“M&E” has become a standard combination in most CV’s, profiles, ToR’s, articles and even search terms.
And that in spite of their very different concepts and meanings.
Let me explain….
MONITORING is supposed to check the progress of the project by keeping an eye on RISKS and ASSUMPTIONS that affect the RESULTS. Project Managers are responsible for implementation of the activities and for delivering the RESULTS. Although they may rely on their experience and findings from evaluations of similar projects, the context of the project can easily, rapidly and drastically change. A separate monitor in the project can be of great help to the PM by ‘ringing the bell’ about a potential threat to the success of the project. Clearly the MONITOR should work hand-in-hand with the PROJECT MANAGER and make instant tactical modifications of the project design to avoid or respond to the threats and changing context.
EVALUATION on the other hand verifies the success of the project and programme by checking the UTILISATION of for achieving the PURPOSE and contributing to IMPACT, the Overall Objectives. Interestingly the END-USERS will provide reliable information on that UTILISATION because it depends on them and involves their lives. NOT the project or programme staff as they are biased in recognising success. End-users may possibly appreciate the project results, but may complain about other factors that inhibit the use of those results. Those factors may have been identified as ASSUMPTIONS in the plan or may not have, but are usually far out of the focus of the project or programme and could be taken into account by another project or by a major strategic modification to the existing project.
Looking at the differences between MONITORING and EVALUATION we notice that monitoring is close to the PROJECT and the Project Manager, while evaluation is close to the END-USERS! Actually the more evaluators relate with project staff the more biased they may become. This may also be the case when the project has been involved in drafting the Terms of Reference and in selecting those end-users to visit…. As such … EVALUATORS need to operate independently from the projects and consult primarily the END-USERS of the project. Even a visit to the project site may endanger their independence. Thus evaluators can best be recruited from candidates who are locally well known, speak the local language, and are familiar with the local cultures. Actually End-Users themselves are probably the best Evaluators if they can do away of their pre-conceived ideas and canLISTEN to other End-Users.
So let’s use PM&M as a combination and separate E … and combine E&L. …
EVALUATION & LEARNING!