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  • Writer's pictureKevin Chang

Improving Projects Through Results-Based Management

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

After completing a project, it’s natural to reflect and at times realize some tasks seemed good at the time, but didn't produce the desired results. Results Based Management (RBM) may seem simple, self-explanatory, and obvious: of course you want projects to be managed with the intended results in mind. But assuming everyone involved has the same vision and that the deliverables will necessarily lead to it won’t always work. At Kai Analytics, we are always trying to learn and grow to bring our clients better services, and that means participating in training that highlights new and improved methods for managing projects.

This January 2023, I had the amazing opportunity to take Spur Change’s course, Results-Based Management 201, after British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) recommended it. I am grateful I decided to take part in this opportunity and know that I will use the knowledge well.

What is Results-Based Management (RBM)?

Results-Based Management (RBM) is an approach that focuses on how each component of the project will affect the outcomes and greater intended impact (i.e., both short-term and long-term goals). RBM holistically reviews many different components of the project, including but not limited to what people and resources are involved in the project, what strategies are being implemented, and how to be transparent and accountable to stakeholders.

RBM and Inclusion

One of the core aspects of the RBM 201 course is inclusion—establishing ways to allow everyone to share their voice, especially marginalized individuals. Everyone comes to a project with their own biases and ideas about how work should be completed, and those biases can include prejudices that affect who gets to influence a project. This often excludes marginalized individuals or minimizes their visibility, which means the end results often do not benefit them, even if that wasn’t the intention of the project managers. RBM is focused on changing that everyone gets a say in how the project is run, negotiating beforehand how the work will be carried out so everyone benefits.

RBM and Global Affairs Canada

Global Affairs Canada(GAC) uses RBM in their processes and promotes it as a helpful tool for businesses and organizations to succeed. RBM can be extremely helpful for grant applications and processes, both because it shows that the project being funded will likely be carried out and because it shows a positive step towards inclusivity. RBM can also demonstrate a holistic attitude—if someone is familiar with RBM, then they might have a greater awareness of how their actions and deliverables during the project will affect the big picture, which may allow them to have a more flexible mindset.

Theories of Change and Logic Models

SPUR Change's RBM 201describes a mechanism by which project managers can map out the path resulting from their tasks to ensure they’re heading in the right direction. After consulting all stakeholders, a manager can come up with a theory of change to describe the underlying assumptions of the project and then test it with a logic model.

A theory of change is a hypothetical statement covering how and why we expect a change to happen based on our efforts. A logic model, or results chain, is a set of steps that helps determine whether that theory of change holds up. This process takes into account all inputs and outputs of the project and what effect will be. Logic models have three or four underlying flows from ultimate outcomes, to intermediate outcomes, to immediate outcomes and outputs.

A line of boxes and arrows show how inputs, activities, and outputs lead to immediate (short-term), intermediate (medium-term), and ultimate (long-term) outcomes.
An example of a logic model (also known as a results chain) from Global Affairs Canada.

Why Use a Results-Based Management Approach?

Results-Based Management encourages everyone involved to ask each other questions about the relationship between different elements of a project, like:

  • What will happen when we take each step?

  • How will we respond to the consequences of our approach, both good and bad?

  • What impact will the project have, and how can we know that ahead of time?

As a data analytics company, we understand that it’s very easy for individuals to approach a project with their own vision based on their experiences which, although often fantastic, can vary widely from what a data-driven approach would support. Data can sometimes be surprising, and the actual implications of a project can lead to unexpected results that could have a completely different impact from what was intended. That’s why we’re glad to take any chance we can to ensure are tied to evidence—that way, we can always be prepared for surprises

To learn more about the Theory of Change, please visit: How Does Theory of Change Work? - Theory of Change Community

If you’re part of a small or medium enterprise in Canada and your work relates to global development, you can take the first level of SPUR Change’s results-based management course for free.


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