Monitoring and evaluation are essential to any project or program. Through this process, organizations collect and analyze data, and determine if a project/program has fulfilled its goals. Monitoring begins right away and extends through the duration of the project. Evaluation comes after and assesses how well the program performed. Every organization should have an M&E system in place. Here are ten reasons why:
M&E results in better transparency and accountability
Because organizations track, analyze, and report on a project during the monitoring phase, there’s more transparency. Information is freely circulated and available to stakeholders, which gives them more input on the project. A good monitoring system ensures no one is left in the dark. This transparency leads to better accountability. With information so available, organizations need to keep everything above board. It’s also much harder to deceive stakeholders.
M&E helps organizations catch problems early
Projects never go perfectly according to plan, but a well-designed M&E helps the project stay on track and perform well. M&E plans help define a project’s scope, establish interventions when things go wrong, and give everyone an idea of how those interventions affect the rest of the project. This way, when problems inevitably arise, a quick and effective solution can be implemented.
M&E helps ensure resources are used efficiently
Every project needs resources. How much cash is on hand determines things like how many people work on a project, the project’s scope, and what solutions are available if things get off course. The information collected through monitoring reveals gaps or issues, which require resources to address. Without M&E, it wouldn’t be clear what areas need to be a priority. Resources could easily be wasted in one area that isn’t the source of the issue. Monitoring and evaluation helps prevent that waste.
M&E helps organizations learn from their mistakes
Mistakes and failures are part of every organization. M&E provides a detailed blueprint of everything that went right and everything that went wrong during a project. Thorough M&E documents and templates allow organizations to pinpoint specific failures, as opposed to just guessing what caused problems. Often, organizations can learn more from their mistakes than from their successes.
M&E improves decision-making
Data should drive decisions. M&E processes provide the essential information needed to see the big picture. After a project wraps up, an organization with good M&E can identify mistakes, successes, and things that can be adapted and replicated for future projects. Decision-making is then influenced by what was learned through past monitoring and evaluation.
M&E helps organizations stay organized
Developing a good M&E plan requires a lot of organization. That process in itself is very helpful to an organization. It has to develop methods to collect, distribute, and analyze information. Developing M&E plans also requires organizations to decide on desired outcomes, how to measure success, and how to adapt as the project goes on, so those outcomes become a reality. Good organizational skills benefit every area of an organization.
M&E helps organizations replicate the best projects/programs
Organizations don’t like to waste time on projects or programs that go nowhere or fail to meet certain standards. The benefits of M&E that we’ve described above – such as catching problems early, good resource management, and informed decisions – all result in information that ensures organizations replicate what’s working and let go of what’s not.
M&E encourages innovation
Monitoring and evaluation can help fuel innovative thinking and methods for data collection. While some fields require specific methods, others are open to more unique ideas. As an example, fields that have traditionally relied on standardized tools like questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, and so on can branch out to video and photo documentation, storytelling, and even fine arts. Innovative tools provide new perspectives on data and new ways to measure success.
M&E encourages diversity of thought and opinions
With monitoring and evaluation, the more information the better. Every team member offers an important perspective on how a project or program is doing. Encouraging diversity of thought and exploring new ways of obtaining feedback enhance the benefits of M&E. With M&E tools like surveys, they’re only truly useful if they include a wide range of people and responses. In good monitoring and evaluation plans, all voices are important.
Every organization benefits from M&E
While certain organizations can use more unique M&E tools, all organizations need some kind of monitoring and evaluation system. Whether it’s a small business, corporation, or government agency, all organizations need a way to monitor their projects and determine if they’re successful. Without strong M&E, organizations aren’t sustainable, they’re more vulnerable to failure, and they can lose the trust of stakeholders.