This page is part of our successful commissioning toolkit.

Establishing the outcomes to be achieved by the service is critical for the remainder of the commissioning process.

The term ‘outcomes’ in this sense has a specific meaning. Particularly, outcomes are the real-life economic, social and/or environmental improvements that you seek from your programme. For commissioners these outcomes will involve some direct or indirect benefit to some or all of the people in the area they cover.

Outcomes do not stand alone. Outcomes come from the combination of the outputs produced by your programme’s provider and of the economic, social and/or environmental conditions in which the programme operates. [Note]

Outputs result from processes. Processes are the activity of the provider. These are the things that the provider does to produce the outputs (that will in turn produce the outcomes).

The relationship of inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes with value for money is set out more fully under Assessing value for money.


Note: An example is primary schooling. The school can produce the best outputs. But it is only when those combine with local economic, social and environmental factors (such as family and housing conditions) that the educational outcome (i.e. fulfilling every child’s potential) is produced.

Table of contents

Successful commissioning toolkit: Table of contents

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Building outcomes