Types of indicators

There are different types of indicators.

Direct and indirect indicators

Direct indicators are formulated primarily for countable facts or states of affair such as OutputOutput describes the countable offerings and products of a project as well as their utilization by the target group. Outputs form the basis for a project to have a desired result. Yet, they do not describe results per se. outputs or easily measured results. Direct indicators often emerge directly from the Project objectiveA project’s intended results, which contribute to improving physical, financial, institutional, social, environmental or other conditions for people, groups, organizations or elements of the broader society. project objectives.

Imagine that one of your project objectives is that, thanks to having participated in your project, young people are able to obtain apprenticeships. How would you be able to tell whether the project has achieved this result? As simple as it seems, the indicator in this case would be: “Number of youths who have obtained an apprenticeship after participating in the project.”

However, indicators are not always so obvious, and indeed emerge only after considerable thinking. In these cases, indirect indicators are used.

Indirect indicators point only indirectly to the observable state of affairs; they’re used when it’s impossible – or only possible after unjustifiably high expenditure – to collect data.

  • Deriving indicators

    A classic example of the use of indirect indicators is the collection of population figures in a large and difficult-to-access area populated by nomads.

    Instead of a “head count” process, which would be virtually impossible to carry out, a decision is instead made to fly over the area at night and count the number of fires as an indirect indicator. Previous experience has shown how many members of a family on average set up camp around a single fire, enabling the population count to be determined with a sufficient degree of accuracy in this way.

    Another example: If you wanted to know how many children were living in poverty in a given city district, an indirect indicator might be the number of children taking advantage of the offer of a free midday meal.


Indirect indicators are primarily used when qualitative states of affair are being described, such as changed living circumstances, changed attitudes or changes in behavior.

However, this gives rise to the next difficulty. Because how would you determine if a teenager has become more confident thanks to participation in the project, for example? Perhaps he expresses his opinion more often within the group? Or he has more social contact? His posture has improved? In this case, you need to use a variety of indicators.

Indicators for each level of the logic model

The indicators derived from the logic model effectively serve as milestones for monitoring your project. On the basis of the logic model, a distinction of indicators can be made between impact, outcome, output and input. For impact-oriented project work, indicators for the quality of the project work are also important.

results staircase showing all levels of results
  • Results-level indicators

Results-level indicators (outcome and impact indicators) help you determine whether and to what degree your project is achieving results. In order to be able to grasp the small aspects of progress shown by all project participants, it’s more important to formulate indicators for the outcomes at levels 4 - 6 than to develop indicators for long-term results.

  • Output-level indicators

Although outputs are not themselves results, they are the prerequisites for achieving results on higher levels.

Especially at the beginning of a project, it may be that outputs are the only things on which information can be collected, as results can often be identified only after some time has passed. At times when you cannot check on results - for instance, at the beginning of a project - you should at least be able to make statements about your outputs. However, that requires that you have formulated the appropriate output indicators.

  • Be careful!

    The fact that output-level indicators are easy to develop and collect sometimes leads managers to focus primarily on these even later in the project’s life.

  • Input-level indicators

Input indicators are also relevant, since they...

  • provide information on the resources going into the project, and
  • enable conclusions to be drawn regarding the project’s efficiency and efficacy.

If you compare the inputs in relation to the outputs and results, you can answer key questions such as:

  • What level of inputs produced how many outputs (efficiency)?
  • What level of input was required to produce what results (effectiveness)?


Quality-management indicators

For impact-oriented project work, indicators that capture the quality of the project work are also important.

Such standards could be, for example, the fact that tutoring sessions are carried out only by teachers or student teachers in the relevant subject, or that mentors are regularly provided with support by a trained supervisor. Later, as a part of the MonitoringThe systematic and continuous collection of data during the course of the project. Its aim is to obtain up-to-date information in order to be able to steer and control the project. monitoring process, these quality criteria are compared with what actually takes place.

What was true of output indicators is also true here: When you’re implementing a project in which results are difficult to substantiate, you should try to establish the quality of your project with the help of meaningful quality indicators.


Indicators for the YEA project example

YEA defined the following indicators for each step of the logic model.