How to Conduct a Program Analysis



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A program analysis is the process of looking at an organization’s intended social and behavior change communication (SBCC) program and then identifying enabling and limiting factors to implementing it successfully.

A program analysis is used as a planning tool when the program is under development and helps the program team explore the following factors that may enhance or constrain the planned SBCC program and then utilizes the findings for program design:

  • Human and Physical Resources
  • Political Environment and Trends
  • Programmatic and Management Structure
  • Community and Client Dynamics
  • Technological Resources
  • Financial Resources and Funding

A program analysis is only as good as its information. Research and accurate data are vital to identifying key issues relevant to the success of a program.

Why Conduct a Program Analysis?

A program analysis helps the team understand key constraints that must be addressed for a program to be successful. SBCC programs risk failure if fundamental limiting factors, weaknesses and threats are not addressed. Findings from the program analysis inform the design of the program/campaign strategy and identify clear actions to be taken to enhance the potential for success.

Who Should Conduct a Program Analysis?

A small, focused team should conduct the program analysis. Members should include research, health/social service and program and communication staff. When feasible, it can be a good idea to include stakeholders from outside the program to participate and bring a neutral perspective to the process.

When Should a Program Analysis Be Conducted?

Conduct a program analysis after completing the situation analysis and audience analysis. Information collected during these analyses will inform the program analysis. Use the findings to develop the SBCC strategy.

Estimated Time Needed

Completing a program analysis can take up to two weeks. Consider the size of the project, scope of the literature review, how much data is available and easily accessible, and whether additional stakeholder or audience input is needed. Allow for additional time to fill in any gaps that may exist.

Learning Objectives

After completing the activities in the program analysis guide, the team will understand:

  • The opportunities that exist to improve the design or implementation of the SBCC strategy.
  • Which challenges to address before or as part of implementing the SBCC strategy.



Step 1: Decide on a Framework

There are many ways to assess an organization’s ability to design and implement a program, including a full organization/communication capacity assessment, Force Field Analysis, Theory of Constraints and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis (see Resources for more information). If an organization has a program that has already begun, it may rely on recent program assessments or evaluations if available.

Step 2: Implement Chosen Framework

This guide outlines the Force Field Analysis framework, which is a relatively quick and simple way to analyze a program and its potential for success. Force Field Analysis assists a program team in identifying what factors – both internal and external – can help them reach the shared vision/change desired (forces for change) and what factors might keep them from reaching the vision (forces against change). The graphic below illustrates the concepts behind implementing the Force Field Analysis framework.

Forces FOR Change

Forces AGAINST Change

Change Desired

What is the shared vision?

Step 3: Describe Proposed Change

Using the Force Field Analysis template (see Force Field Analysis Template), in the center box, describe the change the program hopes to accomplish, which should be based on the shared vision established during the situation analysis. The shared vision may need to be condensed to create a concise version of the change the program desires.

Example: Shared Vision: By 2020, all women in Zed district who want to space or limit childbirths have easy access to safe, effective, affordable family planning methods that allow them to have the number of children they want, when they want.

Step 4: Brainstorm Forces for Change

Brainstorm all the forces, both internal and external, that might help the program achieve the desired change. See the table below for questions to help identify forces for change and examples of such forces:



What assets (time, resources, organizational experience) does the proposed program have that should help it succeed?
  • Implementing organization has 20 years of experience introducing new contraceptive methods.
  • Long-term funding from the Ministry of Health and two international donors.
  • Many well-trained, highly motivated clinical, counseling and outreach staff.
  • Five staffed health facilities.
Who supports the desired change?
  • The District Management Team.
  • A coalition of female leaders.
What are other programs or organizations doing that facilitate the desired change?
  • Ministry of Social Affairs providing conditional cash transfers to families.
  • Non-governmental organization providing training and assistance to improve local farming practices.
  • Ongoing faith-based organization coalition campaign promoting Standard Days Method® and Lactational Amenorrhea Method.
What trends support the change?
  • Increase in girls’ educational attainment.
  • Increasing access to mobile phones.
  • Young men and women want fewer children than their parents wanted.
What policies, norms, and regulations support the change?
  • National reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health policy.
  • Updated family planning/reproductive health guidelines.
  • Free health care for pregnant women and mothers of children under five.
What advantages does the proposed program offer over the way things are now?
  • Introduction of new methods.
  • Improved training and supervision of staff.
  • Updated, accessible information on family planning methods.
  • Broad coalition of partners, including the private sector.

Be sure to consider all the financial, human, technological and non-material resources the program can take advantage of. List each force for change in an arrow on the left side of the template (see Force Field Analysis Template).

Step 5: Brainstorm Forces against Change

Next, brainstorm all of the forces, both internal and external, that might prevent the program from achieving the desired change. See the table below for questions to help identify forces against change and examples of such forces:



Who opposes the desired change?

  • About half of family elders surveyed.

What are the risks involved with attempting to make the change?

  • Supply chain deficiencies could disrupt flow, reduce confidence of users/potential users.

What weaknesses or limitations does the proposed program have (such as human resources, capacity, financial, managerial)?

  • Uneven training and distribution of health staff potentially able to provide counseling and services.
  • Not enough health facilities.
  • Three hard-to-reach health facilities.
  • Difficult to hire new staff.
  • Insufficient financial and other incentives to maintain staff in hard-to-reach facilities.

What are other programs, agencies or organizations doing that might limit the program’s success in achieving the change?

  • Some traditionalists and religious institutions campaign against family planning.
  • Delays in improving road infrastructure to hard-to-reach communities.
  • Family planning/reproductive health guidelines overly-restrict non-medical practitioners.

What trends (political, social, technological or other) might impede change?

  • Slow economic growth tightening public sector funding.
  • Increasing access to online information also increasing spread of rumors and misinformation.

What norms and attitudes run counter to the change?

  • Tradition of having many children.
  • Fear of hormonal methods of contraception.

List each force against change in an arrow on the right side of the (see Force Field Analysis Template).

Step 6: Score Each Force

For each force listed, assign a score that represents how much influence that force has on the desired change. The team can decide on the scale, but one way is to score each force from 1 to 5, with 1 being weak influence and 5 being strong influence. The team can add up the scores for each side (for and against) to determine whether forces for change are greater than forces against change. There does not need to be an equal number of forces for each side. For example:

ScoreForces FOR ChangeDesired ChangeForces AGAINST ChangeScore
5Experience introducing new methodsFull access to safe and effective contraceptionSupply chain deficiences4
5Long-term fundingHalf of family elders4
4Many well-trained staffUneven staffing4
4Five staffed facilitiesNot enough health facilities4
4District Management Team supportsThree hard-to-reach facilities3
4Coalition of women leaders supportDifficult to hire new staff4
3Conditional cash transfers to familiesSome traditional and religious institutions4
2Non-governmental organization improving farming practicesInsufficient staff incentives for hard-to-reach facilites5
3Faith-based organization coalition Standard Days Method and Lactational Amenorrhea Method campaignOverly-restrictive family planning/reproductive health guidelines4
4Increasing girls’ educationRoad construction delays3
3Increasing access to mobile phonesTightening public funding3
5Young people want fewer childrenIncreasing access to rumors3
4National reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health policyTradition of large families3
4Comprehensive family planning/reproductive health guidelinesFear of hormonal methods4
5Free maternal healthcare
5Introduction of new methods
5Improved training and supervision
5Improved family planning information
4Broad public-private partnership

Step 7: Consider Appropriate Actions

Examine the completed Force Field Analysis sheet and ask what actions the program team might take to increase the potential for successful change. Ask what the program could do to strengthen the forces that support change and weaken the forces that oppose change. What weaknesses should the program address? What strengths should it build on to enhance successful change? Typically, the program should focus on the forces with the strongest influence. These actions then make up the strategy the program develops. A successful SBCC strategy addresses the key constraints to reaching the vision and capitalizes on core opportunities and assets.

Example: If the Force Field Analysis identified a policy preventing nurses and midwives from inserting IUDs, the program might decide to engage in advocacy to convince officials to change the policy. Or, if the analysis identified a popular figure that supports the use of bed nets, the program could engage her as a trusted spokesperson for the program.

Step 8: Use the Analysis Findings

Whatever template the team uses, the program analysis should highlight actions for inclusion in the strategy that will help the program reach the shared vision defined during the situation analysis. Using the results from the analysis, determine how the program can:

  • Eliminate or weaken the factors that stand in the way of reaching the vision.
  • Enhance the factors that support reaching the vision.
  • Build on key strengths and utilize available assets.
  • Mobilize neutral forces to help the program achieve the vision.
  • Minimize key weaknesses and avoid threats.
  • Capitalize on key opportunities.

Use the results of the program analysis when designing the SBCC strategy, messages, interventions and monitoring and evaluation plans.

Example: If the analysis revealed a strong norm against using contraceptives, part of the strategy would need to focus on addressing that norm, and messages would be designed accordingly. Or, if the analysis revealed limited financial resources for mass media, the program might decide it needs to collaborate with partners to disseminate messages or negotiate a deal with a local TV station for airtime. If the analysis showed that clinics lack the capacity to monitor referrals, the program may need to invest in a training intervention or develop tools for clinic staff.

Repeat or revisit the analysis as needed to check assumptions, incorporate new information or as the program or environment changes.


Force Field Analysis Template


PMTCT Communication Interventions SWOT Analysis

Using SWOT for a Neighborhood Development Project

External Resources

Tips & Recommendations

  • Avoid writing a long list of influencing internal and external factors. Prioritize the list and include only those that are likely to have a major impact on the shared vision.
  • Try to be honest and objective in identifying both positives and negatives. Overestimating abilities or underestimating challenges can negatively impact the program, strategy and health situation.
  • If outsiders cannot participate in the analysis, try to look at the program’s challenges and opportunities as an outsider (in addition to looking at them as insiders).
  • Really think through and analyze the enabling and limiting factors – listing them is not sufficient.

Lessons Learned

  • Conducting a program analysis helps avoid unhappy surprises and capitalize on advantages and opportunities.
  • A program analysis is most beneficial if it is used to support the vision and address the problem defined during the situation analysis and incorporate the information learned from the audience analysis.

Resources and References


SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

The Theory of Constraints (TOC)

SBCC Mapping Tool for Assessment

Writing a Communication Strategy for Development Programmes: A Guideline for Programme Managers and Communication Officers

SWOT Analysis

SBCC Capacity Assessment Tools


Banner Photo: © 2011 A.M. Ahad, Courtesy of Photoshare