Define milestones, specific key points in the results chain, and other information needs that are critical to making management decisions. Be explicit with what information is needed for these points. For each information need, consider whether indicators are needed. Note that activities and outputs are generally more commonly measured and reported to donors and in management reviews, but intermediate results and impacts are the results that are necessary to measure to indicate conservation results.
Processes or activities describe project actions, such as engaging in meetings, working with partners, conducting lobbying activities, etc. Indicators for these track activities and participation. They are generally qualitative in describing status, such as whether an activity is completed, ongoing and going well, has some issues, has major issues, or has not been started.
Outputs describe the major products that are completed by the conservation activity. These may be reports, or tools that were developed. Indicators for these are qualitative and generally related to the completion and delivery of a product. Progress in completing outputs can be generated similarly to process or activity indicators.
Intermediate results describe what we intend to accomplish that is a prerequisite for achieving conservation goals or outcomes. Intermediate results can be defined for several major steps in a sequence within a strategy. Intermediate results may relate to changes to or establishment of policy, governance, sustainable finance, partnership development, a social behavioral change, or implementation of management activities. Intermediate results are often referred to as “leading indicators” since their completion suggests that impacts will occur in the future.
Impacts describe what changes to people and nature are ultimately being achieved as a result of the conservation strategy. Impacts are related to goals; specifically, our goals are to achieve a certain level of impact. Impacts can be described in terms of the scope of an impact (how many hectares and/or kilometers are protected, restored, improved, how many people benefited, etc.) and/or the degree of impact (increase in population size, changes in species diversity, changes in water quality, changes in income, life expectancy, etc.). Impacts are often referred to as “lagging indicators” since they can take time to be realized and/or monitored.