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

Monitoring and 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 [7].

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 [8].

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.

First, we would like to briefly generalize our understanding of the terms "monitoring", "evaluation", "management and efficiency" based on our learning and literature review.

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 DAC).


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

As the 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.

Organizations, 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 influencing policy.

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

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