Step 2

Identify measurement and evaluation priorities

Why is this step important?

  • Helps you to prioritise the most important M&E requirements
  • Provides a clear understanding of who will use your M&E findings
  • Sets out the critical things you will use to measure the impact of your activities

What does this step involve?

  • Decide on your M&E objectives

  • Define the M&E audience

  • Identify impact measurement priorities and outcome indicators

  • Identify learning priorities

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tools and resources


  • M&E Priorities Form

  • Outcome Indicators

helpful resources

  • NPC's Four Pillar Approach

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Step 2 is about identifying the main priorities for your measurement and evaluation (M&E). This will enable you to focus your efforts on the things you will benefit from the most and ensure that your approach is appropriate for the scale and scope of your work.


In this step you will need to talk to stakeholders to decide on the most important outcomes that will show the impact of your work. You need to think about who will use the findings and what type of information they will require. Follow the steps below to work your way through Step 2.


Discuss and agree your M&E objectives with your key stakeholders. It’s useful to think about these objectives as questions that you want your M&E to help you answer. Once you know the key questions you want to answer, it is much easier to design an approach that will provide you with what you need.

You need to think about how measurement and evaluation can help you to:

  • show the impact of your work
  • learn and improve

Identifying the benefits that are most important to you will help you to define your M&E priorities. Here are some of the main benefits of conducting measurement and evaluation:

TIP: Work closely with your stakeholders on this and try to agree a few key priorities to focus on - don’t try to do too much.

Types of Evaluation

There are two broad types of evaluation: process evaluation and outcome/impact evaluation. Both of these are important in measuring and evaluating your project.

  • Process evaluation looks at how well the funding stream or project is being carried out and how it could be improved.
  • Outcome/impact evaluation looks at whether the project has achieved its objectives and produced the intended outcomes.

More detailed definitions can be viewed below:


Recommended Action
Write out your measurement and evaluation objectives in the ‘M&E Key Questions’ section of the M&E Priorities Form.

2. Define the M&E audience

Talk to project stakeholders about who the main users of any measurement and evaluation findings will be. You should think about:

  • what type of evidence they would want
  • what data or reports they would expect to receive
  • what they will do with the findings

Find out whether there are any specific things that you need to report on or provide to stakeholders. This might include:

  • progress reports
  • sharing data
  • updates at particular points in time (e.g. to inform important decisions)

TIP: Don’t forget to include your own team, organisation or colleagues when considering the measurement and evaluation audience for your project – a well conducted evaluation will help you improve what you do and help you to show the impact of your work to others.

Recommended Action
1. Write all of the potential audiences and users of your measurement and evaluation findings in the ‘M&E Users’ section of the M&E Priorities Form.

2. Write any particular requirements these users have specified in the ‘Reporting Requirements’ section of the M&E Priorities Form.

3. Identify impact measurement priorities and outcome indicators

Depending on how many outcomes you identified for your project or funding stream (see Step 1), you may not be able to measure them all. In this case think about:

  • which outcomes are most relevant and important for you to measure
  • which outcomes you can reasonably expect to influence the most

You need to define and agree a set of outcome indicators with stakeholders – these are things that you can measure over time that will show progress towards your intended outcomes and which you can use as evidence of impact. Outcome indicators should be:

  • directly related to the outcome you are trying to achieve
  • something that you can measure accurately using either qualitative or quantitative methods
  • something that will be useful for informing decision making

Here are some examples of outcome indicators:

Improve job prospects of out of work 16-24 year olds

- % in employment, education or training
- # of interviews attended in last 4 weeks

Increase older female membership at local sports clubs

- # of new female club members each month
- % of all club members who are 55+ females

Improve tailored local sports provision for BME males

 - # of weekly sessions targeting BAME males
- % BME males who rate local provision as 'good/excellent'

Setting out your planned outcomes in an ‘Outcomes Hierarchy’ (see below) can help you to identify the best indicators to use to measure the impact of your funding stream or project. This will help you to think about what realistic things you can measure in the short term that will provide evidence of progress towards your broader, long-term objectives or 'primary outcomes'.

You can download the 'Outcomes Hierarchy' template via the links on the right, or view a completed example by downloading one of our case studies.

You may decide or be required to have targets for one or more of your outcome indicators (sometimes called Key Performance Indicators – KPIs) that you aim to achieve within a set time. 

TIP: A good target:

  • is realistic and achievable
  • considers past performance as well as future aspirations/forecasts
  • has a clear ‘line of sight’ to the outcomes and does not distract from them
  • is agreed with and owned by the people who will be responsible for its achievement

Recommended Action
1. Use the Outcomes Hierarchy template and the guidance in this section to create your own Outcomes Hierarchy

2. Write your chosen indicators in the ‘Outcome Indicators’ section of the M&E Priorities Form.

4. Identify learning priorities

Think about the most important things that you want to learn from the delivery of your project and how you might collect the data that will give you this information. This might include:

  • how your team / organisation could improve how you engage participants and deliver services
  • where problems have occurred – and how to avoid them in future
  • what worked well and what worked less well
  • if an untested approach has worked and how it could be improved in future

You should focus on filling gaps in what you already know about the approach being used, as that can help you to improve how similar funding streams and projects are developed and implemented in future.

Recommended Action
Write the priorities you have identified in the ‘Learning Priorities’ section of the M&E Priorities Form.

TIP: Before you move on, refer back to the M&E objectives you set out at the start of this section. Check to make sure that your outcome indicators and the learning priorities you have identified will achieve your M&E objectives. If you’re happy that they do, you’re ready to move on to the next step.


Framework overview