What Is Monitoring and Evaluation? (With Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 13, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The monitoring and evaluation process is integral to any project. It helps project managers track the progress and ensures that the project remains on time. Understanding this process can help you consistently assess projects and improve your project management skills. In this article, we answer the question, "What is monitoring and evaluation?", highlight its importance, and outline the different types of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes.

What is monitoring and evaluation?

To answer the question, "What is monitoring and evaluation?", it can help to consider how this process usually includes assessing the efficiency of implementing different operations. The monitoring and evaluation process is a systematic activity of assessing the development and progress of a project and reporting to stakeholders. This process involves the use of data and metrics to discover possible issues with the implementation process. It concerns itself with the cost of implementation, the departments that lead the implementation, and the number of services or products delivered.

Evaluation usually determines the project's results. It examines the project's outcomes and determines whether it meets its core objectives. The evaluation process may also involve noting unexpected effects and results of the project. Evaluation tools aim to assess project necessity, sustainability, impact, efficiency, and effectiveness. Project managers gather information during the monitoring phase that typically forms the foundation of evaluations.

Related: What Are Monitoring and Evaluation Tools? (With Tips)

Importance of monitoring and evaluation

Here are reasons using M&E tools can be beneficial:

Keeps shareholders and investors informed

There are multiple procedures and steps to follow when planning and executing a project. The company may conduct surveys in the preliminary stage to understand the market and test the project's feasibility. While monitoring these activities, it's important for the management to inform stakeholders and key investors about their findings. During the project's development phase, it's important for shareholders to know about any challenges the team faces and any new initiative it implements.

These investors may provide critical insights and perspectives on the project, and their contributions may help its development. The project may require a conclusive report at its conclusion. By using M&E tools, project managers can write consistent reports and updates that form part of the conclusive report.

Related: A Complete Guide to Performing a Stakeholder Analysis

Determines risk and reward

Monitoring tools may help the company gather essential data regarding a project. Using this data enables company executives to determine the potential risk and reward of a project. If the risk outweighs the predicted benefits, they may end the project. Evaluation tools can also outline the projected returns on company projects and investments.

Monitors resources

Using the data they gain during the monitoring process, the company's management team can determine the resources that the project needs. They may use this to draw a budget for efficiently allocating these resources. Monitoring also shows the team the essence of the project and encourages them to commit to it. This may be especially beneficial to stakeholders who fund the project. The M&E process allows the management team to decide whether extra resources are necessary. It also shows them what resources are wasteful to the project.

Encourages innovation and new ideas

The M&E process allows project managers to explore new options and alternatives. By recording the data and progress of the projects, they can identify the aspects to optimize. These records and reports ensure that information is readily available for team members, consultants, and investors who can suggest unique ideas. By constantly assessing the state of resources, project managers can choose viable alternatives if there are emergencies.

Related: A Guide to Measuring SaaS Metrics to Monitor Success

Identify problems early

Consistently monitoring and evaluating a project helps the management team identify potential problems and challenges early. This allows them to find and implement solutions that prevent delays and disruptions in the project. M&E tools may help define the project scope, prevent and resolve disagreements, and make provisions for emergencies. By monitoring the project, managers can ensure that it remains on track and follows the due processes.

Related: How to Manage Projects Effectively (Including Tips)

Improves the decision-making process

M&E tools provide helpful data and statistics that the management teams can consider when making decisions. It also helps them remain organized and defines the project's specific success measures. Using M&E tools in previous projects can equip the management with reports on their mistakes, budgets, expenses, and successes. They can use the strategies of previous projects as a guide for implementing new projects. Project managers can also review and avoid the mistakes and failures of previous projects.

Related: What Are Project Management Basics? (With 5 Key Phases)

Ensures accountability

Tracking the progress of projects and reporting its use of resources helps the project managers remain accountable. It assures stakeholders and investors of the transparency and integrity of the company's activities. Monitoring and evaluation provide these key investors with the information they require to assess the project's success. It also involves writing reports that the company can use to review the project's goals and adjust them as needed. Monitoring also ensures that project managers, department heads, and leaders perform their tasks efficiently.

Types of monitoring

Managers conduct different types of monitoring at various stages of the project, and they include:

Process monitoring

Process monitoring, or activity monitoring, describes the consistent tracking that occurs during the initial stage of a project. Managers may track the use of resources, the implementation of different strategies, and the completion of activities. The essence of this monitoring is to ensure that all activities concerning the project occur according to the schedule. Project managers ensure that the project follows a defined structure and adopts different organizational techniques. They may collect necessary data and create monitoring reports highlighting the project's progress. These managers may use checklists and guidelines to assess the phases of the project.

Related: A Guide to Project Management Leadership Styles (With Tips)

Compliance monitoring

Compliance monitoring ensures that the project follows and obeys all the applicable regional guidelines. Project managers research the local laws, environmental policies, and ethical standards that apply to the project and ensure that they follow these regulations. They also monitor the activities of the personnel and ensure their compliance with organizational rules. Before beginning the project, managers typically inform employees of the company guidelines. Compliance monitoring also ensures that the project meets its defined objectives and maintains its scope. It also involves identifying compliance risks and making recommendations to avoid them.

Financial monitoring

Financial monitoring typically involves assessing a project's financial strength and state. Project managers use the budget as a guide when preparing expenses for the project. Financial monitoring ensures that these expenses match the statements in the budget. It also involves assessing reports to identify ways of optimizing the project and minimizing cost. Project managers create financial reports that outline the utilization of resources. Financial reporting may also involve recommending practical solutions to ensure the project meets its financial goals and targets.

Related: Program Evaluation: Benefits and When to Implement It

Context monitoring

Context monitoring involves assessing the external factors that may affect the project. Project managers analyze the environmental, institutional, and political risks. It helps them identify potential challenges on time and propose solutions. This also helps them mitigate the effect these risks may have on the project.

Types of evaluation

Here are popular types of evaluation:

Outcome evaluation

The outcome evaluation aims to analyze the project's long-term effects. This evaluation helps project managers understand how the project achieved its goals and objectives. It measures the results and uses this to determine the project's performance. The evaluation can help project managers make vital decisions on modifying the project or changing its strategies.

Impact evaluation

Impact evaluation assesses the project's effect and determines its success. It measures the short-term and long-term changes that occur due to the project. The evaluation may determine the project's social impact and how it benefits the target market. The impact evaluation can help the company know whether redesigning or improving the project is necessary.

Formative evaluation

Project managers conduct the formative evaluation before the project commences. During the evaluation, they collect relevant data and surveys to monitor the program's various processes. The evaluation also highlights the project's priorities and areas that require more resources and initiatives. It also helps project managers provide for potential emergencies.

Summative evaluation

The summative evaluation occurs after the completion of the project. It outlines data that shows how the project achieved its goals and managed its resources. Project managers use this evaluation to prepare reports concerning the project and justify its expansion.

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