Infova Foundation having 22 Years of expertise in the area of project management:-

  • Program Design and Mobilization:Identifying,planning and organizing business activities.
  • Program Management and Delivery: Delivering business advantage and shareholder value.
  • Program Health check: Giving an impartial view to the program status.
  • Program Rescue: Delivering guidance to turnaround failing programs.
  • Project Management office and Program Management Services.

One of the reasons for project failure given in the now famous Standish Group Project Chaos Report (2005) is lack of project monitoring and control.

Project Monitoring and Control is more than just keeping a bird’s eye view on a project being implemented but goes further to deriving essential project accountability information.

Monitoring and evaluation of development activities provides program and project managers, including Government officials and civil society with better means for learning from past experience, improving service delivery, planning and allocating resources, and demonstrating results as part of accountability to key stakeholders.

Within any program or project there is a strong focus on results – this helps explain the growing interest in monitoring and evaluation.

Yet there is often confusion about what monitoring and evaluation entails. The purpose of this simplified monitoring and evaluation article is to strengthen awareness and interest in monitoring and evaluation.

It is also to clarify what it entails especially for struggling portfolio managers in Government-sponsored Public Sector Investment Projects (PSIPs).

What is monitoring and evaluation?

University of Zimbabwe lecturer in the Department of Rural and Urban Planning Mr Nelson Chanza confirms in one of his research papers that the terms “monitoring and evaluation” tend to run together as if they are one thing.

Monitoring and evaluation are, in fact, two distinct sets of organizational activities, related but not identical.

Monitoring is the systematic collection and analysis of information as a project progresses.

It is aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a project or organization.

It is based on targets set and activities planned during the planning phases of work.

It helps to keep the work on track, and can let management know when things are going wrong.

If done properly, it is an invaluable tool for good management, and it provides a useful base for evaluation.

It enables you to determine whether the resources you have available are sufficient and are being well used, whether the capacity you have is sufficient and appropriate, and whether you are doing what you planned to do.

Evaluation is the comparison of actual project impacts against the agreed strategic plans.

It looks at what you set out to do, at what you have accomplished, and how you accomplished it.

It can be formative (taking place during the life of a project or organization, with the intention of improving the strategy or way of functioning of the project or organization).

It can also be summative (drawing learning from a completed project or an organization that is no longer functioning).

Someone once described this as the difference between a check-up and an autopsy!

What monitoring and evaluation have in common is that they are geared towards learning from what you are doing and how you are doing it, by focusing on: efficiency, effectiveness, impact.

Efficiency tells you that the input into the work is appropriate in terms of the output. This could be input in terms of money, time, staff, equipment and so on.

When you run a project and concerned about its replicability or about going to scale, then it is very important to get the efficiency element right.

Effectiveness is a measure of the extent to which a development program or project achieves the specific objectives it set. If, for example, we set out to improve the qualifications of all the high school teachers in a particular area, did we succeed?

Impact tells you whether or not what you did made a difference to the problem situation you were trying to address.

In other words, was your strategy useful?

For instance, did ensuring that teachers were better qualified improve the pass rate in the final year of school?

Before you decide to get bigger, or to replicate the project elsewhere, you need to be sure that what you are doing makes sense in terms of the impact you want to achieve.

From this it should be clear that monitoring and evaluation are best done when there has been proper project planning against which to assess progress and achievements.

Why do monitoring and evaluation?

Project consultant monitoring and evaluation Janet Shapiro sums it up: “Monitoring and evaluation enable program managers to check the bottom line of development work and only focus on whether

its making a profit but also whether it is making a difference.”

Through monitoring and evaluation, project managers can review progress, identify problems in planning and/or implementation, and make adjustments so that you are more likely to make a difference.

In many organizations, monitoring and evaluation is something that is 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 well spent.

But the primary (most important) use of monitoring and evaluation should be for the organization or project itself 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.

Plans are essential but they are not set in concrete (totally fixed). If they are not working, or if the circumstances change, then plans need to change too.

Monitoring and evaluation are both tools, which help a project or organization know when plans are not working, and when circumstances have changed.

They give management the information it needs to make decisions about the project or organization, about changes that are necessary in strategy or plans.

Through this, the constants remain the pillars of the strategic framework: the problem analysis, the vision, and the values of the project or organization. Everything else is negotiable.

Getting something wrong is not a crime. Failing to learn from past mistakes because you are not monitoring and evaluating is.

The monitoring and evaluation cycle will be discussed in the future articles.

The Project Management Institute of Zimbabwe will be running a series of monitoring and evaluation competency-based training workshops for program and project managers during the whole of next month covering the key nuts and bolts of setting up a smart monitoring and evaluation system.