Monitoring? Evaluation? Audit?
Definitions as per the European Commission:
... is an ongoing analysis of project progress towards achieving planned results with the purpose of improving management decision making.
...is an assessment of project efficiency, effectiveness, impact, relevance and sustainability for the purpose of learning and accountability to stakeholders.
...is an assessment of (i) the legality and regularity of project expenditure and income i.e. compliance with laws and regulations and with applicable contractual rules and criteria; (ii) whether project funds have been used efficiently and economically i.e. in accordance with sound financial management;; and (iii) whether project funds have been used effectively i.e. for purposes intended.
Why to plan?
- To understand the context, problems, stakeholders
- To have a strategy, check underlying assumptions and get ready for mitigating risks
- To get a buy-in by stakeholders….and probably funds
How to plan?
- Conduct a situational analysis (context, problems, stakeholders)
- Decide what positive change you would aim to contribute and decide a strategy – what activities and outputs would lead to desired results and objectives. This is your “theory of change” or project logical framework.
How to set indicators?
To check progress, use both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
Quantitative Indicators are often checked if they are SMARTER:
- Specific / Simple (to understand, collect)
- Attainable/Available at acceptable costs
- Relevant to project / stakeholders
Example: Min. 30 % of participants initiate a project aiming to address a local issue.
You can compare the data using trends (increase), thresholds (min. 30%) or targets (strategy by 12/Y1).
For qualitative indicators, it is sometimes recommended to use the SPICED tool .
- Interpreted and communicable
- Cross-checked and compared
- Diverse / disaggregated (by gender)
Example: Reasons why participants have (not) implemented a project to address a local issue
Even at a later stage, you would be checking, if the project logical framework is still valid. For the purpose of monitoring and evaluation, you may also need to revise project logical framework to “fit” the reality (for example, due to the change in government strategy, you started focusing on pre-school rather than primary education).
Why to monitor?
- Timely identification of successes and problems during project implementation
- Informed and timely decision making by project managers to support implementation
- Accountability for the resources used and results achieved
- Stakeholder awareness and participation
- The evaluation of project achievements and audit of activities and finances
How to monitor?
- Clarify what to monitor (for example activity indicators such as number of participants or effectiveness or sustainability) and for whom (who needs what information) Use logical framework (project application or plan)
- Prepare Monitoring Plans (they are usually split by a time period / project partner and show trends over time), building on existing systems
- Develop adequate sources of verification
- Collect data
- Make decisions upon the above (otherwise why to spend time monitoring?)
Where to learn more?
- The Road to Results, a planning, monitoring and evaluation "Bible" by Linda Imas and Ray Rist at the World Bank web here.
- UNDP Handbook on planning, monitoring and evaluating for development results is available for free at the UNDP website here.
- SEWA Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Manual for village organizers is here.
Would you like a Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Manual for your organization?
Let me know!