Tips and Processes
Tip 1: Make sure to look across the entire Outcomes Tree for relevant outcomes. You might find important outcomes in secondary or unexpected domains. For example, though your service might be a housing service, a strong focus might also be on building social support (in the Social Inclusion domain) or ensuring people are safe where live & sleep (in the Safety domain).
Tip 2: You can select individual outcomes, or you can select a domain heading (for example, “Housing” or “Health”) and measure all of its associated outcomes.
Tip 3: If you have a program logic for your service or activity, check the outcomes listed there and use these.
Tip 4: Check if your organization has its own outcomes framework, and use these.
Tip 5: Check if your funder has prescribed the outcomes your service/activity should be achieving.
Tip 6: Think about whether you want to compare to another program, then check their outcomes and how they are measured.
Tip 7: Sometimes outcome language aggregates multiple outcomes together, for example “Job readiness” or “Safe, stable and affordable housing”. If the outcomes you have in your program logic (or from your funder) don’t match the Outcomes Tree, think about the individual outcomes that are likely to make up this concept. For example: “Job Readiness” might = Career planning/ knowledge + Relevant job skills+ Relevant work experience + Job seeking skills + Positive work attitudes and appropriate behaviours.
If you don’t have identified outcomes or there is a need to further refine the outcomes, we suggest the following process.
- Bring together a team to select the outcomes (typically a team of practitioners, team leaders, service managers and/or a team of service users).
- Use the one page Printable Version of the Outcomes Tree at the Outcomes Tree tab (best printed on A3 sheet).
- Start by getting each team member to brainstorm the outcomes experienced by service users (write each outcome on a sticky note).
- Compare sticky notes and organize into clusters, name each cluster (or outcome area).
- Compare the outcomes listed to printed Outcomes Tree and circle the most relevant outcome/domain for each cluster. You can stick your sticky notes on the sheet and link up with arrows.
- Identify any outcomes that are not covered on the Outcomes Tree. Remember that this framework covers only outcomes (that is, effects on the person or their life) and does not cover the process or practice elements (that is, the way the service is delivered, e.g. respectful practice; knowledgeable staff). The framework also does not cover changes or outcomes you hope to achieve at the community or structural level (for example, changing community attitudes).
- If there are more than 3 outcome areas, we recommend prioritizing the top three. This is because we want to minimize the burden of data collection, particularly for service users who have to supply the data (by answering questions).