It appears that still quite some confusion exists about the LFA. Therefore I post this clarification here.
The LFA method (Logical Framework Analysis) is the fundamental tool of Project Cycle Management (PCM) and Results-Based Management (RBM).
LFA is step-by-step procedure applying specific techniques in a participatory workshop setting for gathering a thorough picture of a problematic situation as perceived from different perspectives (stakeholders). We call that picture the ‘ANCHOR’ of the project, which will reflect the RELEVANCE of a possible intervention addressing those problems.
Dealing with relevant issues will create ownership among stakeholders and the LFA procedure is geared to assure a better focus on beneficiaries and realistic and measurable result-oriented objectives, which facilitates 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 the LFA is that when WELL FACILITATED it enables effective communication among stakeholders in a structured way, thereby stimulating the contributions from each end-users and stakeholder.
Visualization techniques are used to anchor the issues discussed and decisions made.
The Logical Framework MATRIX, 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.
The LFA PROCESS provides information on:
1 = WHO (for who and by whom: end-users & implementing & supporting public and private institutions and organisations),
2 = WHY (which problems in which context – ‘RELEVANCE’),
3 = WHAT and WHAT NOT …. (will be done and achieved under which assumptions – ‘FEASIBILITY’) in the form of a MATRIX and
4 = HOW (will the implementing agencies organize the implementation: Capacity Building – ‘SUSTAINABILITY’) in the form of a (different) MATRIX.
Project Proposals and Reports should be structured along the lines of these 4 categories.
LFA is an Analysis and Planning instrument or procedure to generate clarity, information and commitment among stakeholders and which takes place ‘in the field’, while PCM and RBM are a Quality Assurance management system to instruct and check whether such clarity, information and commitment is available in the different phases of the project cycle and which takes place ‘in the office of an organization or donor managing several projects’.
If you like to learn the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this approach do join one of our trainings ….
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Tony Little says
It has been a while since I facilitated a planning workshop as I tend to be more involved in project implementation these last few years. What I see as an implementer is that the project proposal (i.e. the terms of reference published) is frequently so out of date (for the EU this can be as many as three years after the initial project idea) and the donor so reluctant to make significant changes when they have been identified in the Inception Phase, that the beneficiaries are in a real sense, no longer interested.
This tests to the limit the whole concept of a “Participatory” process. I see this most often in accession states who, it seems to me, are being shoe-horned into project proposals that are designed by a third party, and based on semi-relevant inputs.
My reflection on this is that these experiences confirm in practical and startling clarity the need for properly facilitated processes for the design of projects, and for the stakeholders (all of them) to understand and participate in an open and honest way.
LFA is still an important tool for designing relevant and sustainable projects, but only if there is a real commitment. It would do everyone involved in any aid programme to reflect back on the basic issues identified in the article and recommit to doing it right!
• Christel Steinvorth
I always thought it was a good process! The problem was most people did not really carry it out properly and thus blamed the tool instead of their performance regarding how to implement it.
• Benoit Piret
Indeed, the new buzz word nowadays is “theory of change” … essentially the same thing as LFA, only pretending to remove the so-called simplistic linearity of the LFA. Shouldn’t the key principle be the progressive elaboration of the work plan and its adaptation to the changes in the environment, as we go along, with a continuous verification of the “business case”?
• Luc Langouche
Reposting a 13 days old comment: “Theory of change is the new fat. Now awaiting for the next one to come…More seriously: it’s an interesting and marketable labelling of the old dusty art of focusing towards excellence in a changing environment…” thus LFA in a changing environment and conditions (I would not write “progress” because of its ambiguous meaning… )
• Erik Kijne
Interesting that Benoit considers ToC to remove the so-called simplistic linearity of the LFA … Sorry Benoit, but if anything is true about the difference between the two approaches is is NOT that ToC is less simplistic and linear. I think the opposite is the case.
I do agree though with the second part of your comment … to have a plan as a ‘living tool’ that constantly should be verified and modified if needed.
• Jan Hestetræet
I have had my eyes on LFA, since my days with the UN, finally learning moderation and involvement of stakeholders through a moderation course, some 12-13 years ago. And later, I have held som 2-300 workshops, using the method.
The problem about LFA is to sell the time consumption of the analysis (first time), to people or groups, occupied and busy in everyday work-life.
It is necessary to ease participants into trying to be part of a session, and later I can observe the participants taking ownership. We are moving towards solid results.
LFA never fails. It is basically bulletproof, going into any detail, any segment and any problem. Using a good moderator, presenting results without time loss (electronic results), the proces-owners will take ownership where they should.
LFA will not leave my tool-box – but I hope to develop my use, even more.
• Hyrisha ILJAZI
LFA aims to present information about the key components of a project in a clear, concise, logical and systematic way.
• Solomon kebede @ Christel Steinvorth:
if most people don’t do it right, do you think it is a good approach? If we think LFA should work through out the world, there should be an easy way of doing it. It is highly dependent on the skilled moderators and do you think we will get one for all the needs? for me it is easy to practice PCM: due to a its huge focus on the program manager.
• Ivana Prikratki, PMP
The LFA is a great tool when used properly, but a “torcher device” when used pro forma. The LFA and PCM is a must for most of the project financed by the EU. I’m working with this tool now for 10 years and by now I can easily say that it comes to me like breathing. But, I see a lot of people struggle with this approach or, even worse, neglecting its importance. As well, from my experience, using a LFA to conduct analysis and planning activities on the project is something that my students, but also my partners have a lot of trouble when doing it for the first couple of times. But, if they are persistent, it becomes more and more easily and at the end the hard works pays of, because their projects are logically structured as well as easy to monitor, control and evaluate.
• Sylvestre Musengimana
Both clients/project managers and consultants need to have a common understanding on benefits of LFA and PCM. Once discussed and agreed upon, they will realize greater impact of the project interventions in the community they are serving!
Erik KIJNE says
Great to read so much support for the LFA as a Quality Instrument for Project Cycle Management and Results Based Management.
I think that the difficulty of properly applying LFA is mainly caused by the implications of the step-wise procedure to uproot information, knowledge and perceptions of a present problematic situation (of any kind) from the point of view of the different stakeholders (end-users (!) and implementing parties).
This requirement implies the need to invite those key stakeholders to share their often ‘hidden’ pains. A professional LFA facilitator can make them listen and better understand each other’s views in a safe environment, thus demonstrating the relevance and creating ownership of the project. Building the project further on this ‘ANCHOR’ or foundation is a necessity to create a QUALITY project that delivers relevant RESULTS that are appreciated and used by the end-users.
Erik Kijne says
The above described process can be used in STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT, PLANNING, DESIGN and FORMULATION, IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING and EVALUATION phases of the project cycle.
The desk officer / programme manager / portfolio manager / project cycle manager should themselves format the Terms of References of those phases according to the format / steps of the LFA and instruct at the same time to use the LFA Quality Assurance procedure (and facilitated participatory multi-stakeholder workshops) in the execution of those phases by consultants and Project Managers.
Very interested in LFA application in landscape regeneration approach to bushfire mitigation and a cross community and agency collaboration. Particularly working with experienced contracted facilitator as mentor.
List of experienced Australian practitioners would be very welcome.