is conducted every three to five years for our long-term community development programs, and every year to two years for our grant-funded projects, to measure change over time. Some evaluations go a step further and explore impact that is attempting to look for our contribution to the change that is being measured. Other evaluations also explore themes like sustainability to understand the extent to which positive outcomes can and are sustained over the long-term.

We measure C of the Logical Framework at this step.

Whether C improved or not shows whether our Theory of Change was right. Continuing with the Kenya example from the “design” tab: If malnutrition isn’t down after five years, then there is either something wrong with our Theory of Change, or something wrong with the way we implemented the activities. For example, maybe we didn’t do enough trainings with families on the importance of feeding their children instead of selling the food. Or, perhaps we did lots of trainings, but not in a way that was relevant or well received by the families.

This information is key both for those programs whose results met the expectation as well as those whose program results fell short. We use this information during our reflection process to consider how to improve our approach and interventions. See highlighted sections in the Leuk Daek Program Evaluation in our Evaluation Examples below.

Reflection is a participatory process of planning and putting time aside to bring partners and the community together with us to:

  • Analyze project and program evaluation information, including what is going well and what challenges are emerging.
  • Make informed decisions and recommendations about necessary changes in current projects and programs, which lead to transformation of the program, individuals and the organization.

It is critical that we are able to learn from our experience. Learning happens best in an atmosphere of trust and openness, where failures and challenges can be discussed constructively, and where there is enough time and dedication to reflection and learning activities with the community and local stakeholders.

This is where we look at the Program Evaluation findings for evidence of operational change. The findings from a Program Evaluation are then used to re-design the program throughout its lifetime. See highlighted sections in the Leuk Daek Re-Design Program Narrative in our Evaluation Examples below.

Transition refers to the process of World Vision ending its involvement in a shared project or program. We aim to assist communities in a way that empowers them to sustain program outcomes after our assistance has ended.

It is important that we end our involvement in a well-planned way, so that the benefits gained by communities and stakeholders can be continued into the future, after we have withdrawn. In order to end well, we need to work with communities and stakeholders to begin programs with the end in mind. A plan needs to be in place from the beginning of the program, showing how World Vision will phase out of the shared program in a way that promotes sustainability.

The decision to close a program can be made after reviewing evaluation findings, having community discussions, and making strategic considerations. This decision should be evidence based, and should only be made once the community feels confident that they have a plan to sustain the most important outcomes that have been achieved.

Throughout previous phases of the Critical Path, our role was to strengthen and empower local communities and stakeholders to take on increasing responsibility in planning and managing shared projects. In this way, transition of roles and responsibilities is not something that happens at the end of a program but is an integral part of our approach to working at the local level.

Assessment is the process of collecting and analyzing information and exploring the context to better understand needs and existing resources in the community. This helps us prioritize and make choices with the community regarding areas of focus.

The Critical Path (see illustration) is a process for putting our Development Program Approach into action.

  • It is a flexible process that program staff can apply as appropriate in their context.
  • It has been developed to help World Vision program staff collaborate with communities and local stakeholders toward the sustained well-being of children, especially the most vulnerable.
  • It is intended to ensure effective response to the needs of children in the near-term and the long-term by developing partnerships with community stakeholders and other locally-based organizations.
  • It is designed to build on existing local efforts and enable local ownership from the very beginning of a program. This approach is based on learning and good practices from programs across World Vision, as well as what we have learned over the years from our work with experts around the globe.

Our preferred local roles along the Critical Path are to facilitate and empower the community and local stakeholders, and to build their capacity to implement and manage shared projects. We start a dialogue and bring local partners together around the issue of child well-being to determine what each is already doing, what else can be done, and who can best play what role going forward.

Partnering does not mean that we only fund other groups or that we only work through partners. Rather, we work with other partners toward the sustained well-being of children, based on their roles and capacities.

The planning process may identify a direct implementation role for World Vision in shared projects — especially when children’s needs are urgent and local partner capacity is limited. When this is the case, we always work to strengthen local capacity to assume these roles over time, because this approach contributes to greater and more sustained impact on the lives of children. Our role may need to expand again if a disaster strikes or conflict arises.

Design and/or re-design is the process of planning appropriate program and project strategies using assessment results to show how identified issues can be addressed. Community needs, rights, and priorities are all taken into account in deciding how to implement a program or project.

Our Theory of Change and Logical Framework are created at this step. A Theory of Change outlines what we believe is going to make the difference from the less ideal situation to the desired state. A Logical Framework details what is being measured, how it is being measured, and what targets are being set.

  • The Theory of Change basically says, if we do A and B, it will lead to C.
  • The Logical Framework outlines what A, B and C are.
    • C = objectives (results)
    • A and B = activities defined by indicators to measure success, measured through a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan

Each project will have its own Theory of Change, based on its context.

For example, both a community in Kenya and a community in Sri Lanka want to lower malnutrition. In Kenya, the Theory of Change would be something like: If we…

  1. Train mothers in household gardens (because everyone is a farmer in the community) and
  2. Train them to feed the food grown in their household gardens to their children instead of selling them for profit, then
  3. We will lower the malnutrition rate over time.

However, this may not work in Sri Lanka because people there aren’t farmers; it doesn’t fit the context. In Sri Lanka, then, the Theory of Change may be: If we…

  1. Conduct a nutrition intervention and
  2. Ensure that fathers understand the importance of nutrition for their children so that they will spend their money on food instead of alcohol, then
  3. We lower malnutrition over time.

Monitoring refers to routine collection of information to establish that inputs, activities, and outputs have occurred. Monitoring supports basic management and accountability, and it tracks actual performance in a situation against plans or expectations in the original design.

We use the logical framework indicator-tracking table to monitor progress over time toward targets that were set regarding specific indicators that we measure. Monitoring involves conducting a baseline measurement as early as possible after the start of the program. This baseline measurement is what allows us to measure change over time.

Monitoring also involves analyzing the data and recommending appropriate project management responses to guide implementation.

We measure A and B activities of the Logical Framework at this step. (See the “design” tab to learn about Logical Frameworks.) Information on the achievement of activities is collected and analyzed regularly. We also measure progress toward outcomes through an annual monitoring process.

We value accountability and believe it’s critical to share the data and information we collect from a community with that community, as well as with local partners, governments, and donors.

Evaluation is an exercise that attempts to systematically and objectively assess relevance and performance — what’s working and what’s not working in ongoing and completed programs and projects.

We used mixed-methods to measure effectiveness both quantitatively and qualitatively through household surveys, child and caregiver interviews, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews.

A program evaluation is conducted every three to five years for our long-term community development programs, and every year to two years for our grant-funded projects, to measure change over time. Some evaluations go a step further and explore impact that is attempting to look for our contribution to the change that is being measured. Other evaluations also explore themes like sustainability to understand the extent to which positive outcomes can and are sustained over the long-term.

We measure C of the Logical Framework at this step.

Whether C improved or not shows whether our Theory of Change was right. Continuing with the Kenya example from the “design” tab: If malnutrition isn’t down after five years, then there is either something wrong with our Theory of Change, or something wrong with the way we implemented the activities. For example, maybe we didn’t do enough trainings with families on the importance of feeding their children instead of selling the food. Or, perhaps we did lots of trainings, but not in a way that was relevant or well received by the families.

This information is key both for those programs whose results met the expectation as well as those whose program results fell short. We use this information during our reflection process to consider how to improve our approach and interventions. See highlighted sections in the Leuk Daek Program Evaluation in our Evaluation Examples below.

Reflection is a participatory process of planning and putting time aside to bring partners and the community together with us to:

  • Analyze project and program evaluation information, including what is going well and what challenges are emerging.
  • Make informed decisions and recommendations about necessary changes in current projects and programs, which lead to transformation of the program, individuals and the organization.

It is critical that we are able to learn from our experience. Learning happens best in an atmosphere of trust and openness, where failures and challenges can be discussed constructively, and where there is enough time and dedication to reflection and learning activities with the community and local stakeholders.

This is where we look at the Program Evaluation findings for evidence of operational change. The findings from a Program Evaluation are then used to re-design the program throughout its lifetime. See highlighted sections in the Leuk Daek Re-Design Program Narrative in our Evaluation Examples below.

Transition refers to the process of World Vision ending its involvement in a shared project or program. We aim to assist communities in a way that empowers them to sustain program outcomes after our assistance has ended.

It is important that we end our involvement in a well-planned way, so that the benefits gained by communities and stakeholders can be continued into the future, after we have withdrawn. In order to end well, we need to work with communities and stakeholders to begin programs with the end in mind. A plan needs to be in place from the beginning of the program, showing how World Vision will phase out of the shared program in a way that promotes sustainability.

The decision to close a program can be made after reviewing evaluation findings, having community discussions, and making strategic considerations. This decision should be evidence based, and should only be made once the community feels confident that they have a plan to sustain the most important outcomes that have been achieved.

Throughout previous phases of the Critical Path, our role was to strengthen and empower local communities and stakeholders to take on increasing responsibility in planning and managing shared projects. In this way, transition of roles and responsibilities is not something that happens at the end of a program but is an integral part of our approach to working at the local level.

Evaluation Examples

Re-Design Program Narrative, 2013-2015

This document shows how our Theory of Change has been re-designed as a result of the Program Evaluation from 2011. This design will be implemented during 2013-2015, at which time it will be evaluated again for the next phase of the program. Scroll down to the highlighted portions to see some examples.

Program Evaluation, 2011

The the Program Evaluation is a robust document describing our methodology to design. But, if you scroll down to the highlighted text in the Methodology section, you’ll see some great information about program design, sampling size, focus groups, and interviews – all ways we gather feedback to see if our Theory of Change is working. This document from 2011 informed the re-designed which occured in 2012 for the Theory of Change to be implemented in our Re-Design Program Narrative for 2013-2015.