Planning using the Project Planning Matrix (PPM) - Principles and General Procedures
The PPM matrix should provide a summary of the project design and, when detailed down to output level, should generally be no more than five pages long. The PPM matrix has four columns and usually four or five rows, depending on the number of levels of objectives used to explain the means-ends relationship of the project.
The vertical logic identifies what the project intends to do, clarifies the causal relationships, and specifies the important assumptions and uncertainties beyond the project manager’s control (columns 1 and 4 in figure 1).
The horizontal logic defines how project objectives specified in the project description will be measured, and the means by which the measurement will be verified (columns 2 and 3 in figure 1). This provides the framework for project monitoring and evaluation.
Some important terms:
STEP 1: Vertical Logic 1 - Defining Objectives and Activities
1. The objectives are derived from the objective tree and related goal/objective setting techniques and transferred into the first vertical column of the planning matrix, as follows:
2. The objective describes the intended impact or anticipated benefits of the planned programmes as a precisely stated future condition (i.e. ‘Completed...’, ‘Implemented...’, ‘Improved..’).
3. The outputs are expressed as objectives which the implementing agency/group must achieve and sustain. Their interrelated impact must be appropriate, necessary and sufficient to achieve the objective.
4. Write down those inputs which are necessary to sustain the outputs, noting that to ensure clarity:
5. The inputs and outputs are given consecutive, related numbers.
6. The narrative summary covers the operational MEANS ENDS Relationships in the plan structure (IF THEN).
STEP 2: Vertical Logic 2 - Adjusting the “If-Then Logic” with Assumptions
1. Examine whether the activities directly generate the set of results or whether an additional event must also take place that is outside the project’s influence.
2. Some of the important assumptions can be derived from the means ends relationships in the objective hierarchy and which were not incorporated into the project.
3. At each level, that is Input to Output, Output to Purpose and Purpose to Goal, the same procedure as in step one above takes place. Each level must contain the necessary and sufficient conditions (including assumptions) for the next higher level. At the lowest level, it may be necessary to define PRE CONDITIONS, these may be necessary for implementing the activities but they are outside the control of the project.
4. Important assumption are expressed in the same way as objectives, namely as positive conditions:
5. Assumptions that are important and are probable are termed ‘Killer Assumptions’ and they cannot be planned for. Should these Killer Assumptions occur the project plan must be amended or if there is no alternative strategy, the plan may have to be abandoned.
STEP 3: Horizontal Logic 1: Defining Indicators
1. Indicators must be Plausible: Indicators should measure what is important in the narrative summary statement. It is very easy to fall into the trap of measuring what is easy rather than what is important. Sometimes what is important is also easy to measure, however one must focus on importance first, then on measurement. Indicators, to the extent possible, must correlate with what is being measured. The usefulness of an indicator diminishes if there could be several other reasons for a change in the indicator.
2. Indicators must be Independent: Indicators measure the change, which through implementation of the plan is trying to happen. The indicators are not the things that make the change. The question of independence of indicators at different levels is difficult. Perhaps, while trying to determine whether the indicators set are independent of the next higher level, assistance can be rendered by asking the following question: ‘Are the indicators set, say at the purpose level, the things needed to create the purpose or are they signs that the purpose has been achieved?’
3. Indicators must be Objectively Verifiable: The prescribed statement must be accurate enough to make the indicator objectively verifiable. An indicator is objectively verifiable when different persons using the same measuring process obtain the same measurements quite independently of one another.
4. Indicators must be targeted: Indicators must be targeted in terms of quantity quality and time (and where necessary location):
5. If any of these criteria are missing, one cannot be entirely objective about whether one has been successful or not.
STEP 4: Horizontal Logic 2: Defining the Means of Verification
1. Stipulate the sources of information to verify the indicator.
2. The means of verification column of the matrix contains an exact description of what information is to be made available, in what form and, where necessary, by whom. The sources of verification should be allocated numbers corresponding to those of the indicators.
3.Sources of verification which are external to the project, programme or plan are reviewed as to:
4. When suitable, external sources of verification cannot be identified; the information necessary to verify the indicators may need to be collected. For this purpose particular activities have to be planned.
5. Other, verifiable indicators must replace indicators for which it is not possible to identify suitable sources of verification.
6. Indicators which, after careful consideration of the costs and benefits, are too cost intensive.
STEP 5: Checking the Logic
Finally, one has to check that the vertical and horizontal logic holds true. The following questions are helpful in doing this:
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