Introducing the Logical Framework in Project Planning–Part 1


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning.    The third chapter of his book is called “Introducing the Logical Framework”; it takes the Four Critical Strategic Questions discussed in chapter 2, and shows they are captured visually in the Logical Framework or LogFrame.   The first part of this chapter discusses the first Critical Strategic Question.

1.  What Are We Trying to Accomplish and Why?

Remember from Chapter 2 that the “What” question describes the Outcomes of the project, that is, what the product, service, or result that the project is trying to accomplish.     The “business case” of the project is where you take the “product scope description”, another name for the Objectives of the Project, and tie it together to two other elements, the “business need” and the “strategic plan”.

The “business need” is the first level of the “why” of the project.    What need is the product, which the project will produce, going to fulfill out there in the marketplace?   In the language of LogFrame, this is referred as the Purpose of the project.    Most of the time, the business need is external to the organization:   the product is something that is needed somewhere out in the marketplace.    However, there are cases where the product will be used within the organization itself.    In a Six Sigma project, for example, the result will be an improvement to an already existing process used within the organization.    Because of the recognition of the importance of Six Sigma projects, the definition of a project in the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK© has changed in the 5th edition to include a temporary endeavor that creates a unique product, service, or result, or an improvement to an existing product, service, or result.

The “strategic plan”, however, is always internal to the organization, and is the second level of the “why” of the project.   If the product, which the project will produce, ends up fulfilling the business need in the marketplace, then the organization will bring in revenue and hopefully make a profit.    It is this profit motive which forms the strategic Goal of the project, using LogFrame language.

3.  The First Critical Strategic Question and the LogFrame Matrix

How is the answer to the first Critical Strategic Question “What Are We Trying to Accomplish and Why?” depicted visually in the LogFrame Matrix?    In the following way:

Goal

Purpose

Outcomes

Notice that the if-then statements that connect the Outcomes, Purpose, and Goal are read from the bottom up.   In other words:

  • if the project is completed with the stated Outcomes, then it will fulfill the business need or purpose of the project
  • if the purpose of the project is fulfilled, then it will accomplish the strategic goal of the organization.

4.  Conclusion

The LogFrame matrix is just a visual way of representing the linkages between the answers to the four Critical Strategic Questions.     The answers to the first Critical Strategic Question fill the top three boxes of the first column of the LogFrame matrix.

The next post will cover the answers to the second Critical Strategic Question and where they are placed in the LogFrame matrix.

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