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Monitoring & Evaluation

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What is monitoring?

Monitoring is about collecting information that will help you answer questions about your project. It is important that this information is collected in a planned, organized and routine way. You can use this information to report on your project and to help you evaluate.

All organizations keep records and notes, and discuss what they are doing. This simple checking becomes monitoring when information is collected routinely and systematically against a plan. The information might be about activities or services, your users, or about outside factors affecting your organisation or project.

Monitoring information is collected at specific times: daily, monthly or quarterly. At some point you need to bring this information together so that it can answer questions such as:

  • how well are we doing?
  • are we doing the right things?
  • what difference are we making?

At this point you are starting to evaluate. While monitoring is routine and ongoing, evaluation is an in-depth study, taking place at specific points in the life of the project.

What is evaluation?

Evaluation is about using monitoring and other information you collect to make judgements about your project. It is also about using the information to make changes and improvements.

Evaluation aims to answer agreed questions and to make a judgement against specific criteria. Like other research, for a good evaluation, data must be collected and analysed systematically, and its interpretation considered carefully. Assessing ‘value’ – or the worth of something – and then taking action makes evaluation distinctive. The results of an evaluation are intended to be used.

There are many different perspectives and approaches to evaluation. Answering questions such as ‘Why are we doing it?’ ‘Who is the evaluation for?’ and ‘What are the key issues to address?’ will help you decide whether you wish to self-evaluate or to have an external evaluation. The questions will help you to think about what you want to focus on. For example, this could be:

  • your organisational structure and how it works
  • how you carry out your services or activities
  • how users experience the project
  • what changes or benefits the project brings about

Why evaluate?

CES’ approach is that monitoring and evaluation not only measure how well you are doing, but also help you to be more effective. Evaluation has two main purposes:

For learning and development

Monitoring and evaluating your services will help you assess how well you are doing in order to help you do it better. It is about asking what has happened and why – what is and what is not working. It is about using evaluation to learn more about an organisation’s activities, and then using what has been learnt.

For accountability – to show others that you are effective

Funders and other ‘stakeholders’ want to know whether a project has spent its money appropriately. There is pressure from funders to provide them with evidence of success. Many projects have to respond to this demand in order to survive.

 

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