# Working with indicators
An indicator (opens new window) is a quantitative measure or qualitative observation used to describe change. Sometimes they are referred to as KPI's or Key Performance Indicators.
Indicators can be related to the objectives that are outlined in a logframe to align the goals of the program. Indicators depict the extent to which a project is accomplishing its planned inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impact.
For an indicator to measure change it typically has the following:
- Baseline: a measure used to benchmark the current state of an indicator so that the recorded results can be appropriately calculated;
- Target: the improvement or achievement expected to take place while the project is being implemented.
Further guidance on baseline and targets can be found here (opens new window).
# Creating SMART indicators
When defining indicators (opens new window), it can be helpful to use SMART criteria to guide performance indicator conceptualization.
SMART stands for:
|Specific||Describe your indicator precisely. What does the project intend to change?|
|Measurable||The indicator must be quantifiable and measurable. Can the indicator be assessed objectively and independently?|
|Achievable||Indicators must be attainable within the constraints of the project triangle (budget/resources, time/budget, and scope/quality).|
|Relevant||Indicators must accurately measure the change the project aspires to generate. Does the indicator practical and cost-effectively measure what the project team needs to know?|
|Time-bound||The indicator should identify a specific time and date. By when will the indicator be achieved? Can the indicator be achieved within the established time frame?|
# Basic Indicator Plan Format
Use this basic template to help you plan indicators for your program.
|Indicator name||Definition||Level||Means of verification||Data collection frequency||Person(s) responsible||Method of analysis||Information use|
|--||WHAT will be monitored||WHAT type of indicators||HOW it will be monitored||WHEN it will be monitored||WHO will monitor||HOW it will be analyzed||WHY it is monitored|
Other indicator plan formats can be found here (opens new window).
# Set up indicator targets
# What are target periods?
Target periods are used to define the specific time frames in which indicator results should be reported. These defined periods allow a user to add a
target value in which the indicator should achieve during that period in time.
Benefits of setting target periods
Setting targets that align with donor reporting periods: Target periods are useful when it comes to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) since it allows practitioners to clearly define time periods that they need report by and help them to set reasonable targets.
Indicator data collection often occurs multiple times: Indicator data collection (opens new window) is often collected at multiple occurrences and therefore M&E practitioners have to compile collected data and sum it for a given time period. By using target periods, you get to set a single target value for a given period and then can report multiple indicator results to that period.
# Add target periods
Target periods are used to define the specific time frames in which indicator results should be reported by allowing users to select a
frequency interval (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually) and by providing a
start date and end date. Once these are provided, Activity will generate target periods based on this. A user will then have the option to go through each target period and set a
target value for each target period. The target values will be used to later to produce indicator target versus actuals (TvA) report which are commonly used by international development and humanitarian NGOs to measure progress.
# Set up indicator disaggregations
Disaggregations (opens new window) allows you to define groups you would like to collect data for. For example, if you are collecting participant information, you may want to know how many male vs. female attended.
When you add an Indicator, you can define disaggregation groups under the Disaggregations tab. After you have defined these, you will be able to input data against each disaggregation group when you add results against your indicator. See Results for more information.
# Working with indicator results
Indicators > Indicator and on the indicator record that you want to add results to, click on the arrow to expand and click
Add Results button.
Then enter your collected value and date manually. You can also select a corresponding periodic target. When you're done, click