Value for Money (VfM) Reporting means outlining how your programme has been able to deliver VfM by providing the necessary evidence about what worked well and what did not work so well to reflect on whether the investment was worthwhile. Many donors request organizations to report using the so-called “4Es framework” that is intended to describe the extent to which the programme has been Economical, Efficient, Effective and Equitable.
Planning a VfM Report
Value for Money (VfM) can be daunting! Often, when organizations start thinking about reporting on VfM, they are not sure where to start. What should a VfM report cover? How do I articulate the value that has been generated? How is it different from the other sections of the report?
At Learning and Change we believe that VfM reporting can be made easier by thinking of VfM at the beginning of the programme. This means developing a VfM Framework (see our blog on VfM Frameworks) which outlines what VfM means within this specific programme, what value looks like and how to assess the VfM programme throughout its implementation. The VfM Report then becomes the place where the evidence collected according to the VfM Framework is pulled together and explained.
The 4Es Framework
Some donors, including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), require organisations to report using the 4Es framework. The figure below explains what the 4Es stand for (Source: ICAI, DFID’s approach to value for money in programme and portfolio management. A performance review. February 2018).
The assumption underpinning this framework is that to make good use of resources, it is necessary to find the best balance between the “four E’s”: Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity.
Reporting using the 4Es provides a structure to VfM reports which is usually required by donors. Each of the 4Es should be broken down in sub-categories that can tell a performance story.
At Learning and Change we believe that the definitions provided above can be quite abstract and it is often helpful to contextualise them so that they reflect what they may mean in a specific programme. The following table provides a simplified definition as well as an example for a programme focussed on distributing food in a refugee camp.
Reflections on the 4Es Reporting
The 4Es framework is a linear way of looking at VfM. Other approaches can take also into account the views of stakeholders and the complexity of the environments in which organizations operate to explore the value that has been generated and how it relates to the investment decisions made.
These types of VfM reports may be able to give more space to draw out learning to show how programmes adapt based on changing circumstances. It allows to present findings using a simple visual which is generally easy to understand.
Learn more about our work on VfM here.