Integrating ‘impact measurement’
into the program life-cycle
Integrating ‘impact measurement’into
the program life-cycle
Investment strategies and social programs, that are evidence based, result oriented and culturally relevant.
A continuing function of systematic collection of data to determine the extent of progress and achievement of results, from social investments.
An objective assessment of impact investments, program implementation and impact outcomes, to determine achievement of results.
Defining Social Impact Management
The essence of Social Impact Management lies in the belief that ‘effective impact measurement is an ongoing process’. It entails planning and management of social impact investments, spanning design, implementation and measurement. The concept can be applied by all organisations contributing to social change, i.e: Government bodies, NGOs, Corporate Social Responsibility departments and impact investors; to measure, manage, and optimize social impact. Impact investments broadly serve three main purposes, i.e: Act to avoid harm (risk management) Benefit stakeholders (pursuing sustainable development goals) Contribute to solutions (addressing pressing social or environmental problems).
Impact management is an ongoing practice of measuring and improving social investment outcomes, to reduce negative and increase positive impacts. Social Impact Management examines the implications of organisation strategies, evaluated in terms of their impacts upon quality of life of communities, the wider socio-economic repercussions in society; seeking to hone the potential of the social responsibility of business. The process manages social impacts throughout the whole project lifecycle. It works as a management and learning tool for projects.
Importance of Social Impact Management
Social Impact Management provides a coherent framework for strategic planning and management, based on learning and accountability. It improves effectiveness of social investments and service delivery, by defining realistic expected results and targets. Social Impact Management estimates the social impacts that might occur during implementation and identifies proactive measures to respond to change across the lifecycle of developments. The process helps in integrating lessons learnt into management decisions and reporting performance, as well as forming partnerships to attain shared outcomes. Social impact consulting enables ‘social impact companies’ to consider ‘social impact’ throughout the life of the project to enable efficient mitigation and management of both- negative and positive, intended and unintended impacts.
A Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) provides the private sector a framework to identify, assess and manage social impacts in their control and sphere of responsibility. It gives a deep contextual understanding of social issues, the target group and expected impacts. It builds up a database against which to monitor and assess a program’s feasibility, progress and effectiveness – during implementation and after it is complete. While focusing on the importance of Corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, a SIMP adopts a holistic approach to social impact by examining the broader implications of organisational operations.
Characteristics of Social Impact Management
“An understanding of impact evaluation and its importance across all levels of personnel is the first of a series of actions which will enable organisations to link impact evaluation to their social missions, and prioritise impact measurement. Monitoring and Evaluation is an integral element of program management and should be strategically planned in terms of investment strategies, implementation, resource deployment (man-power and budgets) and timelines.”
“It is a comprehensive methodology used by the not-for- profit, social impact business, impact investing and Government sectors to promote
socially responsible investing. It is mapped in an ‘Outcome Framework’ which defines long-term goals for social change and then maps backward the activities that must be undertaken to achieve and sustain the desired change”
“Finally, it should enable a good understanding of the capacities and conditions needed to ensure socially responsible investing. A good M&E framework ensures enhanced social performance, reducing social and environmental risks and builds trust through better communication.
“Teams are able to easily collect data in a standardized manner, such that various datasets (new and legacy) are able to interface. The system should be built keeping last-mile focus, with multi-lingual support, allowing for implementation staff and communities to share stories, experiences; reporting through text, photos, and audio.”
Essentials of an Impact Management Strategy
The impact management service offered by 4th Wheel caters to the implementation of Government schemes and programs, CSR activities, NGO programs, etc. An Impact Management Strategy enables organisations to move from compliance of evaluation and reporting, to creating value from the process of impact evaluation. It lays the foundation for articulating a change theory model that includes external influences and takes cognisance of the social context within which social investments are made.
Stakeholder mapping is a collaborative impact management service. It involves research, debate, and discussion that draws from multiple perspectives to determine a key list of stakeholders and their influences and needs, across the entire organisational spectrum.
Mapping is broken down into listing relevant groups, organizations, and people; understanding stakeholder perspectives and interests, visualizing relationships to program objectives, ranking stakeholder relevance and identifying related issues. This process results in an organisation leading good practice in social impact management, by integrating stakeholder voices into decisions.
Needs assessment/baseline studies aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, put in place the building blocks of an effective monitoring system, improve governance and service delivery, and drive progress towards the shared objective of sustainable development. It builds up a database against which to monitor and assess an activity’s feasibility, progress and effectiveness – during implementation and after the program is complete.
This crucial impact management service maps specific indicators of programs, under each SDG, based on the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators.
Investors with credible impact investing practices share learnings where possible to enable others to learn from their experience as to what actually contributes to social and environmental benefit, and a process evaluation allows for that.
This exercise helps to assess processes to learn from the implementation experience, and identify gaps and successes, which can be used to sustain, strengthen and scale social investments. Areas of enquiry relate to implementation mechanisms, project management structures and systems, human resource development mechanisms, internal analysis and reflection mechanisms.
“Rigorous evaluation methods include Social Return on Investment (SROI), Quasi-experimental designs, Longitudinal and Cross Sectional Studies and Social Audits.”