|Sustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities: The Process of Self-Empowerment (ADF, 1995, 117 p.)|
|Section II: Building economic self-reliance|
|Chapter 8: Monitoring and evaluation: Measuring the success of IGPs|
Like planning, the concepts of monitoring and evaluation have to be "demystified," their "scare element" removed from them. The problem with many of these concepts is that "professionals" or "experts" seize them and occupy them, like seats. Then they give them some highly technical meaning, and surround them With a mystery only they can unfold. Ordinary people then get scared, and have to call in the "experts" to carry out monitoring and evaluation.
As the previous example of Asante Shoe Repairs shows, there is no mystery about these concepts. Every project should have a built-in mechanism for monitoring and evaluation. There are no standard techniques for monitoring and evaluation, though some "experts" claim their existence. With a bit of common sense and a lot of leadership skills (especially, openness of mind and willingness to be self-critical) any project holder can make his or her own instruments (methods) for self-monitoring and self-evaluation. Outside consultants may be asked to come in to help in the process, or to overcome some difficult problems, but overall, it is a process that the project holders must keep firmly in their hands. After all, it is they who have to take on the consequences of these processes.
Usually, when a project is funded by a donor it is the donor that requests an evaluation. Evaluation, consequently, has acquired a bad name - it is often seen by the project holders as a "policing" exercise by the donor. They think the donor is going to discover something wrong about the project and stop funding them.
Such a view of evaluation is both unhealthy and unconstructive. In fact, the project holders should not wait for a donor evaluation of their project. Whether the donor undertakes it or not, it is important that regular evaluation of the project is done by the project holders themselves. It is for their own benefit.
So how does one go about monitoring and evaluation? A few simple principles may help.
Monitoring questionnaire: Please fill out the following questions and return it to the manager by close of business every Friday:
1. Division: [eg, Designing shoes, or Sales Department]
And so on
Participants at the Entebbee workshop discussing evaluation methods. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
1. Management must insist on regular reporting by each person or each division (or department) on the condition of work (s)he or the division is engaged in. Depending on the size of the enterprise, the reporting could be a weekly affair or a monthly one. Again, depending on the size, the reports could be written or verbal.
2. It is better, as far as possible, to encourage a written report (even if it is only one page), because it helps to build a record of the performance. This is called "documentation." It is also called building an "institutional memory" of the enterprise. It is like a diary -you put on record what has been happening in your sector of work, the problems you have faced, the progress you have made, and so on.
The management can help the process by working out a simple, practical, questionnaire that every head of division has to fill out every week (or so) and submit to the manager.
3. It is important, however, not to make monitoring a " mechanical" exercise, something undertaken without heart, without spirit. The management has to motivate his/her cooperative members (or staff), and introduce a human dimension to their relations. Therefore, there should be regular monitoring meetings (say monthly or quarterly) at which the monitoring reports are collectively discussed and issues thrashed out in a participatory manner.
4. Following each monitoring meeting, an action plan must be worked out in order to handle issues discussed.
5. These, then, need to be followed up in subsequent monitoring reports and meetings.
1. Because it is a longer term exercise than monitoring, an evaluation has to be more carefully planned, and in greater detail.
2. It is important, first, to set out the objectives of the evaluation. What are we evaluating? What are we measuring? By what 11 criteria," or yardstick, would we regard our enterprise as being successful? These objectives must be set out in full consultation with the rest of the members of the group (or senior staff).
3. The statement of objectives must be followed by listing many questions that are critical to the evaluation process. These should deal both with the human dimensions of the enterprise (such as the decision-making process, power relationships within the enterprise) as well as with the technical and financial aspects.
4. Then, it is necessary to set out the methodology of the evaluation. How much time should be set aside for the evaluation -one month? six? Should it be through people filling out a questionnaire? Or should it be based on "depth interviews" of the key decision-makers? Or a combination of the two? Should we look at all the activities of the group In a comprehensive manner? Or should we just take a "sample" of the most important activities?
5. Following that, a team of evaluators must be appointed. It should be a small team - not more than three to four people. They could be appointed from within the enterprise -people who are respected for their work, leadership and fair-mindedness. It is also useful to attach to the team, preferably, somebody from the outside who can provide an "external" (and therefore a more "objective") perspective to the evaluation.
6. The Evaluation Report, as far as possible, should be a written one. Once again, it helps to build the "institutional memory' of the enterprise. It should end with a brief summary of the "main findings" (or conclusions), and a set of "recommendations" on how the enterprise might improve its performance.
7. The report should be discussed at various levels of the enterprise, and the members (or staff) should be given an opportunity to comment on the report, and make their own inputs. The report may need to be amended in the light of these inputs.
8. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations should become part of the future planning process of the enterprise.