ROMA: A guide to policy engagement and influence

This online guide, written by John Young, Louise Shaxson, Harry Jones, Simon Hearn, Ajoy Datta and Caroline Cassidy for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), has been designed to support users to understand, engage with and influence policy.

Using over a decade of experience in influencing policy change, this set of tools was designed by the RAPID team to diagnose, understand the impact of, and set realistic objectives for policy influence.


"It is worth noting that ROMA draws heavily on the concepts underpinning Outcome Mapping (OM). Developed in the early 2000s, OM is an approach to fostering change that centres on understanding how different actors behave and how changing the behaviour of one actor fosters change in another (see Box 1). The context within which policy change happens is a complex one, happening with a range of different actors at different levels, as Chapter 1 outlines. Over the years, the RAPID team has found that OM-based approaches help organisations navigate this complexity to understand how policy change really happens and what they can realistically hope to achieve. In the team’s experience, OM-based approaches perform better in this regard than approaches based largely around delivering specific outputs to specific deadlines." (RAPID, 2014)


  • Diagnosing the problem 11
    • Defining the problem 12
    • Diagnosing complexity and uncertainty 16
    • Systemic factors: the political and institutional environment 20
    • Developing an engagement strategy to influence policy 23
    • Identify your policy influence objective 25
    • Develop a set of realistic, stakeholder-focused outcomes 26
    • Develop a theory of how to facilitate change 28
    • Develop your communications strategy 30
    • Identify resources and capacity to implement your activities 34
    • Write your engagement strategy 36
    • Case study: putting ROMA into practice in Zambia 38
  • From M&E to monitoring and learning 43
    • What to monitor and why 45
    • How to monitor – collecting and managing data 50
    • Making sense of learning and decision-making 54
  • Summary: putting ROMA into practice 60
    • Team leaders in research and practice organisations 61
    • M&E specialists 62
    • Researchers and practitioners 63
    • Communication specialists 64
    • Policy-makers and civil servants 65
    • Donors and research commissioners 66


Young, J., Shaxson, L., Jones, H., Hearn, S., Datta, A., and Cassidy, C. (2014). ROMA: A guide to policy engagement and influence. Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Retrieved from:

'ROMA: A guide to policy engagement and influence' is referenced in: