|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|
An on-going process of continuous monitoring of the project is essential if the problems are to be identified early enough before they get worse, and solutions found to them. Monitoring the performance of a project (or enterprise) is an important management tool. Evaluation, on the other hand, is a more long term tool of analysis of the performance of the project. It tests the project against its intended objectives. Let us illustrate.
Asante Shoe Repairs
This is a hypothetical case. Ndege, Elinasi and Sinamacho set up a shoe-repairing shop called Asante Shoe Repairs. Ndege and Elinasi were physically impaired and Sinamacho was blind. Ndege had all the necessary skills for shoe repairing, and he took on Elinasi and Sinamacho as apprentices. They managed to get a loan from a bank to buy the necessary tools, leather, strings, glue and other items, and they hired a shop.
For the first year things were going well. But suddenly, the relations between them began to go sour. Ndege took all the decisions, and this was sometimes resented by Elinasi and Sinamacho. But they did not complain because they were apprentices. Elinasi used to repair women's shoes, but she developed skills for designing shoes that could be useful to diversify the business from simply repairing to making new shoes for women. But this required further investment. Ndege would not listen.
Sinamacho, too, was getting frustrated. He would sometimes not turn up for work at all. Business began to suffer. In the meantime, the price of leather shot up. But they could not pass on the increased cost to the customers for fear of losing them. On account of inflation, even the bank raised the interest on their loan. Because of these changed circumstances, the profits of Asante Shoe Repairs went down, and the three partners could not even draw their monthly salaries.
Let us now analyse what happened. There are two important things to notice about the story.
a) One is that Ndege was taking all the decisions. This was all right as long as he was training the other two as apprentices. But as the two acquired skills they felt they had something to contribute by way of making decisions.
b) The second is that circumstances changed. The price of leather went up. So did the interest rate. On the other hand, Elinasi proved to be quite a genius. Her designing potential came to the fore, and she had bright ideas on how to diversify the business into designing as well as repairing.
What is the moral of the story? It is this, that even if all the planning is done correctly, and a project put on the ground on a firm basis, this does not ensure its success. You need to continuously MONITOR the progress, or lack of progress, of the project. Why? Because things change. Things develop. And they can develop both on the negative as well as on the positive side. You have got to take into account the changed circumstances, and adapt accordingly: take advantage of positive developments, and try to resolve problems that might have arisen.
In the case of Asante Shoe Repairs, a weekly monitoring system should have been set up right from the start. Had they done so, Ndege would have realised that his partners were not going to remain "apprentices" forever. Also, the reason for Sinamacho absenting himself from work would have been analyzed, and Elinasi's ideas would have had a fair chance of being considered. Also, they would have looked into the implications for business of the rise in the price of the loan and the leather.
This is what we know as monitoring. You keep a periodic, but continuous, watch over the progress and the changed circumstances of your business (or project), and you make the necessary changes to accommodate the new situation.
Evaluation is much like monitoring, but it usually comes at the end of a longer period of time. It is also more comprehensive. And often the project holders engage an outside professional to come and do an objective and critical evaluation of the project.
In the case of Asante Shoe Repairs, being a small company, they could have carried out an evaluation themselves. On the other hand, since the relationship between the partners had become a bit strained, they could have asked an outside evaluator to come and look into their business and find out what was going right and what was going wrong. The evaluator would have carried out both a financial and business analysis of the company as well as a "structural" analysis, i.e. an analysis of the organisation and decision-making structures of the enterprise.
When a project is funded by a donor agency, it is usual for the donor to seek its evaluation at the end of the project period, or mid-way between the project cycle. The donor normally likes to know if the money given as a loan or a grant has been used according to the initially agreed objectives and conditions, and what needs to be done if things are not going according to plan.
Here it is important to introduce the concept of participatory evaluation. This is evaluation by an external person (or company) with the participation of the project holders. The advantage here is that it combines the skills and objective perspective of an outside evaluator with the project holders' knowledge of the inner dynamics of the organisation or project.
The evaluator holds a mirror through which the project holders engage in a critical self-appraisal.
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.
A. Far Persons with Disability
· PWDs must maintain regular monitoring of the performance of the enterprise. As the proverb goes: "A stitch in time saves nine."
· In monitoring, they must maintain an open mind about being criticised for their limitations, and be prepared to amend or repair damage.
· The same applies to evaluation, except that it has to be much more rigorous and planned in detail.
· They should employ external evaluators where necessary. However, they must retain full internal control of the enterprise and the processes of transformation.
B. For the Government
· It should monitor the quality performance of IGPs.
· It should ensure that foreign funded projects do not destroy or impair local initiative.
C. For NGOs, INGOs and Donors
· They should not use evaluation as a policing
Some Areas fur Further Discussion
In spite of the obvious advantages of regular monitoring of the performance of IGPs, it is seldom done. What explains this refusal to utilize one of the most useful tools of management? Could it be linked with a dictatorial style of management?
How does a dictatorial style of management affect the monitoring and evaluation of the project?
What is the difference between monitoring and evaluation? What different objectives do they fulfil?
What are the advantages of "participatory evaluation"? When may an outsider evaluator be called upon to help with an evaluation process?
Look at the examples given in Chapter 8 again, and consider the
reasons for their success or