Module 3: Intervention performance monitoring


Monitoring the pace of change

Monitoring activities need to provide information on the pace of change in order to be useful for programme management. It may therefore be helpful to define indicators that capture change at different moments in the process, in order for the programme team to understand the pace of change.

  • Leading indicators provide information before the result takes place, and provide early signs that the intended change is likely to happen or not. In a market systems context, such an indicator could be a decision by a market actor not associated with a programme to adopt an innovation trialled by the programme. 
  • Coincident indicators yield information at about the same time as the result. These indicators confirm that the intended change actually happened and are important both for programme management and reporting. In a market systems context, information on sales trends for a particular product or service would provide a coincident indicator.
  • Lagging indicators provide data about what has happened as a result of project activities. While these are very important for understanding how an intervention has worked, the fact that information becomes available after the event, may make them less useful for understanding how change is happening in a rapidly moving environment. Examples of lagging indicators include the DCED common indicators which record changes in jobs, income or the number of enterprises benefiting financially from an intervention. 


To comply with the DCED Standard, monitoring systems need to include indicators that allow the sustainability of results to be assessed. This includes, for instance, considering whether an innovation introduced by the programme is beginning to be adopted throughout the market system.

M4P Operational Guide, Chapter 5: Measurement

Core principles and frameworks for measuring results.

Useful resources for identifying indicators:

IRIS: catalog of accepted performance metrics

Use IRIS metrics to measure the social and environmental performance of your portfolio.

Towards a shared approach for smallholder performance measurement

A framework of indicators for measuring farm-level sustainability.