In our blogs, we often talk about monitoring & evaluation, or M&E in short. While M&E has many benefits to your projects, not every M&E process will run smoothly, and you might occasionally run into a couple of challenges when you implement them. In today’s article, we will discuss some of the challenges you might face when implementing your M&E assessment.
- Lack of Resources and Time
M&E programs will cost you money, and as an NGO, you rely on fundraising and donations for the majority of your funding. Unfortunately, because many people are unaware of the benefits of M&E, you may encounter resistance and accusations that it is a waste of money. Finding the time and resources to do it well is, unsurprisingly, one of the primary problems in effective monitoring and evaluation procedures. The majority of non-profit organizations report restricted staff time (79%) and insufficient financial resources (52%) as challenges to assessment efforts. With most businesses suffering financial constraints, it’s easy for Monitoring and Evaluation to fall to the bottom of the priority list as other tasks take precedence.
- Inaccurate Data
No matter how hard you try, not all of the data you collect will be correct. Much like any other element of life, there are typical problems in M&E that must be ironed out, particularly in the data-collection section, before an efficient solution is found. It’s possible that mistakes were made when entering the data, that fake data was entered, that calculations were made incorrectly, that data was lost, or that stakeholders or beneficiaries tried to glorify the results in order to please you. You may not receive effective outcomes if the data is erroneous, which can put your resources at risk.
- Ineffective Strategies
Many NGOs are unfamiliar with the monitoring and evaluation process, and therefore do not stick with it. This frequently results in poor techniques that fail to generate the correct data or provide incorrect data. Acting rashly on misleading data could have serious long-term consequences that could jeopardize your company.
- Using Modeled Frameworks
It is fairly common for successful NGOs to use the same structure or data strategy. Many of these frameworks, on the other hand, have been customized to match the demands of the company. You may not have the same organizational structure, which could result in inefficient data processing or incorrect data analysis. Also, some of the frameworks are developed for the western world, and they may not be compatible with your stakeholders’ or donors’ eastern sensibilities.
- Involving Stakeholders Effectively
Many people may be hesitant to involve stakeholders directly since unproven M&E projects are perceived as a risk. Once the stakeholders learn, it may cause conflict between them, affect your relationship with them, and maybe limit your funding for future initiatives.
- Informing Donors of Negative Results
We strive hard to locate donors who can assist us in funding the NGO and launching these programs. Donors, on the other hand, frequently have terms and expectations that must be followed, and many NGOs are reluctant of disclosing unfavorable statistics to them.
- Technical Expertise
Implementing efficient monitoring and evaluation processes and activities can be difficult due to a lack of technical skills inside an organization. Limited staff knowledge, skills, and/or tools are a barrier to the evaluation activities of 48% of non-profits, and having sufficient access to information and skills for 69% of organizations is a critical supporting factor in being able to carry out their evaluations. This lack of technical expertise is attributable in part to the fact that only 8% of organizations have employees who are solely responsible for evaluations. As a result, there will be a substantial shortage of evaluation professionals, and many of those within an organization charged with M&E tasks will be diverted elsewhere.
Another problem with M&E is ensuring that your organization has a culture that supports the process. Monitoring and evaluation is about having a team that is focused on learning and adopting a growth attitude, not just one activity or procedure. Monitoring and evaluation can feel like its goal is to criticize and discover shortcomings if the correct culture isn’t in place. When done correctly and with the appropriate attitude, however, M&E can be a key element of building a healthy climate inside an organization, embracing mistakes as part of the learning process and allowing individuals to learn and grow without fear of retaliation.
- Lack of Focus
The final hurdle in monitoring and evaluation is determining where to concentrate your efforts. You have a wealth of data and information to collect about your projects and their outcomes. As a result, determining where to focus your time and attention in order to get the best value for money from the process can be difficult. When there isn’t a clear idea of why you’re doing it or what you’re expecting to achieve, M&E can feel overwhelming or be pushed down the priority list. You can spend a lot of time collecting data without generating any useful insights unless these things are evident.
To summarize, there are numerous obstacles that organizations must overcome while attempting to improve their Monitoring and Evaluation processes and activities. There are many various aspects to constructing a successful M&E program, from obtaining sufficient resources to carry out the task to developing a culture that supports the process. Many organizations find M&E particularly difficult since they do not have full-time evaluation specialists on staff. As a result, obtaining technical skills can be a significant obstacle to developing an M& framework and successfully applying it. M&E is relevant and should always be implemented if you want the greatest potential results, regardless of your achievements or failures. These problems you confront when practicing M&E may seem insurmountable to some, but with a little creativity, you can overcome them. Understanding and correctly implementing the concepts requires a lot of practice.
While you will undoubtedly encounter difficulties along the way, you must overcome these obstacles and continue on your path. The more problems you conquer, the more effective your programs will be, and the more comfortable you and your business will become with M&E. Because you know there may be obstacles when conducting M&E, it’s usually wise to plan for them ahead of time. If you or others in your organization want to improve their skills, check out our Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL) training course.