There is a significant amount of work to be done when preparing for an assessment. In our previous blog, we looked at the 10 steps to designing an effective Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System. The following 7 steps are crucial to the success of an M&E Assessment.
Step 1: Agree on the purpose and use of the M&E assessment.
The unit responsible for overseeing the implementation of the M&E system through the lead organization must engage stakeholders to agree on three primary issues;
- The purpose of the assessment.
- The responsibilities and roles of each organization.
- The expected results and follow-up after the assessment.
Specifically, there should be an agreement regarding how the outputs of the assessment relate to the scope’s broader strategic planning and review operations (and requirements of major donor agencies). The agreement should involve both M&E staff at different levels of the system as well as program managers and key decision-makers. This requires additional consultation and advocacy, but it is vital in ensuring that the results of the M&E assessment are taken seriously, anticipated, and used to strengthen the M&E system.
Step 2: Plan the assessment and mobilize enough resources.
The resources necessary for the M&E assessment workshop and its preparation need to be determined through detailed budgeting for workshop facilities and equipment, hotel accommodation and subsistence, participant travel, consultancy fees, and fees for the workshop facilitators. Resources for the assessment should be ideally already budgeted for in the M&E work plan.
Step 3: Identify facilitator(s) for the M&E assessment workshop.
The facilitator(s) for the M&E assessment workshop should have technical skills in Monitoring & Evaluation as well as in verbal communication, facilitation, and report writing. If possible, they should also be able to speak the language of the majority of the participants. The selection and work of the facilitators should be guided by clear terms of reference.
Step 4: Develop an agenda for an M&E assessment workshop.
Based on field experience, the agenda provides a reasonable timeline for assessing all components of the system with a wide range of stakeholders. The timeframe for the workshop may need to be contracted or expanded, depending on the M&E system’s maturity and the number of participants involved.
Step 5: Invite stakeholders to the M&E assessment workshop and prepare all logistics.
The unit responsible for overseeing the implementation of the M&E system should lead in organizing the logistics of the M&E assessment workshop. It is significant to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders is invited and participate in the workshop. The invitations, the agenda of the workshop, and any background materials should be sent to the participants prior to the workshop.
Step 6: Collect and review key documents.
All important technical documents should be collected and reviewed. This pre-assessment desk review aims to ascertain that important information is organized and available for verification and consultation during the M&E assessment workshop.
Step 7: Ensure a common understanding of M&E terminology.
The final pre-assessment exercise ensures that the standardized terminology used in the M&E System is understood as relating to any locally approved M&E terminology. The assessment tool encompasses clarifications for the various assessment items, which should enable a common understanding between the participants. Where needed, the facilitator should provide additional clarifications during the workshop.
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