Performance measurement is the process used to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of projects, programs and initiatives. It is a systematic approach to collecting, analyzing and evaluating how “on track” a project/program is to achieve its desired outcomes, goals and objectives.

Performance measurement is typically done by an organization to demonstrate accountability, support decision making and improve processes. Note that It is not an approach that prescribes what must be measured; organizations need to develop their own performance measures based on their project plans and situation.

Performance measurement should be treated as an integral part of any planning process from the outset and should be built into any plan or project that has clear goals and objectives.

Performance measures provide the information to assist in making strategic decisions about what an organization does and how it performs. Performance measurement frameworks are flexible and can be used to measure the effectiveness of a pilot project, a multi-year program or a strategic planning process and can be applied to a new or existing initiative.

Benefits of performance measures

The benefits of measuring performance are numerous and range from measuring the effectiveness of a single project to contributing to a culture of continuous improvement throughout an organization.

Using performance measures on a regular basis helps to inform decisions and means a plan can be adjusted mid-course or priorities can be reset to take advantage of emerging opportunities. An internal performance measurement system will drive results and enable an organization to learn from its successes and failures.

Other benefits of performance measures include:

  • Creates “buy-in” through stakeholders setting targets and goals together.
  • Develops “best practices” and “lessons learned” that can be applied to future initiatives.
  • Increases accountability by demonstrating the effectiveness and value of plans and activities in achieving desired goals/outcomes.
  • Informs decision-making including budgeting and resource allocation in an environment where there may be competition over limited resources.
  • Helps to demonstrate and document changes over time.
  • Helps to communicate an organization’s story.
  • Develops relationships through engaging stakeholders and building a common understanding of the process.

What is a performance measurement framework?

A performance measurement framework identifies the indicators required to monitor and gauge the performance of a program. Its purpose is to:

  • identify measures
  • methodology for connection and analysis
  • roles and responsibilities
  • reporting by using a logic model

A performance measurement framework supports program managers in:

  • continuously monitoring and assessing the results of programs as well as the efficiency of their management
  • making informed decisions and taking appropriate, timely action with respect to programs
  • providing effective and relevant departmental reporting on programs
  • ensuring that the information gathered will effectively support an evaluation

There is no one method for developing a performance measurement framework.

One place to start is to review the organization’s strategic plan, with a focus on identifying its outcomes (what it is trying to accomplish.)

If there is no strategic plan, a framework can be developed for an individual project.

Challenges and solutions of measuring performance

There are several real and perceived challenges regarding the use of performance measures identified in the following table:



Results may not be achieved for many years

Communicate how the plan will make a difference through benchmarks, milestones and targets over time (i.e., define short and medium-term steps to accomplish the long-term outcome goals.

Ensure that performance information drives continuous improvement. If something isn’t working emphasize an opportunity to fix it.

Too complicated – no one really understands how any of the pieces fit together

Communicate the purpose of performance measurement; make sure the right outcomes and the right measures are chosen.

Design critical and thoughtful dashboards to communicate important results and present them in a way that they are easy to understand.

Encourage stakeholder participation from the beginning of the process so they understand the efforts being made to achieve results.

Too unflattering – performance metrics will tell a sad story and that it is a judgment on the effectiveness of an organization or a staff person

Articulate the difference between performance measurement and performance management; this is the evaluation of tactics, not individuals.

Create gap resolutions – describe what happened and how the organization can be proactive in addressing it.

Too resource heavy - a costly undertaking for which few, if any, resources are allocated

Articulate what resources are being dedicated (time, staff, efforts).

Identify the connection between those resources and this process. If you are not monitoring, you could spend a lot of resources on something that may not be successful.

Lack of confidence in the data - data is either unavailable or inaccurate or the data available is not being shared

Train and educate stakeholders in the data collection and analysis process.

Pick the “right” measures – those measures that make sense and have been agreed upon by stakeholders.

It is just a report that gathers dust on a shelf

Embed performance measurement into organizational culture.

Recruit and engage senior leadership in performance measurement – they can help to create buy-in to affect a culture change.

Establish when results will be measured and how they will be communicated.


This guide takes a systematic four-stage approach to developing a performance measurement framework.

A circle split into 4 sections showing the stages of the performance measurement framework. Stage 1: Prepare for performance measures. Stage 2: Identify outcomes. Stage 3: Create performance measures. Stage 4: Collect, analyze, communicate results.

Throughout this manual, key terminology is defined in relevant section. For a full list of terminology used or referenced in this manual, please refer to Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms.

Stage I - prepare for measuring performance

In this stage, activities will be undertaken to set the foundation for putting a performance measurement framework in place. This means establishing a team and identifying and engaging stakeholders. This stage will clarify:

  • Where your organization is at
  • Where your organization want to go

Stage II - identify outcomes using a logic model

In this stage, the problem that needs to be addressed will be identified along with the desired outcomes. Stage II will further explain the concept of outcomes and why they are important. Finally, the concept and benefits of a logic model and description of how attribution relates to the outcomes in the logic model will be introduced.

A flowchart that links inputs, activities, and outputs to outcomes in a logic model. It uses non-technical language to describe the components of a logic model.

Stage III - create performance measures

This stage discusses the types of performance measures that can be used, and the importance of having measures throughout the logic model (although for this guide, the focus will be on creating measures for outputs and outcomes.) Stage III also includes the four-step process used to create performance measures (brainstorm, assess, shortlist and document).

Stage IV - collect, analyze and communicate the results

This stage discusses how a well-developed performance measurement framework will help to tell a convincing story about the results of a strategy, backed by quantitative and qualitative evidence.

There are three parts to Stage IV:

  • determining effective ways to collect and analyze data
  • how to report and communicate results
  • how to use the information gathered to improve a strategy/initiative

Bringing all 4 stages together, the resource will explore the following subjects in each of the respective sections.

A circle split into 4 stages of performance measurement framework. Stage 1: Assess, teamwork, decide. Stage 2: Outcomes, logic model, attribution. Stage 3: Brainstorm, assess quality, create shortcuts, define/document, set targets. Stage 4: Collect and analyze data, communicate results, what to look for in results.

Performance measurement: an exercise in storytelling

A well-developed performance measurement framework allows the telling of a convincing story, using credible evidence about the outcomes of a project. The framework should align with these three elements:

  1. What does your organization want to achieve, where do they want to make a difference, and what are the desired outcomes?
  2. What steps does your organization need to take to achieve its objectives?
  3. How will your organization know that its plan is on track to achieve its objectives and reach its desired outcomes?

The narrative created needs to be compelling, easy to understand and backed up using solid evidence and plausible assumptions from the performance measures created. If this is achieved, the plan will be defensible, and others will be convinced that it is a good investment.

Involve your leadership

Engage the leaders of the organization at the start of the process to ensure their support for the framework. Engaged leaders are more likely to provide the team with the required resources needed to help maintain the momentum throughout the process. Having a strong champion in the executive office can be a major factor for success.