Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a tool to be used to support planning, directing and decisions with the ultimate goal of continuous programme improvement. It helps improve the effectiveness of ongoing and future programmes and while also applying knowledge learned from past programmes.
The purpose of M&E is:
- To provide regular information on project performance in turn promoting efficient and effective implementation and operation of projects.
- To inform the planning and design of future projects.
Monitoring is essential during the programme implementation to track daily operations, ensure that everything is running according to plan and provide data to help managers determine if activities need adjustment. The purpose of programme monitoring is to refine and optimize the approach to delivering the programme to the beneficiaries. Routine programmatic monitoring includes context, process, output, and outcome monitoring, where:
- Output monitoring is required to track daily operations, assess whether programme implementation is running according to plan.
- Process monitoring tracks the quality of the services delivered and may consider the perceptions of the people receiving the programme services.
- Outcome monitoring which requires data collection at the start of a programme (to provide a baseline) and at repeated intervals to monitor changes in the target population.
Evaluation should happen at key milestones during a programme life-cycle to inform relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and impact measuring the success of the project relative to its stated objectives.
Evaluations provide recommendations, which can be used to inform the M&E systems should be as simple and user-friendly as possible, focusing on the essential types of data but avoiding overloading - any M&E system can serve its purpose only if it is actually used and functioning.