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Need for Monitoring & Evaluation: The Impact Assessment Story

The questions, “what difference are we making?” “Are we fulfilling the


commitments we made to our donors”? “If not, what are the pitfalls?” “How can
we quantify our shortcomings and improve our methods”? Are some pertinent
questions that organizations’ managers should ask while implementing a project(s).

Monitoring and Evaluation comes as an indispensable management tool to


answering these questions. It contributes to the capacity building and management,
hence strengthening the institution. Its ultimate goal is to improve current outputs
via learning from the past and ultimately building a better future. With a
retrospective approach it equips the evaluator to look forward. Monitoring goes
along as the project progresses, keeping a check on sufficiency and adequacy,
while Evaluation occurs usually at the end of the project when it is time to
measure the impact as promised in the project charter. M&E helps build a causal
link between the outcome and the impact.

Monitoring is a round the clock activity, tracking the progress during the lifetime
of the project. It determines if everything is being processed and delivered as per
the schedule and aims to increase effectiveness and efficiency. For this objective, it
involves a logic model through which we can track input, processes, output and
outcomes by the means of indicator variables as forwarded in the proposal during
the planning phase. Hence monitoring becomes important as sometimes it is
necessary to modify the activities should it deviate from not achieving the desired
results.

Evaluation on the other hand is a scientific method of assessing achievements and


short comings of a project, either when the project terminates or during the middle.
It includes the strategy of looking at the aims and objectives; the difference made
and the difference that could have been made. The main agenda being to assess the
difference made in the lives of the beneficiaries or stakeholders. Evaluation
questions being purely based on project’s applicability and to point out the
outcome(s), suitable indicators are selected.

Monitoring and Evaluation is a joint process that adds value to the program and to
the organization in many ways. Talking specifically about the social programs, as
they are donor driven; along with efficiently reviewing the milestones and
outcomes comes the aspect, the answer to “what difference are we making”?
Emphasizing on the facts and figures that shape the organization into a key enabler
of bringing a societal change for the good. With outcomes from evaluation helping
to know how much of what are we giving back to the society.

On a concluding note, to build transparency, accountability and make progress,


undertaking M&E becomes important. As Brain Tracy said, “The true measure of
the value of any business leader and manager is performance”, so failing to learn
from mistakes committed because we were not monitoring and evaluating is a
crime but not committing them.

Palak Khanna