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The Logical Framework Approach for Better Projects

Creative planning solutions may come from anywhere or from any level of an organization. The US Agency of International Development’s planning and evaluation system, called the Logical Framework Approach (LFA), puts those creative insights into a structured and manageable framework. A paper by EURIDA Research Management elucidates the values of an analytical process that uses interlocking, iterative, and systematic tools to create the project structure you need.

Thinking Inside the Box

The LFA begins with a problem / situation analysis, wherein cause and effect relationships are mapped and visualized for better understanding. The LFA takes into account the unique experiences of each stakeholder as well, with the different aspects of analysis–stakeholder, problem, strategy–being layered into what amounts to a three-dimensional project framework called the Logical Framework Matrix, or Logframe matrix. The Logframe format is at the heart of LFA, and is used for presenting the results of your analysis. It consists of sixteen “boxes,” not all of which need be filled in with the logic of your pursuits.

Often missing in other approaches, the LFA brings transparency, stakeholder participation, flexibility to changing conditions, consistency, and objectivity to the project management discipline. The EURIDA paper characterizes it as equal parts art and science, a series of tools that recognize the complex and often political nature of most projects, one that handles projects with creativity and finesse.

Matrix Lack

The EURIDA paper acknowledges that no approach or methodology is perfect or without limitations. The LFA is no different, and those who use it must be wary of the “fill in the box” approach:

One improper use of the LFA is that often only a matrix is drawn up, and the matrix is drawn up after the project has already been designed. In this case the LFA is not used to guide the whole project design process. Instead, only the format used to summarise the findings of the LFA process is applied to describe a pre-existing design, rather than create a logically solid one.

Some criticize the Logframe matrix as being too simplistic, a possible misinterpretation of its intent as a “lack frame” approach, a summary of what is missing rather than a summary of key project aspects. Despite these shortcomings, the approach has seen use in project management circles at the international level.

Learn more about the LFA at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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