Friday, July 12, 2013

Partcipatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Like It?


Getting the understanding right from the start

Monitoring and Evaluation has indeed been used as a powerful management tool by many organizations to assess actual change against stated objectives. However, these days because of the need for stakeholders involvement in the project cycle, many stakeholders particularly the beneficiaries, government line ministries, non-government organizations and civil society organizations are starting to realize the need to get involved in the Monitoring and Evaluation process. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation folks is all about making the stakeholders participate in the whole project cycle. But let us dig a little deeper and try to understand what Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation really is.

Definition of Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

The working definition for Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation is defined as the involvement of key stakeholders (primary beneficiaries, civil society organizations, right based organizations, non-governmental organizations and governments) in Monitoring and Evaluating project and programme activities. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation involves the use of participatory techniques within a conventional Monitoring and Evaluation setting and this has resulted in stakeholders being empowered to take drastic action, improve in public accountability and improve their information provision for strategic planning at different levels. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation can therefore provide more comprehensive information on efficiency, relevance, sustainability, impact and effectiveness of working in progress. By learning from mistakes it can lead to timely corrective action. By highlighting the successes of peoples efforts it can lead to increased motivation. The systematic and conventional and continual exchange of information can also strengthen working relationships. As the effectiveness of Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation is based on sharing information, it requires careful identification of those who should share information and what information is worth sharing.

Differences in the principles of conventional and participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

What really are the differences in participatory Monitoring and Evaluation as compared to conventional Monitoring and Evaluation if you come to think of it? There are basically three differences namely;

1) Beginning of the process; In conventional Monitoring and Evaluation the donor begins the process of applying Monitoring and Evaluation in the implementing partners but with Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation both the donor and the project stakeholders begin the process.

2) Accountability; Conventional Monitoring and Evaluation primarily focuses on being accountable to the donor while in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, the accountability issue is not only applied to the donor but also to other stakeholders as well.

3) Mode of reporting; In Conventional Monitoring and Evaluation reporting is done primarily for the donor but in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation reporting is for both the donor and implementing organization. The implementing organization uses the reports to build their own capacity and draw lessons.

There are alot of benefits of implementing participatory approaches such as organizational strengthening, information provision at different levels and better understanding of the realities and therefore more realistic and appropriate plans. Great stuff right?
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The timing of Evaluations


Three types of Evaluations 

When it comes to timing of conducting evaluations there are basically three types of Evaluations that any project or programme may undergo. These three evaluations are namely (1) The Mid-term evaluation (2) End of Programme Evaluation and (3) Post-Programme Evaluation. All of them are very important and highly useful but that doesn't necessarily mean you should do all of them. Before we actually learn when to decide when to do what, you must understand that every project or programme must undergo an Evaluation. But before we get into the neatty gritties lets understand the three types of Evaluations in detail.

Post, Mid-term and End of Programme Evaluation

1) Mid-Term Evaluation; This is an evaluation conducted midway through the programme or project implementation. so if your project or programme is 4 years then your mid-term evaluation will be conducted after two years. If your programme is 5 years then your mid term evaluation will be conducted after two and a half years. The main aim of this kind of evaluation is to draw lessons on the project or programmes implementation so that corrective action may be taken for the remaining years. Things that are looked into include the projects or programmes strengths or weaknesses and other constraints that may be affecting the project or programmes implementation.

2) End of Programme Evaluation; This kind of evaluation is conducted right at the end of the projects or programmes completion. This is the kind of evaluation that is conducted most of the times apart from the fact that organizations would like to draw lessons, the main aim of undertaking this kind of evaluation is to assess the achievements against goals and objectives, assessment of how resources are used as well as understanding some other challenges that may have occurred during implementation. This evaluation also aims to measure the performance by measuring the programmes or projects effectiveness or efficiency.

3) Post-Programme Evaluation; This kind of evaluation is conducted after the phase out of the programme in order to assess the long term impacts of the project. Doing this kind of evaluation can help determine the sustainability of the programme or project and help duplicate better efforts in other target groups or areas.

Deciding which one to do

You must realize that conducting an end or programme/ project evaluation is a must do for any programme or project out there. The reasons are obvious....But then when do you decide to conduct a mid-term evaluation and Post-Programme evaluation.? A mid term evaluation can be conducted especially if there are funds allocated to this activity. The whole idea is to further improve the implementation so that the final result at the end of the life span is good. So basically at planning, if you see a need to have it there then have it. But there may be cases when it wasn't budgeted for but you still think it is necessary to have one especially when you observe that the implementation is going as planned, what can you do? Many have learn't to source for funds from elsewhere which ofcourse is really tricky. So in a nut shell when do you do a Mid term evaluation?
  • If you feel that the programme or project is not moving as planned
  • If you feel you can do better as a project or programme
  • If you want more answers on your project or programme
  • If your want to draw lessons and take corrective action
What about a Post-Programme Evaluation? getting to know the long term implication of your developmental intervention can be really beneficial especially when you would like to duplicate such efforts where you see there is definitely sustainability seen after the phase out. If you want that, then Post-Programme Evaluation may be the answer.

Great stuff right?
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Preparing yourself for a Monitoring and Evaluation presentation


Learning the Art of presentation is Key!

A Monitoring and Evaluation person is not just a person who is able to collect, analyze and write a good report, but he/she is somebody who really packages himself in a very positive way. Yes you guessed it right, a Monitoring and Evaluation person should be good at presenting himself at the place of work and at an important workshop. Lets look at these things in detail and see what this really means, you better believe it.

Presentation in the Work Environment

If you are a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist working for any organization in this planet you must realize that you are a very, very important. You see sometimes people may brush aside the need to report results but these days everybody is demanding information, positive good information. There is no one better than you to collect that information. But how should you really package yourself when you are in the work environment.

1) Work Hard; Its obvious....TRUE. But you see working hard doesn't mean exhausting all your energy to the point you can't even have a good nights sleep but all it means is that you should be on top of your game. Make sure you report on time, make sure you are always there to answer technical Monitoring and Evaluation questions and make sure you look smart and think smart....GOT IT!!

2) Be Confident; Confidence begins in the mind and every step you make up and down the hallway at work will show to everyone whether you have what it takes to get the job done. When you feel confident you will automatically do a splendid job in your Monitoring and Evaluation responsibility. Take this advice seriously folks.

Presentation at workshops

When your boss tells you that you are to prepare a presentation on the progress of the project or programme you have to realize that he believes in you absolutely.....OKAY MAYBE THAT'S AN EXAGGERATION. But the point is this, you are the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and you have an important job to do during that workshop. What is key when presenting findings during a Monitoring and Evaluation workshop?

1) Speak clearly; When speaking to the masses in the workshop make it your point to speak clearly and make sense. Don't let the audience keep guessing about what you said but learn to drive a point home and also learn to adjust your voice projection appropriately. Learn to be analytical and speak analytically.

2) PowerPoint Presentation; Prepare a good neat power point presentation that is visible to everyone. Make sure that it isn't too fancy and the words are the right font size. Allow for questions along the way and respond to question in a convincing way.

3) Do your Home-Work; It is always important to really get to understand your results and Monitoring findings properly. Some people will ask you very tricky questions just to test your intelligence and if you are not prepared you can really be embarrassed with yourself.

Great staff!
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5 trying situations in the Monitoring and Evaluation field


Situations that can make Monitoring and Evaluation painfull

You know sometimes in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation, there are situations in developmental work which is such a pain!! you heard it, a big huge pain. Nothing is perfect in the developmental world but you have to admit that there are just some things that shouldn't ever be ignored. But what are basically some of the situations you may come across as you undertake Monitoring and Evaluation activities in whichever project or programmes you may come across. There are basically 5 situations that can cause a whole lot of pain as you undertake Monitoring and Evaluation activities.

5 painful experiences in Monitoring and Evaluation Work

1) Information Overload; There are developmental projects and programmes in the world that have a lot of developmental indicators present. They may obviously have a good reason for doing that but the point is, if you have over a 100 different indicators that arent so clear and that are really difficult to measure, that can cause a huge pain to Monitoring and Evaluation Staff. Why is it so painful anyway? Well collecting that information can be a pain, analyzing that information can be a pain and finally reporting that information can be a huge pain. It is always recommended to limit the number of indicators to just a few because that is more sustainable even to the Monitoring and Evaluation System.

2) Poor Communication; In the world of Monitoring and Evaluation information is key and every minute that passes by really matters. However, for Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinators sometimes it can be a huge pain if their juniors are not reporting information on time. Whats worse, if the information they really need is more to do with the project indicators. Sometimes Monitoring and Evaluation officers may also need information from the implementing partners or from field staff, when that information doesnt come in on time and they have a deadline to meet that can be really painful.

3) Baseline Crisis; Conducting a baseline survey is really fun a process for any Monitoring and Evaluation person but then you see, it can be really painful too. How so? You know sometimes Monitoring and Evaluation people are given a project or programme document which they didn't take part in developing and then suddenly they notice how extremely difficult it is to capture certain information due to poorly formulated indicators. But that isn't even the worst part, sometimes implementing organizations don't even prioritize conducting baseline surveys at all. That can be really painfull considering that an evaluation has to be conducted at some point.

4) Reporting Findings; You know Monitoring and Evaluation sometimes can be very painful especially when you have to report poor findings. Stakeholders usually expect alot from implementation of a programme or project especially if there is huge funds allocated to it. However, Monitoring and Evaluation Officers strive at all costs to report the truth whether good or bad. Its not really the reporting that's really difficult but its the reaction that some stakeholders have on the person who collected, analysed and reported the information. It can be really painful if after reporting poor results, people begin to actually think the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer made too many errors in his analysis when in actual fact he didn't. That can be really painful.

5) Capacity; Most implementing organizations dont have enough staff to really do a comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation activity. It can be really painful for a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer who has to absorb so much work load because of limited staff around.

Monitoring and Evaluation Rocks but not when its painful. Whatever the case, there is still alot to look forward to. Take Monitoring and Evaluation to a whole different level folks!
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting the Monitoring and Evaluation definitions right the first time


Common definitions in Monitoring and Evaluation

You may have had a lot of experience in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation but lets face it, sometimes certain terminologies just don't completely compute. Yes its true, sometimes no matter how hard you try to remember what that terminology is no matter how important it is, you simply just forget how to define it. Lets dive into a few definitions we can remind ourselves a little as we undertaken the Monitoring and Evaluation experience.

1) Activity; Activities are basically the actions that are to be taken in order to produce specific results or outputs. So think of activities as the actions that must be taken. Example of activities include the trainings of field staff in Monitoring and Evaluation, the actual Monitoring and Evaluation process e.t.c

2) Annual Work Plan; The annual work plan are the intended details of activities that are to be performed throughout the course of the year. When you prepare a workplan you are simply attempting to organize yourself in a proper and more systematic way that will allow for effective implementation of activities.

3) Monitoring and Evaluation Capacity; This is not necessarily the number of Monitoring and Evaluation officers you have in an organization. Capacity in this case refers to the ability of an organization to actually perform the Monitoring and Evaluation functions, including the skills necessary to perform them.

4) Performance; The degree to which a developmental intervention achieves its intended results. How then do you measure results in Monitoring and Evaluation? it is by use of performance indicators. Remember there are different types of indicators out there but you have to be sure of the right one. Indicators must always be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound).

5) Sustainability; This simply refers to the possibility that the intended benefits of a programme will continue on over years and years even when developmental support seizes. Why do donors especially emphasis that projects must be sustainable, isn't it obvious? At some point they would like to pull out and hope that the help rendered can produce long term results and continue on. Common even you wouldn't like your two year old baby to remain a baby forever.

6) Assumption; External factors that may affect the progress of the project whether good or bad.

7) Input; The resources that are needed in order to produce the intended outputs such as human resources, financial resources or material resources.

You will be amazed how easy it is for even the most experienced staff to forget these Monitoring and Evaluation definitions. You know what is even amazing, some people still don't know how to define Monitoring and Evaluation. However, you don't really have to know the exact definition for everything, what is important is to have a general idea of what you are dealing with. It would be interesting though to get some of your own way of defining some of these definitions above by placing your comments in the comments box below. Wanna try? Give it a shot!!!

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Analysis of data, adjustments and change in Monitoring and Evaluation


Analysis really matters....ALOT!!

If you are a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer working for a prestigeous organization out there you have to ask yourself these important questions...1) Are the Monitoring and Evaluation Findings making sense? 2) Are the Monitoring and Evaluation Findings answering the various questions which stakeholders really want to hear and 3) Are the Monitoring and Evaluation brining out the information in a constructive way? You see when you go out there to monitor activities, inputs or outputs all you are collecting is data. Data in its raw form doesn't really make sense but when you carry out a constructive analysis can you begin to bring out the information that people really want to see. Lets begin the Monitoring and Evaluation process shall we?

Definition of Data Analysis and Measuring Change

Analysis is basically the process of simplifying the data that you collected in the field into a form that people can really understand. There are many ways to perform an analysis but one way which most researchers including Monitoring and Evaluation specialists want to keep an eye on is computer software's partically designed for statistics. There are statistical packages like SPSS or STATA, however even Excel can do a very good job in bringing out the information to the audience you are communicating your Monitoring and Evaluation findings to. Analysis of qualitative data in Monitoring and Evaluation involves detailed descriptions in response to open ended questions and observations from the target group. While at the same time, analysis of quantitative data is basically similar bur can be done using simple statistics like averages,  percentages, forecasts and so on and so forth.

When it comes to measuring change in Monitoring and Evaluation, you want use analysis to the best way possible. Some of the notable points you should be sure to include in communicating your Monitoring and Evaluations findings and consequently communicating the change of the programme are the following namely;
  • A general statistical description of your target group
  • A general statistical analysis of the progress made in the different indicators. When communicating the progress in the various indicators try to show how progress has been achieved over the years or quarters of the implementation. You can make good use of percentage increases or decreases compared to the baseline value.
  • Graphical representation of the trends in results over the years since the beginning of the implementation of the programme.
When reporting change you can do well to also explain why the change occured and how better results can be achieved in future. But lets understand how you can actually communicate these results in Monitoring and Evaluation Foras.

Monitoring and Evaluation Fora's

In Monitoring and Evaluation Foras you can make good use to communicate your findings to the various audeinces you have invited who are usually the stakeholders.Now how do you structure your presentation so that when your begin presenting your Monitoring and Evaluation findings it actually ROCKS!!!

1) Start by Presenting the Monitoring and Evaluation findings that you got from the field
2) Afterwards make a Presentation of your personal Monitoring and Evaluation experiences in the field
3) Afterwards make a Presentation of your feelings as to whether any progress has been made and if not why?
4) Finally, offer recommendations to the audiences as to how best the programme implementation can be improved.

Be sure to always welcome the audience to provide their input on the presentation and findings collected. You can make this happen, all you have to do is try. Take Monitoring and Evaluation to a whole different level!
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Development of Programme Indicators in Monitoring and Evaluation


Programme Indicators are the best!!!

The development of programme indicators is not really a hard thing but its just some people these days don't really know how to formulate them to the best degree possible. You see folks, Monitoring and Evaluation is irrelevent if there are no indicators in a programme or project to measure. Think of it, what would you be measuring even if you had the best Monitoring and Evaluation System in the entire world? Now that we have an understanding of everything, just what are programme indicators and why are they necessary? The thing is this, most people would get the definition right but when it comes to formulation and development that can really, really be a big problem. Lets define things further shall we.

Definition of Indicators, the Real Deal!!

There are so many different kinds of indicators but in a nut shell, an indicator is a means to measure whether there is any progress taking place in the aspects of the programme. So in view of that, there are so many indicators such as input indicators, output indicators, outcome indicators and impact indicators. Indicators simply tell you whether there is any progress or not....GOT IT!!!!! Now why are indicators so important? That will be your home-work to find out but in the meantime we need to know how to develop these indicators. Lets begin the process of actually understanding how to develop these indicators before we dive into Monitoring and Evaluating the programme...GOT IT!!

Development of Indicators

Normally indicators are selected in the planning stage, no two ways about it folks. There are basically two main ways to select indicators..take it or leave it. The first way involves prior selection of indicators and the second comes from formulation of questions. In the first methodology you already have something planned while in the second one you ask a set of questions with the hope of developing an indicator. Makes sense?

There are two main types of indicators you will always come across in a programme as you Monitor and Evaluate. These are quantitative and qualitative indicators. Indicators that you can measure directly such as in the case of numbers or statistics are called quantitative indicators while indicators that cannot be easily measured and are dependent on perception or attitude are the qualitative indicators. So lets say that you have the indicators below as an example;

A) Grape Production among farmers in America

B) Quality of Grape Produce among farmers in America

Which of these two is a quantitative indicator and which one is a qualitative indicator in your view? You guessed right (A) is a quantitative indicator and (B) is a qualitative indicator. (A) can be measured easily using kilograms of produce while quality cannot be easily measured but relies on perception. Ofcourse that can be debated sometimes right?

But when formulating indicators there is one important rule that Monitoring and Evaluation Officers and other programme staff should never, ever forget....Indicators must always be SMART. What does SMART mean, here it is below folks. Monitoring and Evaluation has never gotten this interesting.
  • S- Specific
  • M-Measurable
  • A-Attainable
  • R-Realistic
  • T-Time bound
If you are formulating an indicator for your developmental programme or project don't create indicators that are just going to give you headaches to measure at the end of the day. These are just a few important pointers to getting the indicators you really want for your programme. In future we will go into much detail and really get to scrutinize indicators further. Take Monitoring and Evaluation to a whole different level folks, you better believe it.!

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