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Monitoring and evaluation for management


When donors think of M&E they tend to think of demonstrating influence; but when think tanks think of M&E their first concern is how this may help them improve their own internal management.

Monitoring and evaluation for management ought to be the first concern of donors, but it isn’t. Without proper management systems whatever influence their grantees may achieve should be taken with caution. Rewarding them just for being influential may lead to rewarding organisations that make use of unethical practices to achieve such influence, who have been nothing but lucky in their efforts, or who, while influential, may also be highly inefficient, wasting everybody’s resources in unnecessary activities.

Monitoring and evaluation for management is also an effective way of introducing monitoring and evaluation practices into an organisation. Unlike M&E on influence, it is possible for managers and researchers to experience, in the short term, the benefits of investing in monitoring and evaluation for management. Simple time-sheets, for example, will give managers real-time information of the profitability of their projects -now! not tomorrow or in a few years when the ‘impact’ takes place.

Tomás Garzón de la Roza has prepared a very useful document as part of a literature review series developed to support Grupo FARO and ASIES. The document is in Spanish but let me offer some interesting insights from it.

The document’s introduction considers the usual discussion between M&E’s accountability and management/learning purposes. Then it focuses on the later.

Tomás identifies, at the core of this effort, the following areas of concern:

  1. Internal affairs: The efficiency of the organisation with research, communications and management;
  2. Innovation and learning: For instance, improvements in the competences of the staff and in the overall think tank’s portfolio; and
  3. Finances: Both in terms of business development or fundraising as well as the proper management of the think tank’s resources.

To address these challenges, he outlines a series of qualitative tools, including:

  • Fit for purpose analysis: It consists in assessing whether the organisation’s structure, systems, and process are appropriate for its objectives. It is often carried out by an ‘evaluation board’ with a certain degree of independence.
  • Light-tough quality control: It consists of random ‘visits’ to projects and outputs with the purpose of determining their quality (and fit for purpose).
  • Horizontal evaluation: Particularly useful during change processes this tool provides opportunities for peer learning and support.
  • Appreciative inquiry: A self-evaluation method that focuses on drawing lessons from successes and failures; rather than focusing on failure itself.

Of particular importance to the issue of monitoring and evaluation for management is that Tomás considers that knowledge management is a key part of this. In a way, it is. KM emerged out of management consultancies efforts to ‘sell’ something new to their clients. In its history from IT into communications and now learning, through M&E, it has not been able to rid itself from it most basic purpose: it provides agents with the information they need to make decisions. These agents, in an organisation can be managers, researchers, communicators, and even board members or partners; but they are all, within their own purview, managing (resources, times, people, expectations, etc.).

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. aboubakary modibbo amadou #

    Hi Enrique and Happy New Year!

    I’d like first of all to thank you for all what you’re doing for us. Your Blog unlocked a lot of inspiration for me since I suscribed to it. I am a Senior Auditor working for Cameroon’s Supreme State Audit Office. But what brought me in your blog is the keen interest I developed for Public Policy in the last 5 years which ultimateley paved me the way to apply for Humphrey Fellowhip Program , US State Department program designed to bring mid-career profressionals from developing countries in US Universities. for one year of academic and professional study I was at Evans School of Public Affairs (University of Washington in Seattle) studying Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration. It is through my research that I found the link between Think Tank and Public Policy and definitely I came across with your Blog which brought about a paradigm shift in my life. Because as a LEAD International Fellow, I was the President and CEO of LEAD Cameroon, a branch of LEAD International(Leadership for Environment and Development- a UK based Think Tank devoted to Leadership in Environment and Sustainable Development). Back in my country and having acquired  a solid intellectual grounding in Public Policy, I’d like in the years coming see LEADCameroon morphing to  a powerful Think Tank  and playing key role in policy analysis and advocacy not only in Cameroon but in the whole of Central Africa.You will realize that countries in this area of Africa are lagging behind in terms of research, analysis and studies. Therefore, your blog has been and would be a powerful source of information. To end up, I’d like to inform you that I did the last survey concerning the Think tanks and I was very delighted to read that “the survey was being conducted by Results for Development Institute in partnership with Mary Kay Gugerty and Steve Kosak of the University of Washington.” Mary Kay was my Lecturer on “Development Management”, a very interesting course and I had very much appreciated what I learned during her class. Wishing you all the best for 2014.

    Modibbo A Aboubakary Senior Auditor LEAD International Fellow Humphrey Fellow President and CEO of LEAD Cameroon


    January 13, 2014
    • Thanks Modibbo, I appreciate your kind words and thank you for reading the blog. Hope to hear more from you and discuss ON Think Tank issues online.


      January 14, 2014

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