M&E capacity assessment encourages participants to take control of the organization’s M&E processes. The participatory approach is used to include the individuals who carry out the day-to-day operations of their organizations and aids in the establishment of performance expectations and capability assessments. The findings can help staff design interventions to enhance M&E capacity, create an action plan, monitor activities, and assess changes in M&E system performance over time. It aims to achieve the following goals:
- To comprehend, record, and clearly state the M&E performance goals of an organization.
- To assess the performance and capacity levels in the M&E capacity areas.
- To pinpoint any gaps in an organization’s ability to achieve M&E performance goals.
How to determine M&E capacity
The following questions should be asked:
- Is there a specific organization or department in charge of monitoring and evaluating?
- If so, how many employees are there, and what are their current duties in terms of gathering, processing, analysing, and producing reports?
- If not, who will be tasked with carrying out and performing monitoring functions?
- What qualifications and expertise does the proposed or current staff possess?
- What tools are at the disposal of the M&E unit or other accountable unit?
- Think about things like vehicles, computers (hardware and software), and ongoing operating budgets.
- Are there any standardized practices for monitoring and evaluating, such as:
- Targets are specified in plan documents.
- Regular and sporadic surveys, as well as reporting and disseminating results.
Assessing Training Needs
How may a training needs analysis be carried out either before or after the M&E plan has been created and a budget set? The following factors affect staff members’ performance and behaviour:
- Knowledge and abilities.
- Motivation to carry out their duties.
- The organizational setting in which they work.
There are three stages at which you should evaluate your training needs:
Organizational: Analysing the broad monitoring-related vulnerabilities of the organization.
- Where is the greatest need for training?
Occupational: Assessing the abilities needed to carry out M&E activities.
- What abilities are required for the position?
Individual: Comparing an individual’s skills to the needs of the jobs they have within the specified sections and occupations.
- Who requires instruction in what?
How to do a training needs analysis, plan and deliver training activities
- Identify the monitoring duties to be carried out and decide how responsibilities should be distributed.
2. Discuss any flaws or gaps in the material, financial, and human resources available for monitoring, and determine which organizational flaws could be remedied by training.
3. Create or analyse job descriptions for pertinent vocations that detail the monitoring activities that must be completed by each, as well as the knowledge and abilities necessary.
4. Use surveys or interviews to determine staff members’ monitoring knowledge and skills in connection to the demands outlined in their job descriptions and to pinpoint organizational issues that might prevent them from completing their jobs.
5. Discuss and decide on training priorities with managers and employees, as well as how to get over organizational limitations.
- The process of developing, delivering, and following up on the training can begin once the training needs have been determined and agreed upon.
6. Create the syllabus and training objectives.
- Define what, and to what standard, trainees must be able to perform after completing training.
- Identify the content needed to accomplish these goals.
- Select the training strategy that will help you attain your goals.
7. Put the training into practice and assess it.
- Hold the training session (s).
- Determine whether the training’s goals were met.
- Talk about whether the goals are the correct ones.
- Determine whether the cost of the training was justified.
8. Evaluate whether trained staff members are using what they have learnt in their daily work.
- Determine whether the intended result has been achieved (i.e. timely and good quality monitoring information).
- Establish additional training needs.
Planning for Data Collection and Analysis
There are two different sets of requirements for the data collection task:
- Baseline data to learn about recipients and the local setting before the major operation activities begin.
- Ongoing data for tracking implementation progress.
Following then, both sets of data are used for monitoring and evaluation. To update baseline data and comprehend the causes of changes that have occurred, special case studies and surveys can be conducted.
Why do you need baseline data?
The indicators and data sets used for monitoring and evaluation are largely the same, and evaluation becomes challenging if the pertinent baseline and monitoring data are not accessible. Evaluation requires more detailed information about how the operation has affected people’s lives, hence evaluation issues must be made explicit during system design. This is primarily accomplished through:
- Plans for gathering baseline data – What was the situation prior to the operation starting, and if comparison groups are included in a baseline study, how did the situation inside the operation’s purview compare to that outside?
- Plans for a follow-up study – What impact has the operation had on groups compared to those outside its purview, both since it began and over time?
The methods used to gather baseline information are the same as those employed in other exercises including reviews, assessments, and evaluations. The reason for the discrepancy is the exercise’s goal. By comparing indicators and analysing the context, baseline studies give the data required to finish the operation’s planning. They serve as the cornerstone of reliable monitoring and evaluation by giving a picture of the situation just before start-up. In particular, baseline data make it easier to measure the results and effects of an operation in the future through a follow-up study.
Several important considerations for organizing the gathering of baseline data
- Baseline data collection should be scheduled to occur before the start of an operation or the next phase.
- Baseline and follow-up studies should be considered essential elements of your M&E plan and should be adequately budgeted and resourced.
- Baseline research data should be analysed and presented in a way that is clear and concise, but most importantly, that is simple enough for programmers, project managers, reporting delegates, and evaluators to understand.
For further information on planning and undertaking a baseline study, see our Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL) course.