Shea Butter Extraction, Ghana. Photo: © Jonathan Ernst/World Bank
Driving Forward Results Measurementin Private Sector Development
There is still relatively little rigorous evidence available for the effectiveness of many private sector development (PSD) programs and strategies. Private sector development (PSD) practitioners are facing increasing pressure from donors to rigorously monitor and report their results, often by applying approaches with these they are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Measuring the results of PSD programming is a challenging endeavour. Developing a clear results chain, establishing attribution and considering displacement are among the many issues that challenge implementing agencies. Although there are a number of interesting publications that have emerged on how to address these issues, practitioners have lacked access to a common set of guidelines to structure their approach to results measurement. As a result, too many practitioners and implementing agencies are forced to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in developing their own agency-specific practices and guidelines. The consequences are a lack of consistency and, in certain cases, less than credible systems of results measurement. The consequences of this decision are not only that less evidence is available to support the case for private sector development but also that implementation suffers as results measurement fails to fulfill its purpose to deliver relevant, reliable and timely information to project managers.
In response to these issues, the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) has established an international Standard to respond to these gaps in current practice and guide results measurement, called the DCED Standard. Currently in version V, the Standard provides an open access standard that implementing agencies can use in their internal systems. In order to create transparency and reward agencies using rigorous results measurement systems, projects complying with the Standard that pass an external audit are certified as DCED compliant.
An increasing number of projects in Asia and Africa are working towards certification, while many more are applying aspects of the Standard. Reports from users thus far suggest that the Standard can be applied to various types of private sector development projects and that it has a strong impact not only on the quality of results measurement but also on project implementation. The Standard allows practitioners to proactively respond to the push for more rigorous results measurement by clearly articulating the logic of each project intervention and how activities will lead to results. This produces a number of benefits, such as enabling more clear communication of project strategy among staff and to partners. Validating an intervention’s logic in real time can make programmes more effective, as you can quickly test the assumptions that underlie your interventions. A number of case studies on the application of the Standard are available here.
Our session at SEEP will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn more about the Standard and how they could apply it to their own projects. It promises to be very interactive, offering participants the chance to tackle some of these key issues themselves.