The DCED Standard

At aBi, the RM system is built around the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) standard version VIII (released in April 2017) for measuring results in private sector development programs. It comprises seven elements, listed below, which are the minimum required for a credible Results Measurement System;

  • Articulating the Results chain
  • Defining indicators of change, other information needs
  • Measuring attributable change
  • Capturing wider changes in the system or market
  • Tracking costs and impact
  • Reporting costs and results
  • Managing the system for results measurement

By adopting these elements, programme teams understand what is working and why, and use monitoring information to improve the effectiveness of their work.

The underlying requirement of the DCED Standard is for programme teams to think through, and validate, the logic of their work. The first step is for the teams to articulate the ‘results chain’, a simple yet powerful tool which maps the activities conducted by the project, and shows how these are expected to contribute to positive development  impacts.

This format of the results chain, enables teams to be explicit about the assumptions that they make. Based on this, programmes formulate and monitor indicators which are designed to test these assumptions, assess attribution and broader changes to the market system, and use the results for reporting and programme management.

The DCED promotes a pragmatic approach to results measurement. It calls on programmes to measure results to a level that is complex enough to be credible, yet simple enough to be practical. In the words of John Maynard Keynes, “it is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong”. The key test of the DCED Standard is whether the approach taken by the programme would convince a reasonable but sceptical observer.

The DCED standard offers a confidential ‘audit’ service, which can lend additional credibility to the results measurement system. An audit involves an external, objective assessment of the monitoring system in use in the programme. The monitoring system is assessed against transparent and publically available criteria, giving every programme an incentive to improve and a goal to aim for.

There are three main reasons to use the DCED Standard for Results Measurement: quality, credibility, and practicality.

  • Quality. The DCED Standard represents a shared, inter-agency understanding of good practice around the estimation of results. In particular, it requires programmes to clearly articulate how the activities of the programme are expected to lead to outputs, outcomes, and eventually development impact. This process can improve design and management, as well as monitoring. The DCED Standard has been designed and revised in collaboration with field practitioners and results measurement specialists.
  • Credibility. Programmes can be audited for their use of the DCED Standard, which provides an external assessment of the quality of the results measurement system. We encourage programmes to voluntarily publish their audit report, although it is kept confidential if the programme wishes (See system/#Audited_programmes_and_published_reports). Donors, evaluators, and others can use the findings of the audit to assess the credibility of self-reported results.

Practicality. The DCED Standard recognises the limits of results measurement, and does not demand unrealistic levels of rigour or precision. Moreover, it lays out a relatively simple framework for programmes to improve their results measurement, removing the need for programmes to reinvent the wheel. Practitioners have access to guidelines and other support to make it easier to learn about and adhere to the DCED Standard. (see: