When you’re building a new monitoring and evaluation strategy or plan for an organisation the one thing that you need to ensure is that the whole team – from the CEO down – understands why M&E is needed and why it is part of their role.
Everyone at some point collects data, processes and analyses them and then reports on that data.
That means everyone is involved and needs to know which data are used for which reporting and management processes and how often those data are required. This should never be an add-on to someone’s core function, rather it is a key part of their core function.
Remember I previously wrote about the research into how organisations use monitoring, evaluation and learning that I had led for a group of funders a few years ago. The key points to come out of that research still stand:
- Strategic investment and funding: you have to invest proportionately to what you’re trying to do. You don’t have to buy an expensive online monitoring system if that isn’t what you need, but you do need a monitoring system that is fit for purpose. You also need to budget sensibly for evaluation and do so at the start of the programme, in fact the research found that many organisations regularly underspend on evaluation
- Leadership: the senior team always set the tone when it comes to investing in new systems and processes, so it is important that the senior team are seen not only to approve this work, but to full engage with monitoring and evaluation by participating, ensuring that the right data are used for reporting and checking that the systems and processes that are being built are still aligned with the vision of the organisation
- Staff Capacity: there is no point in building a bright shiny new system if no-one can operate it. In those instances, people will just design work-arounds that ignore the new system and duplicate work and effort. Invest in your team and invest in yourself to deliver this work in a way that adds value to the organisation and the people that work in it.
Getting these three aspects of MEL system design right is key to laying a good learning foundation in your organisation.
Have you been able to count on your leadership to support the development of monitoring, evaluation and learning at your organisation? Have you got sufficient resources to develop the kind of MEL system that the organisation needs? Have you and your team been trained and supported to take on a new MEL system?