This report by Mark Planigale (2010) examines the theoretical foundations of client outcome measurement as well as the practicalities of setting up an outcome monitoring system.

This research was undertaken by Mark as part of a project position for HomeGround Services, a major Melbourne provider of homelessness and housing services. We thank HomeGround for their support in making this research possible, and their willingness to share the findings with others. We also thank the partner organisations and the many individuals who generously contributed experience and knowledge to the project.


The need for outcomes measurement

Many community service organisations' reporting systems are geared towards figures on activities and outputs - counting how much assistance or service is provided to clients. It is equally important to understand what outcomes are produced. What is the lasting value for clients of engagement with services?

The ability to monitor outcomes is a key to tracking organisational success. Outcomes measurement can play a key role in service improvement, advocacy and securing funding.

Challenges of outcomes measurement

Collecting reliable, useful data on client outcomes presents a number of challenges, including:

  • Gaining stakeholder buy-in to outcome measurement processes
  • Defining the outcomes that are of interest - both positive and negative outcomes may be useful to measure
  • Capturing good quality data
  • Technical issues related to data analysis
  • Generating summary reports that provide useful business intelligence
  • Resourcing and sustaining the process

The absence of generally accepted, consistent outcomes measurement frameworks within particular service sectors also presents barriers.

About this report

This literature review is a resource for people looking at introducing outcomes measurement systems for health and community services programs. While oriented towards the context of homelessness assistance services, much of the information is applicable to health and human services programs more generally. It provides information and approaches that may be useful in tackling the challenges noted above.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Benefits and challenges of client outcome measurement
  3. Homelessness sector: approaches to defining and measuring client outcomes
  4. Measurement of client outcomes as a research activity
  5. Conceptualising client outcomes
  6. Measures and measurement tools
  7. Measurement processes
  8. Use of outcomes data
  9. Process of introducing outcome measurement
  10. Key questions to resolve in developing an outcome measurement framework
  11. References

Please download the Literature Review to view the full contents.


Assistance with outcomes measurement

Lirata Consulting assists organisations to develop and implement outcomes measurement frameworks, and to build their organisational capabilities for collection and analysis of outcomes data. We also provide a broader suite of evaluation and research services.

For further information or assistance, please contact Mark Planigale at Lirata Consulting.

Mobile: 0429 136 596
Landline: 03 9457 2547
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Literature review: Measurement of client outcomes in homelessness services (PDF 818 KB)

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External resources

The following resources may also be of interest to those exploring outcomes measurement.