Work in ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’!

Did you know? There are great job opportunities working on Monitoring and Evaluation in international development.

I did it. Successfully. My name is Thomas Winderl. Since over 15 years I am an independent consultant for Monitoring and Evaluation. What I do is not rocket science — and I am very good at it. Few others are. I don’t even need to apply for jobs. Clients usually come to me. Sounds interesting? So let’s get to it.

A great job opportunity

Monitoring and Evaluation is about measuring and tracking results of government and development programmes and judging their value.

Monitoring and Evaluation is an exciting and growing area in governance and international development:

It combines clear, logical and creative thinking, different techniques from social sciences, innovative communication techniques and cutting-edge technology for data collection and analysis.

Monitoring and Evaluation has for decades been a standard management tool for the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations. It is also growing in popularity across the globe, where more and more governments are setting up their own national Monitoring and Evaluation systems.

Why do need Monitoring and Evaluation?

There are three reasons why Monitoring and Evaluation can be useful for government and development programmes:

First, it can help us understand if we are achieving the results we want:

  • Do programmes and policies lead to the results that we planned?
  • Is it worth spending all that money compared to the results that were achieved?
  • And: Do programmes and policies make a positive difference in the lives of people?

Second, Monitoring and Evaluation can help us to improve — to do things better.

· It should provide us with evidence to swiftly adjust or correct programmes and policies

And third: Monitoring and Evaluation should help us learn more about what works and — equally important — what does not.

Remember (even if it wasn’t Einstein): Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

What is Monitoring and Evaluation?

When you hear the term “monitoring”, what comes to mind?

  • Right now, you may actually be looking at a screen that displays the output of a computer — a computer monitor.
  • or a geologist monitors the situation after an earth quake

What about “evaluating”?

  • You may evaluate the nutritional pros and cons of tonight’s dinner options.
  • or a medical doctor may use tests to evaluate your heart activity.

When governments or development organizations use the term “Monitoring & Evaluation”, however, they mean something very specific:

Monitoring & Evaluation is about collecting and analysing data and reporting on findings on how well a programme, a policy, a service or an organisation is performing, and making a judgement about its value.

What’s the difference?

Don’t be fooled.

The fact that the terms Monitoring and Evaluation often goes together and is called “M&E” is somewhat misleading.

It is true that Monitoring & Evaluation frequently share similar tools and methods.

While they are interrelated, Monitoring & Evaluation are clearly separate activities.

In fact, monitoring is very different from Evaluations.

They are usually carried out by different people and differ in how often they are carried out.

Let us look at it in more detail:

What is Monitoring?

Let’s first look at what monitoring is.

In a nutshell: Monitoring is like the dashboard of your car when you are driving: It tells you have fast you go, how much petrol you have left, or maybe if one of the car’s door has been left open.

In governments and development organizations, monitoring is the regular and systematic collection, analysis, reporting and use of information about programmes, policies or services.

Monitoring is concerned with the performance of a programme, a policy or a service.

Unlike an evaluation, it is typically conducted internally. That means monitoring is typically carried out by staff that works inside an organization.

And unlike evaluations, it is a continuous process. That means it is carried out non-stop during — and sometimes after — an activity.

Monitoring typically supports the management of programmes, policies or services, and helps to manage its risks.

What are evaluations?

Evaluations, on the other hand, are like the occasional check-up of your car.

Evaluations are a systematic and impartial assessment of expected and achieved accomplishments.

Evaluations take a step back to look — as the term suggests — at the overall value of a programme, a policy or a service.

Evaluations are usually conducted externally. That means evaluations are typically carried out by evaluators or specialists with no link to a programme, policy, service or organization. Having independent, external evaluators should insure a more unbiased judgement.

Unlike monitoring, an evaluation is not carried out all the time, but is a one-off activity. Typically, evaluations are carried out during or at the end of an activity.

And evaluations are more systematic than monitoring: Here are some typical questions an evaluation attempts to answer:

  • Is a programme, a policy, a service or an organization relevant? Does it suit the priorities and policies of the target group?
  • Is it effective? Does it achieve results?
  • Is it efficient? Does it achieve results at reasonable costs?
  • Does it have impact? What real difference has a programme, a policy or a service made to for beneficiaries?
  • Is it sustainable? Will positive changes continue once funding is cut?

That is why evaluations tend to be broader in scope then monitoring.

A rapid changing area of work

Monitoring and Evaluation is an exciting area of work because it is currently undergoing rapid changes.

Countries and organizations are increasingly taking innovative approaches to monitor and evaluate the performance of programmes, policies, services or organizations.

There are several reasons why this is happening.

· First, citizens, parliaments and donors are rightly demanding to know what results are being achieved with their money. Today, it has become unacceptable to simply report back on the number of people that were trained. Instead, Monitoring and Evaluation is challenged to provide meaningful information about real changes as the result of a policy, a programme or a service.

· Second, we live in an increasingly complex and fast-changing environment. We need Monitoring and Evaluation that can capture complex cause and effects and provide quick, real-time feedback to tweak or change a programme, a policy or a service.

Third, technology keeps accelerating at an increasing speed. This opens a wide range of opportunities for innovations in Monitoring and Evaluation. We are just only beginning to explore the opportunities of ‘big data’, the ubiquitous use of smart phones, the use of satellite images and drones.

Interesting?

If you want to find out more about Monitoring and Evaluation, check out our website at www.results-lab.com. The good news is: We also offer free online courses :-).

Specialist for Monitoring and Evaluation, trainer and teacher, life long learner.