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.
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.
Someone in each unit shall be assigned responsibility for ensuring that the monitoring system is functioning well.
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.
The costs for the monitoring systems are reasonable according to the different groups of stakeholders that use the results produced by the systems.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Board of Directors for the organization usually monitors the Organization’s results and activities against a Mission Statement, Core Values, and policies.
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.