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Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring? Evaluation? Isn’t it the same?

Don’t be fooled. 

The fact that the terms Monitoring and Evaluation often goes together and is called “M&E” is somewhat misleading.

When governments or development organisations use the term “Monitoring & Evaluation”, however, they mean something very specific: Monitoring & Evaluation is about collecting and analysing data and reporting on findings on how well a programme, a policy, a service or an organisation is performing, and making a judgement about its value.

It is true that Monitoring & Evaluation frequently share similar tools and methods. While they are interrelated, Monitoring & Evaluation are clearly separate activities.

So no, it’s NOT the same – it’s actually quite different. Monitoring and Evaluations are usually carried out by different people and differ in how often they are carried out.

Ok. So what is monitoring?

In a nutshell: Monitoring is like the dashboard of your car when you are driving: It tells you have fast you go, how much petrol you have left, or maybe if one of the car’s door has been left open.

In governments and development organisations, monitoring is he regular and systematic collectionanalysisreporting and use of information about programmes, policies or services.

Monitoring is concerned with the performance of a programme, a policy or a service. Unlike an evaluation, it is typically conducted internally. That means monitoring is typically carried out by staff that works inside an organisation. And unlike evaluations, it is a continuous process. That means it is carried out non-stop during – and sometimes after – an activity. Monitoring typically supports the management of programmes, policies or services, and helps to manage its risks.

…and what is evaluation?

Evaluations are like the occasional check-up of your car: Evaluations are a systematic and impartial assessment of expected and achieved accomplishments.

Evaluations take a step back to look – as the term suggests – at the overall value of a programme, a policy or a service. Evaluations are usually conducted externally. That means evaluations are typically carried out by evaluators or specialists with no link to a programme, policy, service or organisation. Having independent, external evaluators should insure a more unbiased judgement. Unlike monitoring, an evaluation is not carried out all the time, but is a one-off activity. Typically, evaluations are carried out during or at the end of an activity.

And evaluations are more systematic than monitoring: Here are some typical questions an evaluation attempts to answer:

  • Is a programme, a policy, a service or an organization relevant? Does it suit the priorities and policies of the target group?
  • Is it effective? Does it achieve results?
  • Is it efficient? Does it achieve results at reasonable costs?
  • Does it have impact? What real difference has a programme, a policy or a service made to for beneficiaries?
  • Is it sustainable? Will positive changes continue once funding is cut?

That is why evaluations tend to be broader in scope then monitoring.

Categories
Innovation Monitoring and Evaluation

M&E needs to change. We need to change.

Monitoring and Evaluation is an exciting area of work because it is currently undergoing rapid changes.

Countries and organizations are increasingly taking innovative approaches to monitor and evaluate the performance of programmes, policies, services or organizations.

There are several reasons why this is happening.

‘RESULTS’ ARE HERE TO STAY

First, citizens, parliaments and donors are rightly demanding to know what results are being achieved with their money. Today, it has become unacceptable to simply report back on the number of people that were trained. Instead, Monitoring and Evaluation is challenged to provide meaningful information about real changes as the result of a policy, a programme or a service.

INCREASING COMPLEXITY AND SPEED

Second, we live in an increasingly complex and fast-changing environment. We need Monitoring and Evaluation that can capture complex cause and effects and provide quick, real-time feedback to tweak or change a programme, a policy or a service.

ACCELERATING TECHNOLOGY

Third, technology keeps accelerating at an increasing speed. This opens a wide range of opportunities for innovations in Monitoring and Evaluation. We are just only beginning to explore the opportunities of ‘big data’, the ubiquitous use of smart phones, the use of satellite images and drones.