Sep 19 2018
Monitoring and evaluation - why bother?

By Howard Exton-Smith

Monitoring and evaluation is often an afterthought, however they’re invaluable in helping an organisation to check the ‘bottom line’. In a business this might be profit, but in a not-for profit organisation the question may well be “are we making a difference?”

Through monitoring and evaluation, you can:

  • Review progress
  • Identify problems in planning and/or implementation
  • Make adjustments so that you are more likely to “make a difference”

In some organisations, monitoring and evaluation is something that that is just seen as a donor requirement rather than a management tool. Donors are certainly entitled to know whether their money is being properly spent, and whether it is being effectively spent.

However, the primary (and perhaps most important) use of monitoring and evaluation should be for the organisation or project to see how it is doing against objectives, whether it is having an impact, whether it is working efficiently, and to learn how to do it better.

Whether for a project or an organisational initiative (like a strategy), the six key questions you need to ask are:

1. Relevance: Did the initiative address the original need?

2. Effectiveness: How far did the initiative meet the objectives as identified at inception?

3. Progress: Is the initiative achieving the original objectives, or have these changed? Has the programme/project provided any learning opportunities for future programming?

4. Efficiency: How cost effective was the initiative in meeting those objectives? Could the same results be achieved at a lower cost (value for money)?

5. Impact: What are the effects of the initiative? Intended and unintended, positive, and negative, immediate, or long-term, micro and/or macro. Shorter term results may be outcomes, longer-term may be impacts. Causality can be a question – was it your initiative that made a difference?

6. Sustainability: Will the initiative and its benefits continue after any external support is withdrawn?

Throughout the process remember this; getting something wrong is not a crime, but failing to learn from past mistakes because you are not monitoring and evaluating is!

If you'd like to find out more about monitoring and evaluation, take a look at our one day course here.

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