Introduction to Planning

What is in this guide

  1. What do you use planning and evaluation for?
  2. Important things to know about planning and evaluation
  • Specific challenges non-profit organisations face with planning.
  • Common problems arising from ineffective approaches to planning.
  1. How to approach planning - Six key ways to ensure that planning is useful and contributes to effective results.
  2. How to plan - Eight Basic planning steps.

  1. What do you use planning and evaluation for?

Planning and evaluation are vital for organisations. Planning is a process of deciding in advance where we want to get to (our goal) and how we will get there. Evaluation enables us to assess how well we are doing and to learn from this.

This guide is written for non-profit organisations that play a developmental or service role. Planning and evaluation are particularly important for these organisations because they exist to make a significant contribution to society:

  • Planning helps us to decide what that contribution should be and how to achieve it.
  • Evaluation enables us to judge whether we have had the impact we planned, contributed to changing the situation we wanted to change and whether or not we achieved our goal.

Why is planning important?

  1. It helps us to identify our goals clearly. It makes us decide clearly and concretely what we need to do to have the effect on society that we want.
  2. It helps us make sure that we all understand our goal and what we need to do to reach it by involving everyone in the planning process.
  3. It makes us all work in a goal-oriented way rather than in a loose or ad-hoc way where we just respond to issues and crises with no clear plan or goal.
  4. Planning helps us see in advance those things that can help us achieve our goal and those things that can prevent us from achieving our goal and work out what to do about them.
  5. Planning helps us to be accountable for what we do.
  6. Planning helps us decide how best to use our resources (people, time, money, information, equipment) so that they make the most significant contribution to achieving our goal.
  7. Planning lays the basis for us to assess and evaluate our achievements effectively.

Why is evaluation important?

  1. Evaluation helps the whole organisation to identify how we could improve what we are achieving, take action to build on successes and avoid repeating failures.
  2. Effective evaluation enables us to use what we have learned from our experience to improve what we are achieving.
  1. Important things to know about planning and evaluation

The diagram above seems to make planning a simple question of working out how we get from where we are now to where we want to be. It seems as simple as using a road map to move from one place to another. That is fine if you know exactly where you are and where you want to be and you have a reliable map of the roads you must take to get there. If you have these things, an adequate means of transport and you use your map, you can simply set off. Although knowing where we are, where we need to be and how to get there are the basic things we need to know to plan effectively, planning for organisations that aim to promote development or deliver a service is seldom as easy as this.

  1. Specific challenges non-profit organisations face with planning – the context of planning

"The value of our contribution to society often relates to people, especially in the NGO sector. For example, the extent to which people acquire greater economic or political access to power; gain in confidence or awareness, or are enabled to struggle for rights, access or justice.”
(Olive Publications (1998), Ideas for a Change, Part 3.)

The following are specific challenges that most development or service organisations face that make careful planning and how we do our planning very important:

  • Complex goals for changing society, which are difficult to specify and measure exactly, or have different meanings for different stakeholders. If your goals are very broad and complex, as they often are with development work, it is often difficult to say in advance exactly what the desired future situation must look like. It is also difficult to say in advance what will definitely be needed to achieve it. Goals such as "gender equity", "sustainable community development" or even "effective and affordable health care" are examples.
  • Different or conflicting values and expectations among the different groups involved. For example, the community you serve may be expecting you to provide resources when your organisation is geared to assist communities to access the resources themselves. Or, if the goal is gender equity, for some this may mean more equal access to services for women but for others it may mean more equal power for women in society and it may be seen as threatening existing privilege or custom by still others.
  • Many different stakeholders that may have different needs, interests and concerns and therefore believe they have different priorities. For example, a civic organisation serving both established households and informal settlements may find the views of these groups are different about what should be prioritised.
  • Difficulties in measuring achievements. It is often difficult to find completely objective ways of measuring what has been achieved. It is often more important to look at "how well" rather then "how many" things were achieved. For example, we may be able to show that we have run 20 training courses but it is much more difficult to show that people are "empowered" or have the required "capacity" as a result. This means different people may have different views on what it means to achieve these goals effectively.
  • Non-profit organisations often need to give as much attention to choosing the best way (or the means) of achieving goals as to the goals (ends) themselves. These organisations often have goals that involve a positive change in society that benefits and empowers their target group in sustainable ways. This often means building capacity and commitment through involving target communities. It means giving attention to including groups that are not already powerful and articulate, and ensuring, by the way we do the work, that these groups have the capacity and power to take the work forward in sustainable ways.
  • The connection between the effectiveness of our services and the resources we get is weak or non-existent. If a business is producing things no one wants, we can usually expect that it will not make money and will eventually close down. The connection between resources to continue the work and how well we do it is far less clear with most other organisations. Because the purpose of non-profit organisations is to have a positive impact on society by assisting those in need, the direct users of their services often cannot afford to pay for them. Non-profit organisations usually get most of the money and other resources they need for their work from donors, government or volunteers, not from the direct users of the service. "Doing well" for development organisations does not guarantee an income and cannot be measured by income. Therefore, It is harder for development organisations to assess how well they are doing. However, non-profit organisations will still have to make the best possible use of scarce resources even though they do not face competition and the same pressures to reduce the costs that for-profit organisations face.
  • The success of our work often depends on other organisations or people. Non-profit organisations often can’t achieve effective results on their own. For example, NGOs doing education work rely on the learners being committed to the learning; civics rely on the community for support and commitment and on government to create an enabling environment for civic action; health educators rely on their target audience to act on their advice and on government programmes to support their work. Most non-profit organisations rely on donors in some way or another for resources. Many non-profit organisations also rely on the work of other non-profit organisations.
  1. Common problems arising from ineffective planning

These challenges often mean that the plans developed are not very useful and effective. The following are some of the common problems experienced:

  • People don’t all understand the plans in the same way and different views on the most useful approach keep coming up while we are trying to implement – confusion and conflict can result as people pull in different directions or have different views on basic strategic issues.
  • Different people have different perceptions of what successful achievement means – conflict, confusion and lack of accountability can result as differences emerge.
  • It is not clearly agreed who should mainly benefit from our work and whose needs, interests and concerns should be prioritised – this can mean that the interests of those who already have power and influence dominate instead of those whose power and influence over their own lives we hope to strengthen.
  • Things change and the plans no longer seem relevant – we abandon the plans and react in ad hoc and unstrategic ways to events or we stick to our plans and continue with what are now not very useful activities.
  • The difficulties we experience, arising from the complexity of our goals and the number of other groups and circumstances that can affect our success, lead to demoralisation and a sense of powerlessness to effect meaningful change.
  • We are not able to say what we have achieved, only what we have done.
  • Different understandings of why we adopted specific approaches and what we were intending to achieve mean that learning is limited – we can end up making excuses and blaming each other rather than using the lessons we have learned to improve our achievements.
  • All these problems can lead to a waste of precious resources needed to improve the lives of people and to weakening the confidence others have in our organisation.

The following guidelines are intended to help non-profit organisations to meet the challenges we face and to develop plans that effectively assist us to make a positive contribution to our society. There are two parts to the guidelines:

  • How to ensure planning is useful and contributes to effective results – an approach to planning. This section gives you ideas on how to approach planning and to avoid some of the common problems non-profit organisations experience. It outlines six issues related to the way we plan that are important for effective planning in non-profit organisations. If you need more information on how to achieve these six things effectively, just click on the overall heading or on each item for more detailed advice and suggestions. You will also be able to access an example at the end of this section.
  • How to plan – 8 basic planning steps. This section outlines eight basic steps that are useful in any kind of planning process. It also gives you ideas on how to prepare to plan and how to summarise your plan. If you want more advice on any or all of the steps, just click on the overall heading or each item for more detailed advice and information on how to do each step.
  1. How to ensure planning is useful and contributes to effective results

There are six main issues that are important to remember about how planning is done. These will help you make sure your planning meets the challenges outlined above, avoids common problems and that your plans are useful and effective.

You can click on the heading of part 3 or on any of the sub-headings in this section if you want to read more about the topic. This includes examples, practical ideas and more advice and guidance. You will find an example of the approach using an organisation we have called Molayezo at the end of this guide.

  1. Planning and evaluation must be participative. Everyone who must make a key contribution to the work of the organisation should be included. There are two key reasons for this. Firstly, it enables you to draw on different ideas and experience to make better decisions. Secondly, it allows you to build commitment to these decisions by including all those who will need to contribute to the successful implementation of the planning decisions. Participation will ensure that everyone fully understands the strategy and plans and are committed to achieving the decisions that have been made. You will need to identify and analyse all key stakeholders that can affect whether you achieve your purpose and decide whether and how they should be included.

click on the heading for information on how to ensure the right amount of involvement in the planning process. Guidance on how to do a stakeholder analysis is available in the section on Preparing to plan.

  1. Planning and evaluation must be systematic. You have to ensure you have thought through and agreed on all key issues before moving on to the next step. For example, you need to be clear about the results you intend to achieve before you start making decisions about what action you will take. Non-profit organisations exist to make a difference to society, not just to do things. Everything you do must be relevant to the results you intend to achieve. You may also sometimes need to move back to previous steps in the planning process, if the later planning suggests you need to rethink some earlier decisions. For example, you may realise that the action you would need to be able to take is not realistic. This may lead you to decide that you will have to alter your decisions about what results you can realistically expect to achieve. Effective planning seldom moves in one straight line but this does not mean it should not be systematic.

click here for information on how to plan systematically including an introduction to the Logical Framework Approach (LFA). The guidelines on how to achieve each of the basic planning steps outlined in the next section are based on this approach.

  1. All planning should be strategic. This means that you should use your planning processes to find the best ways of making a difference and the best approach to doing this. All possible alternatives should be examined, not just the ones we are comfortable with. Effective planning lays the basis for ongoing strategic thinking and action from everyone who will contribute to achieving your organisation’s purpose. All decisions and action and all use of resources need to make the most strategic contribution to achieving the purpose you have agreed on.

click on the heading for information on how to plan strategically including how to link organisational strategy to programme and project planning systematically using the Logical Framework Approach (LFA).

  1. Planning must include agreements about how and when you will evaluate progress and achievements. You will need to make decisions about what you will use to tell you if you are making progress or have achieved your purpose. You will also need to agree on where you will get the information and when you will evaluate, how and who should be involved.

click on the heading for information on how to plan for evaluation.

  1. Effective planning requires a major commitment from everyone in the organisation. Planning can take time; it can seem messy and frustrating. But, studies show that one of the key factors in effective planning is how committed the organisation and the people are to the planning process. A further key factor here is that enough time should be given to planning effectively – it will save you time later.

click on the heading for information about preparing to plan in order to ensure commitment to the planning process at the beginning of the basic planning steps.

  1. Planning and evaluation must be thought of as a cycle of learning and improvement, not a straight line from A to B. We must continually evaluate what we are achieving and use our learning to develop more effective ways of achieving our goals.

click on the heading for information about how to use the planning cycle for ongoing learning and improvement.

click here for an example of how Molayezo used this approach to planning. This example shows how they linked organisational strategy to programme and project planning. (The example is in a separate file )

  1. How to plan – 8 basic planning steps

This section outlines a basic planning process that may be used for many different kinds of planning – developing strategy, or programme and project planning. Section 3 above has outlined an approach, based on the Logical Framework Approach, which can help you ensure that your planning process is effective. This section uses this approach to suggest useful basic steps for planning and to provide advice on how to achieve each step effectively. The previous section should also help you adapt the basic planning steps to different kinds of planning (developing organisational strategy, programme plans or project plans).

More detailed advice on all steps is available if you click on the overall heading. You can also access advice on any specific step by clicking on the heading for that step. If the approach or some of the terms used are not clear, you might need to go back and look at some of the detailed guidelines linked to the approach explained in Section 3 above.

The basic planning steps

The following are the basic steps that are useful in almost any kind of planning process. This process should be used as part of the cycle of planning that enables ongoing learning and improvement. (See how to use the planning cycle for ongoing learning and improvement above.)

Each step is explained in more detail below.

click on the heading of this section to get the complete guide for how to use the basic planning steps. This is based on the approach outlined in the previous section. If you only want further advice on a particular step, ideas on how to tackle each of the steps are available if you click on the heading for each of the steps.

These steps can be adapted to use for specific planning purposes. Your decision about what kind of planning process you need will tell you how much time you must set aside, who should be involved, how and at what point. (See the guidelines on how to plan strategically for some ideas on different kinds of planning.)

Step 1 - Preparing to plan – ensuring commitment

It is important to prepare well for any planning process. As we noted in the detailed guidelines on the approach to planning in the section above, planning should not be seen as something you do before you start on the real work, but as part of " the real work" itself. It takes up time, energy and other resources. It plays a crucial role in laying the basis for effective ongoing thinking, action and achievement. We also noted that involvement and participation are of vital importance to effective planning processes. We need to prepare effectively for planning to ensure we get the kind of involvement and participation we need. We must actively build commitment to the planning process so that people are willing to give the time, energy and resources necessary for effective planning. One of the mistakes many non-profit organisations make is to underestimate the amount of time and commitment necessary for effective planning. This commitment will need to come from staff and all other stakeholders whose participation we decide is necessary to enable successful implementation and results.

  • The kinds of issues you need to discuss and decide here are:
  • What kind of planning do we need to do?
  • How much time should we give to each step?
  • How much time and other resources will we need for the whole planning process?
  • Do we need more information on past experience, achievements or the situation we are hoping to influence before we start the planning and, if so, who will get it, how will they get it, where and from whom?
  • Who are our key stakeholders (don’t forget the staff of your own organisation)?
  • How important is their involvement to the successful implementation of our plans? How important is it that each main stakeholder group understands and agrees to the planning decisions?
  • How important and/or influential is each main stakeholder group? Whose needs, interests and concerns should be prioritised in the planning process?
  • How useful or essential would their involvement be at each step in the planning process?
  • What kind of involvement will be adequate for each key stakeholder in each step of the process?
  • How will we get the commitment to the planning process we need from each key stakeholder?
  • How should each stakeholder be prepared so that they can participate effectively? What information will they need beforehand?
  • Do we need a planning committee or group to ensure the process runs smoothly?
  • When will the planning begin and what target dates should we set for the completion of each step?
  • Who will facilitate each session? Who will keep and circulate a record of our discussions? How soon after each step must the record be circulated?
  • What other tasks need to be done, by whom and by when (organising venues, food, transport etc)?
  • What other resources will we need (flip charts, overhead projectors, kokis, pens and paper, inputs, presstick, admin support for contacting people and circulating records of discussions etc)?

Once you have made these decisions, built a commitment to participate and prepared everyone who must participate to do so effectively, you are ready to start the actual planning process.

click on the heading for more information and ideas on how to prepare to plan and analyse stakeholder involvement. Also click on Planning and evaluation must be participative (above) for ideas on how to ensure the right amount of involvement in the planning process. Also click on how to plan systematically (above) for ideas and an example of what a systematic plan involves – this will help you understand what is involved in the planning steps and the kinds of issues you will need to consider. Click on how to plan strategically for an explanation of different kinds of planning (organisational strategy, programme and project planning).

Step 2 – Analyse the situation and needs

This step involves collecting and analysing information you will need to decide on a goal and a purpose that is:

  • Relevant to your target community;
  • Realistic in terms of what is possible and likely to make a difference; and
  • The most effective and appropriate contribution given the current situation you want to change.

You will need enough information to enable you to answer the following questions through careful analysis:

  • What are the major problems faced by our target community?
  • Which of these is the key or central problem or issue?
  • What are the causes and effects of this problem?
  • Can we realistically hope to make a significant contribution to addressing this problem?
  • How does this problem or issue affect our primary stakeholders? How do they see it? What are their concerns and interests in relation to the problem or issue?
  • Do key stakeholders stand to gain or lose from our taking up this problem or issue? How does this affect our work and planning?
  • What experience have we had so far that is relevant to this problem or issue and what can we learn from it?
  • What can our organisation realistically expect to achieve? What resources and capacity are available to us inside and outside our organisation? What does this mean for our planning?

This step in the planning process lays the basis for the rest of the planning process. The process of building a deeper understanding of the problem, the situation, and your organisation is important for both the staff of your organisation and your target community. It lays the basis for shared understanding, more effective decisions and a commitment to strategic action. You will draw on the thinking done at this step as the basis for your decisions in all the later steps.

In the next steps, you will make important decisions when you choose:

  1. Your goal – a clear statement of the long term change you would like to see. This is usually not something you can achieve alone, but is an important change that will improve the lives of your target community. This is the long-term goal your organisation decides it must contribute to bringing about. Clarifying this broad goal helps to keep the rest of your planning focused on what will make a real contribution to change, even if it is only a part of a bigger and longer-term change.
  2. Your purpose – your organisation’s contribution to the goal – this should be a clear statement of what your organisation commits itself to achieve. This must be something that will make an important contribution to the achievement of the goal. But, it must also be something your organisation can realistically achieve on its own.
  3. Your objectives – specific statements of what has to be achieved [results] by your organisation to reach the organisation’s purpose.
  4. Your activities – clear decisions about who will do what and by when in order to achieve each objective.

Each of these decisions builds on your earlier decisions, but all of them depend on how well you have done the analysis. The analysis helps you ensure that your goal, purpose, objectives and activities are relevant, useful and realistic.

The next step is to decide on a goal and purpose that is relevant to the needs of your target group but also realistic in the context. The needs analysis will assist you to ensure that this decision about the future situation you wish to bring about is based on a deeper understanding of the problem and its causes and effects.

click on the heading for more information and ideas on how to analyse the situation and needs. This includes advice on what a target community is; how to collect relevant and reliable information; analyse problems; analyse stakeholders in relation to the problem; and analyse your organisation.

Step 3 – Prioritise and select the Goal and Purpose

Deciding on a goal is important because this tells you what change in people’s lives you hope to contribute to bringing about. A goal is a clear statement of the future situation you would like to come about. Goals are usually longer-term aims that your organisation cannot hope to bring about alone but will make a significant contribution to helping bring about. They tell us why we do what we do. Goals are also the final basis on which you evaluate what you have achieved. When you are developing a strategy for your organisation, this is a very important strategic decision. It is the vision of what you would like to see that will guide everything else you do. All further programme or project planning must be relevant to helping bring this about.

Once we know what your goal is, you need to decide on the purpose of your organisation – why do we exist and what contribution will we make to achieving the goal? The purpose is a clear and concrete statement of what you undertake to achieve. The purpose should be something you can realistically achieve as a result of your work. Agreeing a purpose is making a clear commitment to achieving this result.

[If you are developing an organisational strategy, the purpose explains why your organisation exists, its mission. In programme or project plans, the purpose must state what that programme or project will achieve. This should be based on the overall strategic goal and purpose of the organisation as a whole as agreed in the organisation’s strategy.]

In this step you will use your needs analysis to decide:

  • What is the future situation you will contribute to bringing about? What is the most relevant goal? What is the most clear and concrete way of stating this goal?
  • What you can achieve (as an organisation, programme or project) that will make the most significant and useful contribution to achieving the goal you have agreed on? What is the most relevant but also most realistic purpose (for our organisation, programme or project)?
  • What external conditions will need to exist for you to achieve your goal and purpose? How important are these to your success. Can you influence them, and if so how (you will need to include this in your later planning)? If they are important, unlikely to come about but you can’t influence them, does this mean the goal and purpose are unrealistic?

It is important to remember that you are making choices when you decide on a goal and purpose. These choices need to be strategic (carefully selected from the alternatives as the most useful) as they will affect all of your further planning. They also need to be as clear as possible so that they are a record of agreement that can guide your further decisions and actions and be used as a basis for assessing what you are achieving. In the next step you will be deciding on clear specific objectives that will enable you to achieve your goal.

click the heading for more information and advice on how to choose and write a clear goal and purpose. If you need more information on the difference between a goal and a purpose, the meaning of external conditions or on the planning framework we are using, click on the heading Planning must be systematic above. If you need more information on the difference between organisational strategy, programme and project plans and how you can link them, click on Planning must be strategic above.

Step 4 – Develop Clear Specific Objectives

Objectives are concrete results you need to achieve in order to reach the purpose. Objectives should be as clear and specific as possible. They should state the result you aim to achieve, not what you will do to achieve it. This helps you to focus on what the effect of your work should be, not only on your activities. It also allows you to evaluate what was achieved in terms of changes in the real world, not just what you did. Objectives should be more specific and concrete than your purpose and should be relevant to achieving your purpose.

In this step you will use your needs analysis and your agreed goal and purpose to decide:

  • What specific results are needed to achieve your purpose? The needs analysis included an analysis of the causes and effects of the problem – do the causes you identified give you an idea of what must change in order to achieve your purpose? What objectives will we have to achieve to achieve the purpose?
  • Is it possible to make your objectives more specific by stating by when they should be achieved, who should benefit, how many or much must be achieved and how well?
  • Can you realistically achieve these results? If not, can you improve your capacity to achieve them by, for example, building alliances and improving your organisational capacity? Do you need to set objectives to take account of these things? (If you can’t improve your capacity to achieve the results that are necessary to achieve the purpose, you will need to go back and make the purpose more realistic.)
  • What external conditions will need to exist for you to achieve your objectives effectively? How likely are they to happen? Can you do anything to influence the situation so that these conditions exist? (You will need to include these things as either objectives or as part of your plans for implementing your strategy.) If they are important and unlikely to exist, but you can’t influence them, are your objectives realistic?

Once you have clear, specific and agreed objectives, you are ready to begin planning the actions you will take to achieve them. The goal, purpose and objectives are the foundations of this process. You will need to decide on the best strategy for achieving each objective.

click the heading for more information and advice on how to develop clear, specific objectives.

Step 5 – Identify Alternative Strategies and Select the Most Effective Strategy

This step involves trying to find the best way of achieving your objectives. Strategy is the choice we make about the best approach to getting something done. This is a very important step. It enables us to avoid just assuming that there is a right way of getting something done and forces us to look at alternatives that we may not have considered properly before. This is very important if you want to find new and more effective ways of doing things. Just doing things the way you always do them, may not be strategic. You won’t know unless you deliberately think of other options and test them out with open minds. The biggest mistakes and waste in development work are made by organisations that do not keep testing their thinking to come up with better and more relevant strategies.

In this step, you will use the deeper understanding of the problem and stakeholder needs developed in your needs analysis to decide:

  • What are the alternative ways you could use to achieve each objective?
  • What criteria will you use to assess each strategy (e.g. relevance, realistic etc) in order to choose the most effective and realistic alternative?
  • Based on these criteria, what is the most effective strategy for achieving each objective?
  • What external conditions will need to exist for you to effectively implement each strategy? How important are they to your strategy succeeding? How likely are they to happen? Can you do anything to influence the situation so that these conditions exist? (You will need to include these things as part of your strategy.) If they are important and unlikely to exist, but you can’t influence them, is your strategy realistic?
  • What resources will be needed? Is this realistic?

Once you have agreed realistic and effective strategies for achieving each of your objectives, you are ready to start planning to implement them by developing activity plans.

click on the heading for more information and advice on how to identify and alternative strategies and select the most effective strategy for achieving your objectives.

Step 6 – Plan implementation

This step involves detailed planning about how you will implement the strategies you have decided on.

You will use the decisions about the most effective strategy to achieve each objective to decide:

  • What major activities will be needed to implement each strategy?
  • Who will be responsible?
  • By when should activities by completed? What deadlines should be set?
  • What specific resources will be needed for the activities required to achieve each strategy?

You are now ready to finalise your plan by planning for evaluation. The plans you make in the next step about when you will evaluate, who will be involved and how you will collect the information you need, should then be added to the implementation plan you have just drawn up as part of the activities.

click on the heading for more information and advice on how to plan for implementation. This includes a form you can use to summarise your implementation plans.

Step 7 – Plan for evaluation

This step involves planning how you will evaluate your progress and what has been successfully achieved. This needs to be done at the planning stage so that it can guide implementation by ensuring a clear record of agreements about what successful achievement means. It helps to clarify the plans by making sure that everyone understands what you intend to achieve in the same way. It also ensures you have a clear and agreed basis for assessing what was actually achieved and your progress along the way. If you have followed the systematic approach to planning outlined in the earlier section, you will already have a very useful basis for monitoring your progress and evaluating your achievements.

In this step you will use your needs analysis and overall plan to finally decide:

  • What criteria or indicators you will use to evaluate progress and achievements in relation to your goal, purpose and specific objectives ;
  • When you will monitor progress and evaluate achievements;
  • Where and from whom you will get the information you need;
  • Who should be involved in monitoring progress and evaluating achievements; and
  • How you will collect the information you will need.

Once you have made these decisions, you have completed the planning process. Now, all that is needed is to summarise your plan in a neat, clear, easy-to-use form so that it is a useful record and guide for all those who will play a part in implementing it successfully.

click on the heading for more information on how to plan for evaluation. This includes ideas on how to use criteria and indicators of successful achievement.

Step 8 - Summarise your plan

It is useful to summarise your plan as you go along and to keep circulating it to everyone along with a summary of the discussion after you complete each step. This will mean you have a clear record of your decisions at each step, which you can use in the next step.

If you have done this all the way along and are using the Logical Framework Approach outlined in the section on how to plan systematically, you should have a useful record of your discussions that you can use to:

  • Check your thinking and whether it all makes sense;
  • Keep a clear record of decisions;
  • Guide implementation;
  • Monitor external conditions and make adjustments if your assumptions do not prove to be accurate;
  • Explain your planning to donors or others whose assistance and support you decide to request;
  • Evaluate progress and achievements; and
  • Check your previous thinking, when you start the next planning process, and improve it based on the learning you have done in the implementation and evaluation phases.

See the section on how to plan systematically for a summary format you can use to summarise your plans.