Category Archives: Monitoring

Organization Guidelines for Developing Monitoring Systems

An organization framework for something is a set of guidelines for making reasoned decisions about that something. A framework for monitoring is a set of guidelines for areas where evidence of progress, risk level, and opportunities is collected and analyzed periodically. The results are used by management to make adjustments as needed to maintain fulfillment of mission and operations consistent with core values; some results are used to meet reporting requirements with partners.

A first  step in preparing a framework for monitoring is to list all commitments to partners for providing information on a periodic basis. Add to the list the periodic information that managers require related to maintaining effectiveness, efficiency, and timely reporting as required.

The second step is to decide on the qualities that the organization values in collecting and disseminating this type of information. Prepare guidelines for maintaining these qualities.

Then monitoring systems are developed per guidelines. Here is an example of a framework with five guidelines.

Guideline

Each unit/department in the organization shall have a monitoring system. The monitoring system is a collection of components. Each component consists of these elements: target, indicator, adjustment procedure, and reporting requirements.

  • Work standard, project objective, criterion for satisfactory performance, tolerable level of threat, etc. This element can be called the target for the component.
  • Description of the information needed about the target to determine if it is functioning as desired. The description shall also include instructions for collecting and analyzing that information, and the frequency. This element can be called an indicator. Note that several indicators may be used for a target.
  • Description of a procedure for initiating adjustment of factors that affect the status of the target if the indicator results are not satisfactory. This element can be called an adjustment procedure.
  • Statement of those internal persons or external partners who must receive a report for the component, and the frequency of reporting. This element can be called the reporting requirements.

Guideline

Someone in each unit shall be assigned responsibility for ensuring that the monitoring system is functioning well.

Guideline

The results of the monitoring are presented so that the receiver of the results can see immediately where there are potential problems that need to be resolved.

Guideline

The costs for the monitoring systems are reasonable according to the different groups of stakeholders that use the results produced by the systems.

Guideline

The results are needed to assist managers and staff to do good work, or to maintain good relationships with groups of stakeholders.

Typical Monitoring Systems

Project Implementation

Management receives indicator results as specified in the detailed project design. Typically there are indicators that show results of activities, outputs and outcomes; status of threats to project completion; and implementation compliance with core values.

Project Grant

The organization that provides the grant will state the reporting requirements. A monitoring system should provide the required information on a regular basis to the grant manager so that the manager can initiate adjustments as needed and can report to the granting organization accurately on time.

Financial Operations

The Finance Officer monitors expenditures by each organizational unit, and sends each unit a regular report of actual expenses against budgeted expenses. The Unit Head will resolve deviations from budget.

The Finance Officer monitors revenue against planned revenue. When revenue deviates from the projections, then senior management makes adjustments in operations.

The Unit responsible for writing grants monitors opportunities for getting an appropriate grant, and monitors progress in writing and submitting the grant.

Mission Compliance

The Board of Directors for the organization usually monitors the Organization’s results and activities against a Mission Statement, Core Values, and policies.

Notes

This is not a comprehensive list of monitoring systems. The organization will need to develop its list based on the units in the organization.

See other monitoring posts on this site for details on creating community development program monitoring systems.

Indicator Elaboration Worksheet

An indicator elaboration worksheet has three main functions.

  1. Filling out the sheet helps planners to define properly the indicator and relate it to relevant development hypotheses or the theory of change underpinning the project.
  2. The precise description reveals the specific information that is required and the means for collecting and processing it. This allows the feasibility of using the indicator to be determined in terms of time, money and expertise required.
  3. Other people can understand the indicator and use it in other settings and at other times in ways that allow the readings to be comparable.

The attached file is such a worksheet. Comments and suggestions welcome.

LINK → Indicator Elaboration

Monitoring Evangelistic Intent

The primary aim of evangelistic intent in community development is to facilitate development thinking and activities that provoke the question to which the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. The attached file describes categories of standards and indicators for evangelistic intent.  I welcome questions, suggestions and challenges.

Clink link Monitoring Evangelistic Intent

For background information on my approach to project monitoring,

Click link

Overview of Posts on Project Monitoring

There are two basic forms of external accountability for a community development agency: stewardship accountability and results accountability.

  • The agency must be accountable for how it has allocated resources; auditing is the process that demonstrates the degree to which the agency has achieved stewardship accountability.
  • The agency must also be accountable for keeping its promises as represented in project goals and objectives; evaluation is usually thought to be the appropriate process for demonstrating results accountability. But I believe that trustworthy monitoring is the more appropriate process. Evaluation is better suited for learning about what works and does not work by evaluating theory of change undergirding development projects.

When a development agency has major constraints on resources for accountability I recommend that they invest them primarily in risk-based auditing and trustworthy monitoring, and secondarily in evaluation. Regarding evaluation I recommend that the agency partner with other agencies to pool resources so that experienced evaluators can do sound evaluations related to community development theory. Evaluations that merely document achievement of project goals and objectives are inferior to trustworthy monitoring. (To explore this proposition see Michael Scriven’s description of the goal-achievement model for evaluation, goal-based evaluation, and goal-free evaluation in Evaluation Thesaurus, fourth edition, Sage Publications, 1991.)

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Principles for reviewing a project monitoring system

This post is one of four primary posts that discuss program or project monitoring for community development projects. Links to the other three posts are given below. If you search “monitoring” on this site you will find a number of other posts on different aspects of monitoring. I welcome your comments that will help me understand this important topic at a deeper level.

 

This post continues the discussion of standards and indicators. My objective is to provide specific guidelines for avoiding confusion when using these critical concepts in planning and implementing effective monitoring activities. I recommend you read the post “Understanding work standards, project objectives, and results indicators” before you read this one. Clink LINK.

 

Click Principles for Monitoring to read the PDF document on principles.

The other two companion posts are:

Introduction to project monitoring. Clink LINK.

Creating a project monitoring system. Click LINK.

Understanding work standards, project objectives, and results indicators

This post is one of four primary posts that discuss program or project monitoring for community development projects. Links to the other three posts are given below. If you search “monitoring” on this site you will find a number of other posts on different aspects of monitoring. I welcome your comments that will help me understand this important topic at a deeper level.

 

This post is one of two posts in which I examine how the terms standards, objectives and indicators, when used simplistically, create confusion and misunderstanding among practitioners and lead to ineffective monitoring. The other post is “Principles for reviewing…”

 

In this post I suggest definitions for each of the key terms. I also make a case for including defined adjustment procedures in a monitoring system so that management can respond quickly to discrepancies in performance or conditions. Click Standards Objectives Indicators to read the PDF document.

 

The primary companion posts are:

Introduction to project monitoring. LINK

Creating a project monitoring system. LINK

Principles for reviewing a project monitoring system. LINK

Creating a project monitoring system

This post is one of four primary posts that discuss program or project monitoring for community development projects. Links to the other three posts are given below. If you search “monitoring” on this site you will find a number of other posts on different aspects of monitoring. I welcome your comments that will help me understand this important topic at a deeper level.

 

A description of my approach to project monitoring is given in the post, “Introduction to Project Monitoring.” Click LINK. You may want to read that post before this one. A summary of the key points in the “Introduction…” post is given in this post on creating a project monitoring system.

 

In this post I describe the features of a monitoring system, monitoring procedure and a monitoring plan. My objective is to provide a coherent view of the different aspects of monitoring. Click Creating Monitoring System to read the PDF document.

 

The other two companion posts are:

Understanding work standards, project objectives, and results indicators. LINK

Principles for reviewing a project monitoring system. LINK

Introduction to project monitoring

This post is one of four primary posts that discuss program or project monitoring for community development projects. Links to the other three posts are given below. If you search “monitoring” on this site you will find a number of other posts on different aspects of monitoring. I welcome your comments that will help me understand this important topic at a deeper level.

 

In this post I briefly describe features of community development that have influenced my thinking about monitoring. Then I describe four areas that I recommend for emphasis in transformative monitoring. Click Introduction Project Monitoring to read the PDF document.

 

The primary companion posts are:

Understanding work standards, project objectives, and results indicators. LINK

Creating a project monitoring system. LINK

Principles for reviewing a project monitoring system. LINK