Effective Monitoring and Evaluation

I was asked recently to provide a friend in PNG with some thoughts- guidance if you like.

Here is what I said to him-
Firstly- understand clearly what the organisation seeks to achieve. ARe they clear about that? Does everyone – at least key people who allocate resources – understand that big picture? How focussed are they on that mission/goals?

Secondly what mechanisms do they have in place to assess their starting point? If they have no idea of their strengths and weaknesses at the start of a program, how will they assess progress?

What mechanisms do they have in place for staff reporting and how are those reports managed? Probably not well? See if you can drag some of these documents out of the organisation- to actually interview those who wrote them, and assess how the issues raised in those reports were managed. Was there a response that helped with that issue?

Do they know what success would look like? One program I worked with ran many small projects. However few if any projects knew what they were striving to achieve and had no measure for achievement. SMART objectives seems crucial to me. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound…

Keep it simple. Don’t get bogged down with lots of high flying theory. Try to see what would make a real difference.

Where I was, we saw three areas to work on. We succeeded at least partially in two of these-
Leadership training- a strategic, measurable response. We didn’t get that off the ground, but it is still sitting there, ready to get going when the organisation puts that issue high enough up the priority list.
Projects needed clear objectives- knowing what success and failure would look like. We made some progress on that, linked to the next key issue.
We needed a mechanism to manage projects. Information sharing with various people – stakeholders if you like.Refer to

Here are some further resources turned up by good old google.
A Framework for Developing an Effective Monitoring and Evaluation System in the Public Sector – Key Considerations from International Experience

Robert Lahey
www.ideas-int.org/documents/Document.cfm?docID=160
President
REL Solutions Inc., Canada
RELahey@rogers.com

Abstract
The introduction of a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system in a public institution or on a country-wide basis is a significant undertaking that generally requires both organizational changes as well as cultural changes within the public sector. For example, establishing clarity of ‘purpose’ for the M&E system, and communicating the ‘vision’ are important elements at the outset.

To be effective, M&E needs to be positioned as far more than a technical instrument for change. It is not enough to simply create a highly trained evaluation capacity and expect that organizations and systems will eventually become more effective. This is particularly true in situations where a broad-based and systematic approach to M&E had not previously existed, as in the case of many developing countries. There is a need to also address the institutional capacity and indeed the drivers that are generating the demand for Evaluation.

The author will present a framework that identifies four broad building blocks needed for an effective M&E system: (i) vision; (ii) an enabling environment; (iii) the infrastructure to supply M&E information; and, (iv) the infrastructure to demand and use M&E information.

A set of twelve ‘Critical Success Factors’ are identified that recognize the importance of positioning M&E within a broader context than simply a technical one; that is, also recognizing the political support factors needed to launch and sustain an effective M&E system. And, for each element of the framework examined, comment will be provided (drawing on standard practices from other countries) to advise on an appropriate strategy for M&E capacity building.

While cautioning that ‘one size does not fit all’, the framework can indeed serve as a useful guide or ‘diagnostic tool’ to international M&E system development in many ways: in planning; in assessing progress and identifying gaps; and, as a communication vehicle and springboard to inform and educate technical and non-technical personnel alike on the various ways that knowledge-building and innovation are being introduced into public sector organizations.

Key words: international, M&E capacity building, M&E system

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