Step 1: Define the project objectives

The effect (outcome and impact) of a project can only be assessed and verified if it is clear what the effect of the planned project should be. Carrying out a situation analysis and defining the outcome and impact objectives form the basis of outcome and impact assessment. 

How it is done


Taking account of the environment and the context, the nature of the problematic situation confronting the target group, what has caused it and what the target group’s needs are must be clarified. It is necessary to define the change the project is supposed to bring about. The target group must be included from the very beginning and the overarching goals must be kept constantly in mind.


Finding answers to the following questions can provide the first step in an impact assessment:

  • What is the problem and what are its causes?
  • What are the target group’s needs and what do other stakeholders want?
  • What do we want to change for the target group?
  • What longer-term effects do we want to trigger?
  • How does this contribute to the overarching goals both within and outside our organisation?
  • Which external factors and forces might work against these objectives?


A project’s effects must be clearly distinguished from its outputs. Outputs are the services provided by the project and its products. Effects are the results on the target groups. We differentiate between direct, short-term project effects for the target group (outcomes) and indirect, longer-term effects (impact) for the community. The project’s objective at the outcome level is called the project objective. The project’s objective at the impact level is termed the project goal. In the ZEWO Guidelines on outcome and impact assessment, we are primarily interested in effects at the outcome level.