During the program planning stage, remember to define what data you need to collect, and how you intend to collect it in order to monitor and evaluate program success.
Planning your M&E from the start will help you to:
- Establish the baseline before starting the program
- Integrate data collection tools into your program to monitor ongoing outputs
- Collect data that can help you evaluate whether your intended objectives are achieved.
This section provides practical tips on identifying what data to collect, designing data collection tools, and evaluating program impact.
- Do not leave M&E until you have completed your program! During the piloting stage, devote adequate time and resources to monitoring, evaluation and learning.
- Encourage critical reflection and be ready to make (sometimes major) shifts in your program approaches.
- Even if you have conducted many assessments during program planning, expect a steep learning curve as you will inevitably realize that some aspects of your program design are not feasible or effective in practice. Adaptive planning is the key to success!
- Evaluative questions should be asked throughout program execution, e.g. during monthly staff meetings. It is also advisable to conduct a more in-depth evaluation after program completion. Depending on program scale and budget, you might wish to hire an external evaluator to validate your program design and impact.