M&E for efficient management
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020
Author: Zabihullah Monib, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan, Herat Afghanistan
Evaluation / M&E as a vital tool for efficient implementation of projects
and programs at non-government organizations provides evidence-based data. It
allows organizations to learn from their experiences and improve their
effectiveness, efficiency and impact.
For almost all
non-government organizations, M&E is a means to receive funds, as donors
usually require their grants applicants to showcase the results of interventions
through vigorous monitoring and evaluation processes. Given, that M&E is a
long and sophisticated process, organizations often face a series of challenges
in conducting M&E to ensure efficient management. M&E provides a basis
to test assumptions; hence, implementing agencies have the opportunity to
discover their mistakes (Bamberger, M et al., 2012)
The question is what
non-government organizations should do to ensure management efficiency through
M&E. Our research discusses this question in detail and particularly
targets an international organization as a case study to point out specific problems,
challenges and recommend solutions and the way forward for that.
Monitoring progress and
evaluating impacts have long been considered important to ensure that money is
well spent and that objectives are met. This would also deal whether the
management has been efficient. Besides this conventional focus on being
accountable to funding agencies, organisations are increasingly using
monitoring and evaluation for internal learning and to improve their management
efficiency. They see that, for maximum benefits and higher management
efficiency, learning needs to happen collectively with diverse groups and
people through monitoring and evaluation processes .
Since 2001, there has
been an increasing growth in number of non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan and since then it has been met by government and non-government organizations
themselves with a growing concern about identifying their achievements and
effectiveness of their projects. According to the ministry of economy as of
2020, there are approximately, 2600 International and National Non-government
organizations operating in Afghanistan .
The struggle by
majority of NGOs account for their work and demonstrate real results continues
to defect their image as development change agents to various stakeholders. One
way organizations can improve effectiveness of their interventions is by
strengthening their monitoring and evaluation systems but what exactly these
organizations should take into account.
M&E being relatively
a new concept in Afghanistan, many organizations in underdeveloped or
developing countries in particular in Afghanistan struggle with that. Either
these organizations don't have M&E policy and a strategy for that at all or
they have an ineffective one not meeting their requirements.
As an effort to address
M&E challenges, the Ministry of Economy of Afghanistan prepared a strategy
on M&E in 2018 which is called "Standard M&E Strategy" but has neither
been implemented by the ministry itself nor by the non-government organizations.
Our research will further focus on these documents and in particular will study
M&E in an international organization operating in Afghanistan as the main case study.
Since there is a direct
connection between why organizations should conduct M&E and being
management-wise efficient, many of them fail to provide enough accountability
towards their donors either to acquire funding or keep their projects and
programs being continuously funded. Hence, we would mainly focus on what
organizations should do in conducting M&E to ensure management efficiency.
would like to briefly generalize our understanding of the terms "monitoring",
"evaluation", "management and efficiency" based on our learning and literature
Monitoring is a
continuing function that uses systematic collection of data on specified
indicators to provide management and the main stakeholders of an ongoing
development intervention with indications of the extent of progress and
achievement of objectives and progress in the use of allocated funds (OECD
Evaluation is the
systematic and objective assessment of an on-going or completed project,
programme or policy, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to
determine the relevance and fulfillment of objectives, development efficiency,
evaluation effectiveness, impact and sustainability (OECD DAC).
Management is the
administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a non-profit
organization, or government body. Management includes the activities of setting
the strategy of an organization and coordinating the efforts of its employees
to accomplish its objectives through the application of available resources,
such as financial, natural, technological, and human resources and etc.
Efficiency is the
ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money, and time in doing
something or in producing a desired result. In a more general sense, it is the
ability to do things well, successfully, and without waste
provided definitions indicate, there is an irreplaceable and inevitable connection
between monitoring, evaluation and management efficiency. In principle,
management is used as a tool to run a systematic set of activities that we call
it a project, a set of projects following specific goals that we call it
program and in general an organization. The ultimate goal of a project, program
and at large an organization is to ensure efficiency.
directors, managers and their teams utilize different management skills to
carry out their designated tasks in the best way possible by ensuring
efficiency. Yet, they would need additional mechanisms to understand and prove
the level of efficiency at their organizations internally and for the purpose
of presenting it to the donors. Monitoring and Evaluation is the mechanism they
usually make use of. What else should organizations carry out to ensure
management efficiency is still the main question (Fig. 2):
Figure 2. Steps in a Monitoring Process
The M&E should
provide consolidated source of information showcasing project progress. It
should allow actors to learn from each other's experiences, building on expertise
and knowledge. M&E should result to generation of written reports that
contribute to efficiency, transparency and accountability, and should allow for
lessons to be shared more easily. It should reveal mistakes and offers paths
for learning and improvements and provides a basis for questioning and testing
assumptions. It should provide a means for agencies seeking to learn from their
experiences and to incorporate them into policy and practice and should provide
a way to assess the crucial link between implementers and beneficiaries on the
ground and decision-makers. It should add to the retention and development of
institutional memory and provide a more robust basis for raising funds and
In addition to regular
M&E sessions conducted by non-government organizations, we highly recommend
it that the following should also be taken into account.
- Strategy & Policy:
In order to adopt proper M&E methodologies and improve management
efficiency through M&E, all organizations should include M&E as a major
component in their organizational strategy and develop a specific organization
policy for that.
- M&E at Project
Level: Every project should have a specific M&E plan which should be
prepared in the light of the organization's M&E strategy and policy.
- Capacity Building Training: M&E is a dynamic process. Hence, a specific capacity building training
plan should be prepared in every organization on M&E so that all relevant
staff are trained professionally in that.
- Data Analysis: The
organizations should not suffice to Microsoft Excel as the tool to analyse the
collected data. New software applications such SPSS, STATA, etc. should be used
to improve the accuracy of analysis; quantitative and qualitative-wise.
- Monitoring and evaluation
is changing: M&E is not only about formal data collection and indicators
anymore as it has vast dimensions and organizations must keep themselves, their
strategies and policies updated continuously.
- M&E is a complex
process: Indeed, it is a complex process. Therefore, collecting participants
ideas are not the sole things we can do. More efforts need to be done to
determine exactly how to feed the information gleaned back in a structured and
organized way that helps with decision-making.
- Stories and tags are
not enough: you all know that collecting and tagging stories to pull out
qualitative feedback is possible. However, the important next step is looking
at the effective use of these stories and data. It is important to move from
collecting the stories to thinking about what questions should be asked, how
the information can help NGOs improve their performance, how this qualitative
data translates into change or different practice at the local and global
levels, how the information could be used by local organizers for community
mobilization or action, and how all this is informing program design,
frameworks and indicators.
- Outreach is important:
Building an online platform does not guarantee that everyone will visit it or
participate in our monitoring or evaluation session. Local partners i.e.
associations, local community Shuras/Councils, Women and Young Collectives and
etc. are important elements to reach out and collect data about what people
think and feel. Outreach needs to be done with many partners from all parts of
a community or society in order to source different viewpoints.
- Be aware of biases:
Understanding where the process may be biased is very important and critical.
Everything from asking leading & main questions, defining the major data in
a certain way, creating processes that only include certain parts of a community
or population, selecting certain partners, or asking questions that lead to
learning what an organization thinks it needs to know can all of them create
biased answers. It will not give a proper impression to the participants.
Hence, language is important here for several reasons i.e. it will affect who
is included or excluded and who is talking with whom.
- Raising expectations:
Asking people for feedback raises expectations that their input will be heard
and that they will see some type of concrete result. We have to take into
account that not all decisions made as a consequence of our monitoring and
evaluation will reflect what people said or contributed. So, we have to be very
careful not to raise expectation of the participants.
- Safety and protection
are vital: safety is very context specific and participatory risk assessments
together with community members and partners can help mitigate and ensure that
people are informed about potential risks. Avoiding an authoritarian stance is
recommended, as sometimes human rights advocates know very well what their risk
is and are willing to take it. We should make sure that those with whom we are
working fully understand the risks and implications, especially when new media
tools are involved that they may not have used before. For example, if we use a
camera or recorder to record the session, we have to inform the participants
and provide reasons, if not accepted by them, we should abstain from using it.
As a conclusion, we
would like to indicate that there is an inevitable link between monitoring and
evaluation and management efficiency. Hence, M&E system has to be
established, strengthened and kept improving in every organization. In
particular, the relevant staff of each organization should receive continuous
trainings on M&E plans and the organization should harmonize their
activities and job descriptions to match their M&E plans.
The organizations should
use more advanced software applications to anlyze data i.e. SPSS and STATA to
ensure accuracy, timeliness and security project data and information.
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020