A pragmatic approach to assessing system change - how to put it into practice

How-to guide

Published by
Miehlbradt Consulting / Springfield Centre / HPC / DCED

Planning for and assessing system change is a strategic management issue. It is critical for everything from developing a strategy and designing interventions, to adapting strategy, improving implementation and reporting impact.

But many programmes get stuck when it comes to assessing system change. The private sector development field has struggled to agree on an approach that programmes can implement and stakeholders can understand.

However, some mature programmes are starting to assess system change more effectively. Building on these emerging practices, this How-to guide accompanies the Overview paper, and targets practitioners responsible for facilitating and/or assessing system change. It provides more detailed implementation guidance, worked examples, and useful tips.

It uses two case examples for illustration throughout the paper - PRISMA’s work in the maize system in East Java, Indonesia and S4J’s work in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system in Albania.

The paper explains how to:

  • articulate the system changes that a programme aims to catalyse
  • assess those changes
  • use the results to inform decision making and reporting

The approach described in the paper builds on the practices outlined in the DCED Results Measurement Standard. The guidance provided has been designed to be useful to programmes that aim to catalyse system changes whether or not they apply the DCED Standard. 

  • Read also the Overview paper which summarises the approach that programmes can use to assess system changes regularly and practically
  • Use this accompanying slide deck which highlights the most critical elements of assessing system change and provide practical tips on how to start applying the pragmatic approach

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