Blue Flower

Impact Management

Impact management is the new term for what was previously known in various guises as M&E (monitoring and evaluation), MEL (monitoring evaluation and learning), MEAL (monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning), PMEAL (planning, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning), IA (impact assessment), IE (impact evaluation) or impact measurement (IMe).  These terms are not all exactly coterminous, but basically generally mean the same thing - working out what the effects of your work have been, good and/or bad, and using that information to make it more effective in the future.

Making basic concepts more complicated can be a bad thing, but - as the list above indicates - in this instance the original concepts were often a bit of a mouthful.  It's also a useful change.  We at SERC have all experienced how frustrating it is when hard-won learning around issues of social effectiveness gets consigned to the cupboard once the reports containing them have been produced, and that's what impact management is designed to forestall.

There is a lot of stuff about it out there, but the clearest starting point is Social Value UK's blog on the issue.  In simple terms, impact management means (to paraphrase NPC's useful definition) setting up evaluation so it feeds back into the delivery of your work.

The most important thing about impact management is that it doesn't require reams of academic level research.  Instead it's about doing what you can with what you have - as the blog flags up, all you need is 'enough precision to make a decision'.  So it's ideal for smaller organisations and projects.

Big funders (and some big companies) like it too, so it could be the coming thing.  So if you want to get more of an idea of what it means in really practical, day-to-day terms, this article from Odd Arts is probably the best route map to what it looks like.