We observe an interesting phenomena that many publications and training courses refer to Project or Programme Cycle Management (PCM) while these actually describe the Logical Framework Analysis or Approach (LFA).
* Project / Programme Cycle Management (PCM) is a management method introduced by the European Commission (1992) for the identification, formulation (appraisal), implementation and evaluation of projects and programmes.
It aims at assuring quality through a consistent approach to all phases of the intervention cycle, ensuring beneficiary-orientation (relevance), a comprehensive perspective on interventions (feasibility and sustainability) and effective monitoring and evaluation.
The key instruments for PCM are the Terms of Reference (ToR) to launch specific phases and the Quality Appraisal or assessment techniques used after each phase. ToR instructs the use of LFA (and not PCM) while the Quality Appraisal technique checks whether all the required information is available and the right participatory processes have been used.
* The fundamental tool of PCM is the LFA method (Logical Framework Analysis). LFA is step-by-step procedure applying specific techniques in a participatory workshop setting for creating ownership among stakeholders, better focus on beneficiaries, realistic and measurable result-oriented objectives, quick decision-making, transparency of proposals and reporting, and easier management, monitoring and evaluation during the implementation of projects and programmes.
The key strength of LFA is that when well facilitated it enables effective communication in a structured way, thereby stimulating each stakeholder’s input. Visualisation techniques are used to anchor the issues discussed and decisions made.
The LFA technique also offers a framework within which alterations can be made, depending on the type of project or programme, the phase in the project cycle and the complexity of the issues to be resolved between the stakeholders.
LFA process provides information on:
- WHO (for and by who: end-users & institutions),
- WHY (which problems in which context – ‘relevance’),
- WHAT (will be done and achieved under which assumptions – ‘feasibility’) and
- WHAT NOT (the ASSUMPTIONS and RISKS that influence the achievement of Results) and the
- HOW (will it be done: Capacity Building – ‘sustainability’).
LFA is an analysis and planning tool to generate clarity, information and commitment among stakeholders and which takes place ‘in the field’, while PCM is a Quality Assurance management system to instruct and check whether such clarity, information and commitment is available and which takes place ‘in the office’.
We believe that confusion between the two has led to training desk officers the wrong tool ! Although courses are referred to as PCM training, the actual training deals with LFA as an analysis and planning instrument. However desk officers are not supposed to plan projects and formulate proposals …