An indicator is a unit or element that allows us to measure whether the intervention is producing the desired changes.  Indicators signal change. They are always approximations.  An indicator is different from a measure.  When the desired change is concrete, tangible and measurable indicators are not needed.  For example, if an education program output is 300 manuals we simply count them.  However, if we want to measure changes in student learning or performance then we need to use indicators to measure this.


Two main types of indicators are process and outcome indicators.


Process indicators

Process indicators measure to what extent an organization is implementing the activities it said it would implement, to what degree the organization is reaching the target audience and to what degree beneficiaries are participating in the project activities.  Examples of process indicators include:

¨     Number of workshops offered

¨     Number of participants attending a workshop

¨     % of target group reached


Note: many organizations often only report process indicators.  While these are important to measure in order to know whether an organization is implementing a project successfully, it is vital to also measure outcomes to know whether the intervention is having the intended effect or not.



Outcome indicators

Outcome indicators measure changes in target audience in whatever area your intervention is focusing on.  Typically outcome indicators measure changes in knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors.

Examples of outcome indicators include:

¨     % of trained teachers using participatory class methods in their classroom

¨     Number of mothers introducing vegetables into their children’s diets

¨     Number of students reading library books on their own


How will you determine whether your intervention is successful?

It is not enough to measure project outcomes.  It is also key to be able to make comparisons that will help us understand to what extent the project is successful.  Project outcomes can be compared to:

¨     Previous program outcomes

¨     Outcomes of a control group

¨     Outcomes from similar projects reported in the literature


Many projects start by creating a baseline in order to make comparisons after the project concludes.