Monitoring can be defined as: “A continuing process that uses systematic collection of data on specified indicators to provide management and stakeholders with indications of progress and the achievement of objectives in the use of allocated funds”.
Thus monitoring is the regular tracking of inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts of development activities at the project, program and sector levels.
Evaluation can be defined as “the process of determining the worth or significance of a development activity, policy or program … to determine the relevance of objectives, the efficacy of design and implementation, the efficiency or resource use, and the sustainability of results.
An evaluation should (enable) the incorporation of lessons learned into the decision-making process of both partner and funder”.
Monitoring and evaluation are synergistic. Monitoring information is a necessary but not sufficient input to the conduct of rigorous evaluations.
While monitoring information can be collected and used for ongoing management purposes, reliance on such information on its own can introduce distortions because it typically covers only certain dimensions of a project’s or program’s activities, and careful use of this information is needed to avoid unintended behavioural incentives.
In contrast, evaluation has the potential to provide a more balanced interpretation of performance. But evaluation is a more detailed and time-consuming activity, and because of its greater cost it needs to be conducted more sparingly.
One approach is to rely on monitoring information to identify potential problem issues requiring more detailed investigation via an evaluation.
M&E can be conducted using a wide array of tools, methods and approaches.
These include, for example:
- performance monitoring indicators
- a logic framework;
- formal surveys such as service delivery surveys,
- client stakeholder interviews,
- focus group discussions,
- facilitated brainstorming,
- economic impact analysis
- and cost-benefit analysis.