A logic model is a visual model of the links between the intended outcomes of an activity and the actions or processes within this which are designed to deliver the outcomes. The model articulates the theory behind the proposed project, programme or policy and identifies and expresses any assumptions within the theory about the relationship between activities and outcomes. One way to think about it is to consider a logic model a visual means of sharing an understanding of the relationships within a process or activity between the resources required by the activity; the planned activities and processes within it; and the anticipated results or changes that the activity is intended to produce.
Logic models can be used for a number of purposes:
As a planning tool when developing policy or a programme strategy; when designing a project or service; or when developing a strategy for the comissioning of a group of services, for example. Logic models can help you to clearly articulate and illustrate the theory behind your planned activity – this theory is sometimes refered to as a ‘theory of change‘.
- When implementing a policy, strategy, or programme, logic models can form the basis of management plans and help you to identify outcomes indicators and the outcomes data that should be collected while the activity is taking place to enable monitoring and improvement of the activity throughout delivery.
- When evaluating and reporting on the performance of an activity and reporting on what has been achieved, logic models can help present information and progress towards articulated objectives in a clear and coherent way.
- There are different forms of logic model. A simple logic model might map the relationship between resources/inputs, activities/processes, outputs, and outcomes as a flow diagram. A more developed form could incorporate short term, medium and long term outcomes and the relationships between them, and highlight the interventions necessary to deliver these outcomes. Before it is possible to determine a format for your logic model, it is useful first to consider:
Which stakeholders should be included in the model. The outcomes included in the model will relate to or be of relevance to various stakeholders, and knowing who your stakeholders are and who the audience for the logic model are going to be will help you to narrow down what you should include and what the scope of the model will be.
The Scope of the Logic Model. What is the timeframe that the model will represent? Knowing this will help you to identify and frame the short, intermediate and long term outcomes of the process or activity in question. it is also important to understand whether you are considering one activity or process (in the case of a service design, perhaps) or a number of related activities or process (when considering a policy, strategic plan or when commissioning a range of services). In a case where you may be looking at more than one activity, it is likely that you may be looking to develop a more complex model, incorporating a number of logic models which over-lap or meet at various points in time.
Any assumptions about the relationships between an activity and identified outcomes. Any logic model will inevitably contain assumptions about the relationship between certain activities and outcomes or the relationships between short term, intermediate and long term outcomes. Recognising these assumptions and articulating them in the planning stage will enable you to identify where during delivery you need to collect data for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
Although logic models usually red from left to right, with resources/inputs to outcomes, when constructing a logic model it is helpful to think of the process backwards. What are the outcomes that the activity should ultimately produce? What are the intermediate and short term outcomes that will need to be produced for this to happen? What are the activities which can be assumed will produce these outcomes? And what resources/inputs will be needed to enable these activities?
Resources/Inputs – Activity – Outputs – Outcomes – Impact
Evaluation Support Scotland provide a very useful excel template for a basic logic model, as well as a support guide to developing logic models and further information, which you can access from their website.
The Health Scotland website provides information on evaluation for health programmes, including detailed information and useful tools for health agencies. You can access further information on Logic Models, results chains and other similar approaches from the Evaluation Support section of their site.
Social Impact Scotland would welcome examples of Logic Models used by organisations, commissioners or policy makers for inclusion on this site. If you would be interested in submitting a case study or example, please contact us.