Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring is the process of tracking or recording actual project activity, for example, the number of beneficiaries, beneficiaryi attendance, costs incurred, expenditurei. Monitoring collects raw data that allows you to keep track of where you are with a project in relation to where you planned to be. Good monitoring systems will also ensure that you have the correct records in place to be able to prove that project activity and expenditure is eligible and actual.
It is an EUi requirement that ERDFi projects are monitored, monitoring also forms part of the contract between you and Government Office North West. In the application you detail how you intend to monitor your project. There are many benefits to be gained from monitoring, it can assist communications within organisations, allow for early identification of any potential problems and also assist communication between partners.
A monitoring database is currently being compiled by the Government Office for the North West. Applications in the 2000-2006 Programme will be required to give detailed information concerning beneficiaries, business start-ups and SMEs assisted.
Projects are monitored to ensure that the outputsi predicted in the original application are being achieved. Project managers are asked for output information on a quarterly basis as part of the progress report. Each project manager must hold auditable records and information about the project and provide evidence to prove any outputs claimed.
If the original output targets are not met then it may be possible to revise the contract within the lifetime of the project. It is important to note, however, that the output targets form part of the terms and conditions of the offer of grant and failure to meet these conditions may result in the grant being withdrawn.
Evaluation uses the data that is collected through monitoring and allows for a comparison to be made between proposed and actual activity and an analysis of reasons for any change that may have occurred to the project. Evaluation is a structured process by which a project’s activities and achievements are understood and assessed. Evaluation will identify areas for improvement and allow you to provide a better service in future activity.
To evaluate a project you must have measurable factors as the best way of assessing the success or failure of aspects of your project. These may either be qualitative or quantitative.
Quantitative indicators can be readily available in numerical form. They allow for easy comparison but may be insufficient as the basis for a comprehensive assessment of the project.
Qualitative indicators are often concerned with ‘soft outcomesi’. They may be highly relevant to your project’s objectives but may be difficult to measurei. Qualitative indicators are more likely to reveal unexpected problems and extra benefits. They can be monitored through using techniques such as diaries, interviews, feedback sessions and observation. Their value can be increased if they can be designed to yield quantitative results.
Evaluation should answer the following questions
- Why was the activity carried out?
- Did the project achieve its objectives and if not then why not?
- What was learned from the process of delivering the project (as distinct from its outcomes)?
- What lessons can you learn from delivering your particular project activity and indeed any future project activity?
Who is Evaluation for?
Evaluation is intended as a tool for project practitioners who will want to identify new opportunities, operational or administrative problems and to record and validate achievements.
Evaluation can be used for different audiences
Funders will generally focus on value for moneyi and whether the project has achieved its objectives, evaluation will also satisfy their desire for accountabilityi.
Local Partners will be interested in the projects benefit to the local community and its contribution to their own objectives.
Peer Organisations who may be looking to replicate the project elsewhere or using it as an example of good practice.
Grant can be withheld or withdrawn from projects that substantially under-achieve, therefore it is important that you have in place adequate arrangements to record and collect data. You need to be able to verify both the physical outputs and the economic impactsi set down in your original application.
Any project which covers activity across both the fully eligible and transitional Objective 2i area must identify the outputs attributable to each separately.
The DTIi have produced further guidance on project monitoring, this can be downloaded from the following website