Knowledge Bank

Outcome Mapping

November 30, -0001, Evaluation Observatory

"...being attentive along the journey is as important as, and critical to, arriving at a destination Michael Quinn Paton in Earl et al., n.d. on the significance of outcome mapping for program evaluation."

Image Source: Geske, J. “Starting with Outcome Mapping (episode 2). Amazing Outcomes. Medium. 11 November 2019

"A research team in Kenya is seeking to improve crop yields by identifying appropriate and ecologically sound agronomic practices for use on small family farms. Practitioners seek to identify changes in farmer behaviour - before, during and after the project. Therefore, they need to collect data on farmer behaviour to assess progress, to identify ways to improve project performance and to report on the results achieved (see Smutylo, 2001 for more details)."

In such scenario, Outcome Mapping can be an effective tool to achieve desired objectives.

International Development can be highly complex, and changes can be multi-directional, often occurring before or after a program ends. Often outcomes in projects interact and influence one another, and causal factors cannot be isolated. This makes it difficult to attribute changes to specific program components, or even draw comparisons across different initiatives.

Developed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Outcome mapping (OM) is a still evolving methodology for planning, monitoring and evaluating development initiatives that aim to bring about social change. It is based on the premise, that for "each change in state there are correlating changes in behavior that are best encouraged if continuing responsibility has been devolved to local people and local institutions" (Serrat, 2008).

In OM, Development results or outcomes are viewed in terms of changes in behaviour, actions or relationships influenced by the team or the program. The performance of the program is defined as the program's contribution to influencing those changes. This is why, OM is considered most useful in program contexts where the success of the program depends on key behavioural changes, and it is here its key innovation lies.

The process of OM helps specify the actors the program seeks to target, the changes it expects to see and the strategies it employs - helping improve program efficiency (Smutylo, 2005)

Three stages of outcome mapping.Taken from Sumtylo et al,2001,p.4

OM has three stages (Serrat, 2008):

Intentional Design: A planning stage where practitioners reach a consensus on broad changes it would like to achieve, and plan the strategies to be used accordingly.

Outcome and Performance Monitoring: A stage providing the framework to track the progress made towards outcomes. It builds on progress markers, strategy maps and organizational practices made during the intentional design stage using information collection tools - an outcome, strategy and performance journal – to create the necessary work-space and processes for adequate reflection on performance improvement.

Evaluation Planning: A stage outlining the main evaluation elements and prioritising them to target evaluation resources and activities to ensure they are most beneficial.


Outcome Mapping, Evaluation, International Development, Programs, Planning, Monitoring, Social Change, Outcomes, Behavior Change, Learning, M&E, Development Programs, Research.

List of recommended resources:

For a broad overview

  • Published by Asian Development Bank, this five-pager provides the rationale for outcome mapping, defines outcome mapping terms and explains the various stages involved in it.

  • Published by Outcome Mapping Learning Community, this website provides a practitioner’s guide to OM. It explains: What is OM and how has it evolved?, Preparing to use OM, The three stages of OM, Using OM with other PM&E tools and approaches, facilitating OM workshops and its use in specific program and contexts. You can view this this webinar by the OM community on how to use this online guide, and what you can find there.


For in depth understanding

Case Study


  • Produced by IDRC’s Evaluation Unit, these FAQS guides practitioners in determining the utility of outcome mapping in their contexts

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