Planning The M&E Action
In every project/programme, there must be a specific activity of Monitoring and Evaluation which has its outputs and indicators.
Monitoring tracks and measures the progress towards achieving an output, outcome or impact. However, the goal cannot be measured directly. It must first be translated into a set of indicators that, when regularly measured, will provide information whether or not the output, outcome or impact are being achieved. This is especially important when the outcomes of an action are interlinked with outcomes of other actions and together these feed into the outcomes and impacts of a wider programme.
Monitoring is conducted by the concerned staff for outputs and activities falling under her/his specific responsibility within the purview of the logical framework. For each activity, the concerned staff must enter information into specifically developed Monitoring Formats that are aligned with her/his annual workplans.
Each month (or every week if it is a rapid emergency response intervention through sitreps or "situation reports"), the project manager compiles together the monitoring information of various staff and sends it to the Programme Manager. This is the monthly report of the Project Manager. Each monthly report, besides sending the monitoring information, must also explain the major issues emerging during project implementation. This monitoring information feeds into in-itinere evaluations and finally into ex-post evaluations.
Evaluation can be conducted either:
- internally (by staff within organisation),
- externally (by external consultants) or
- by a team comprising a mixed team (staff and external consultant).
There are three main kinds of evaluation:
- Ex Ante Evaluations (Prospective), i.e. before starting a project and synthesizes the monitoring and evaluation information from earlier studies to assess the likely outcomes of proposed new project/programme/policy
- In Itinere Evaluations (Formative) i.e. during implementation phase of new project/programme/policy and is intended to improve performance
- Evaluations At Project Closure (Summative)
- Ex Post Evaluations i.e. after the project, focusing on consequences or results in order to enable persons to make assessments with respect to the creation, continuation or enlargement of a given new project/programme/policy.
Although an in-itinere evaluation can be facilitated by an external expert, it is usually a process of self-evaluation (also called mid-term review) conducted by staff within the organisation during the implementation phase. The main objective of such an evaluation is to empower the implementing team in assessing its project/programme and taking corrective measures in time to improve performance. In order to improve the performance of a project/programme, the distinction between objectives, outputs and activities must be elaborated and demonstrated.
An in-itinere (formative) evaluation, therefore, focuses on studying and correcting the logical coherence of the relationship between project objectives, outputs, activities and inputs such that the project's aim of bringing in the lives of the beneficiaries becomes achievable. In order that an in-itinere evaluation be comprehensive and effective in improving project performance, following are the steps to be taken by the evaluator:
- design in-itinere (formative) self-evaluation action as a separate activity
- identify the outputs and indicators of the monitoring and evaluation activity
- review and re-elaborate the logical coherence between inputs, activities, outputs and objectives
- review and change, if necessary, the indicators to monitor and measure performance
- design monitoring formats so that information collected is reliable
- elaborate well the evaluation criteria, questions and methodology
- The main result of the activity of Monitorign and Evaluation is the empowerment of the implementing team in conducting effective self evalaution.
This approach to evaluation is based on the Results-Based management framework that defines monitoring as a continuous process of collecting and analyzing information, and comparing actual results to expected results in order to measure how well a project, program or policy is being implemented. It defines evaluation as an assessment of a planned, ongoing, or completed intervention to determine its relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. The intention of such an evaluation is to provide information that is credible and useful, enabling incorporation of lessons learned into the decision making process of recipients.
The outputs of the M&E activity will be:
- Front-end Analysis of the Project conducted: understanding the context and existing knowledge in project theme
- Stakeholders Identified and analysed : beneficiaries, donors, staff, directors
- Theory of Change articulated through the logic model/logical framework
- Outcomes and indicators defined
- Monitoring formats designed
- Evaluation questions and criteria formulated according to programme stage
- evaluation conducted
- corrective measures recommended
- Results based Monitoring and Evaluation
- Determine What Information The Evaluation Must Provide
- Define The Data To Collect
- Decide On Data Collection Methods
- Decide How Information Will Be Collected And Analyzed
- Deciding The Concrete Outputs Of The Action -(Reports, Presentations, Etc.
- Deciding How The Outputs Of The Evaluation Activity Will Be Used By Evaluation Stakeholders