Project Monitoring and Evaluation

Project Monitoring and Evaluation Meaning, Need, Tools, Planning

Table of Contents:-

  • What is Project Monitoring?
  • Meaning of Project Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Need for Project Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Tools for Project Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Planning for Project Monitoring and Evaluation

What is Project Monitoring?

Project monitoring and evaluation performs several functions, such as tracking, observing, and evaluating a project’s progress and performance according to the predefined objectives, timelines, and budgetary limitations set by the management.

Effective project monitoring helps in understanding the following functions:

1. It assists in determining whether the intended results are being achieved as planned.
2. It identifies what corrective action may be required to ensure the delivery of the planned results.
3. It evaluates whether businesses positively contribute to human development.

Effective project monitoring helps project managers understand, gather and analyse data related to project activities, milestones, resources, risks, and outcomes. While ensuring that the project stays on track and achieves its desired outcomes.

Project Monitoring always relates to pre-identified results in the development plan. They are driven by the need to account for achieving intended results and provide a factual basis to inform corrective decision making.

Monitoring and evaluation provide opportunities at regular predetermined points to validate the logic of a program, its activities, and its implementation and to make adjustments as needed. More than good planning and design is required to ensure results. It is important to regularly monitor progress towards achieving desired results. Similarly, effective monitoring alone cannot correct poor program designs, plans, and results. Data gathered from monitoring should be used to encourage improvements and support existing plans. Information from systematic monitoring plays an important role in informing evaluation processes. Evaluating a well-designed program that lacks systematic progress monitoring can be a challenging task.

Meaning of Project Monitoring and Evaluation

Project Monitoring involves collecting, recording, and reporting information concerning any aspects of project performance that the project manager or others in the organization wish to know.

Project monitoring is a process of evaluating the project activities regularly. It involves periodically analysing the project’s performance to ensure everything goes as planned. If any problem arises, corrective actions can be taken to solve the issues immediately. It helps to ensure that the project always remains on the right track as planned. Project managers can identify problems early with effective monitoring and make necessary changes whenever required. It provides managers and stakeholders with continuous feedback on how all activities are going so that they can make sure that every work to be done in a project is performed smoothly. Additionally, monitoring helps to identify success and problems that arise during project implementation, enabling timely adjustments to project operations.

The project manager monitors the overall project. So, the project manager should perform the following tasks:

1) Identify risks, and potential project problems, as early as possible.

2) Identify when goals may not be met.

3) Identify when constraints may be violated.

4) Ensure that contingency plans occur before unrecoverable problems occur. 

5) Provide and receive project status for the phases and total project.

When there is a significant chance that the project goals will not be met, this risk should be reported to upper management. Additionally, if the project controls are at risk of being violated, such as cost overruns and significant schedule delays, these risks should also be reported. 

The primary concern regarding project monitoring is to ensure that all parties involved in the implementation of the project have timely access to the information needed to exercise effective control over it.

Thus, project monitoring involves collecting, recording, and reporting information concerning any aspects of project performance that the project manager or others in the organization wish to know.

Need for Project Monitoring and Evaluation

There are three main needs of planning for monitoring. These are

1) Relevance: Whether the design of the project remains valid in terms of the problems it addresses and its main design elements (objectives, inputs, activities and outputs).

2) Performance: Whether the project is being implemented as planned.

3) Success: Whether the project has achieved its immediate and long-term development objectives and the desired sustainability.

Tools for Project Monitoring and Evaluation

There are two main tools used for monitoring a project:

  1. Earned Value Analysis
  2. Abandonment Analysis

Earned Value Analysis

Earned value is an integrated planning and control tool which integrates cost and time. The time for assessment is determined by the time to take corrective action. Although the earned value technique was set up initially to track the progress of cost and time, in practice it is often more appropriate to track progress measured as earned man hours and time.

In a nutshell, Earned Value is an approach where you monitor the project plan, actual work, and work completed value to see if a project is on track. Earned Value shows how much of the budget and time should have been spent, on the amount of work done so far.

Earned Value management is an integrated system of project management and project control that enables a contractor and their team to monitor the progress of a project in terms of integrated cost, schedule, and technical performance measures.

According to Englert and Associates, Inc. define it as, “A method for measuring project performance. It compares the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished to determine if cost and schedule performance is as planned.”

Project Magazine defines it as, “A methodology used to measure and communicate the real physical progress of a project taking into account the work complete, the time taken and the costs incurred to complete that work.”

Earned Value is also known as Management by Objectives, Performance Measurement, Budgeted Cost of Work Performed and Cost Schedule Control Systems.

Successful implementation of Earned Value principles can result in:

  1. Better Visibility into Program Performance
  2. Reduced Cycle Time to Deliver a Product
  3. Increased Accountability
  4. Reduced Risk

Earned Value Chart

Three variances can be identified on the earned value chart:

1) Time Variance: It is the difference in the time Scheduled for Work that has been performed (STWP) and the actual time used to perform it (ATWP).

2) Cost/Spending Variance: It is the difference between the amount of money budgeted for the work that has been performed (BCWP) to date and the actual cost of that work (ACWP).

3) Schedule Variance: It is the difference between the budgeted cost of the work performed (BCWP) to date and the cost of the work scheduled to be performed to date (BCWS).

 Abandonment Analysis

During a post-completion appraisal, it may be realized that the project is not likely to be as profitable as first thought and the possibility of abandoning it or terminating it earlier should be considered. Past cashflows are, of course, irrelevant to the decision-only future cashflows need to be considered. Abandoning the project is only necessary when the net discounted expected future cashflow of the project becomes negative

The complete abandonment of a project generally means that no participant can proceed with it or that a competitive bid for the right to develop the project has been lost. On occasion, the decision to abandon a project is based on other factors, such as political actions, changes in tax treaties, and economic considerations in the home country of the participants.

In some cases, a project may need to be shut down before its completion. Such a situation may arise under the following circumstances:

1) When the project has lost its strategic importance both in terms of long-term and short-term business strategies,

2) When the resources required for implementing the project have become scarce and their availability has become restricted.

3) When the progress of project implementation always lags behind the schedule continuously and also substantially, and when steps taken to improve the phase of project implementation do not yield favourable results.

4) When completing the project has become infeasible due to the changed circumstances.

The decision to abandon the project should be taken after an objective analysis without giving room for any personal bias and without any consideration for the cost already incurred in the project.

Thus, abandonment analysis should be done carefully by considering all parameters. More involvement in the project may overcome all problems leading to the success of the project, but it should not be at the cost of negative NPV and loss of opportunity cost.

Planning for Project Monitoring and Evaluation

 To make effective and timely decisions, it is essential to gather information through regular and planned monitoring and evaluation activities. Planning for monitoring and evaluation must start at the time of programme or project design, and they must be planned together. While monitoring provides real-time information on ongoing programmes or project implementation required by management, evaluation provides more in-depth assessments. The monitoring process can generate questions that need to be answered by evaluation. Also, evaluation draws heavily on data generated through monitoring, including baseline data, information on the programme of the project implementation process, and measurements of progress towards the planned results through indicators.

Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

A well-defined framework, established by key stakeholders at the end of the planning stage, is essential to carry out monitoring and evaluation systematically. This framework acts  as a roadmap for monitoring and evaluation and should clarify the following:

  1. What is to be monitored and evaluated?
  2. The activities need to be regularly monitored and evaluated.
  3. Who is responsible for monitoring and evaluating activities?
  4. When are monitoring and evaluation activities planned (timing)?
  5. How monitoring and evaluation methods are carried out.
  6. What resources are required and where are they allocated?

Additionally, risks and appropriate assumptions in carrying out planned monitoring and evaluation activities should be carefully anticipated, considered, and included in the project.

Planning for Monitoring and Evaluation in Different Phases

Planning for monitoring and evaluation is the process of analysing the use of project resources before action (ex-ante) during (in vivo) and after completion (post-mortem). Such an analysis is done to make the necessary and relevant recommendations and suggestions aimed at improving project implementation and hence better use of project resources.

Planning for monitoring and evaluation is done in different phases. These are:

  1. Before action (ex-ante),
  2. During implementation (in vivo),
  3. After completion (ex-post), and
  4. Post-Programme or Post-Project Monitoring

The above points are explained in detail as follows:

1) Pre-Implementation Assessment (ex-ante)

The pre-implementation assessment evaluation strategy addresses three standards that should be clearly articulated before Project managers move to the implementation phase. The standards are encompassed in the following questions:

i) Are the objectives well defined so that outcomes can be stated in measurable terms?

ii) Is there a coherent and credible implementation plan that provides clear evidence of how implementation is to proceed and how successful implementation can be distinguished from poor implementation?

iii) Is the rationale for deploying resources clear and commensurate with the needs to achieve the expected results?

Such an evaluation approach intends to ensure that failure is not programmed in from the beginning of implementation.

2) During Implementation Evaluation (in vivo)

The focus of process implementation evaluation is on implementation details which are given below:

i) What did or did not get implemented that was planned?

ii) What congruence was there between what was intended to be implemented and what happened?

iii) How appropriate and close to plan were the costs; the time requirements; the staff capacity and capability, and the availability of resources.

3) After Completion (ex-post)/Summative Evaluation

The purpose of this evaluation is to assess a mature project’s success in reaching its stated goals. Summative evaluation, also known as impact or outcome evaluation, constantly examines similar questions as progress evaluation. However, it occurs after the project has been implemented and the expected timeframe for change has occurred.

Summative evaluation collects information about outcomes and related processes, strategies, and activities that have contributed to achieving those outcomes. The evaluation is an appraisal of worth or merit. Usually, this type of evaluation is needed in decision-making. The decision alternatives may include continued funding, increased funding, continuing on probationary status, modifying and trying again; and discontinuing.

When conducting a summative evaluation, it is important to consider unanticipated outcomes. These are findings that emerge during data collection, or analysis that were never anticipated when three studies required financial resources, facilities, staff; and political support.

What unanticipated (and thus unintended) outputs or outcomes emerged from the implementation phase?

The implementation phase can be short or long. The major focus will be on analyzing the implementation process.  Managers can use this information to determine whether they will need to make any mid-course corrections to drive towards their stated outcomes. This evaluation strategy is similar to monitoring

4) Post-Programme or Post-Project Monitoring

Once a program or project has been completed, the government must maintain oversight of the sustainability of the outcomes, particularly in cases of national execution. This responsibility should be assumed regardless of whether an ex-post evaluation is planned.

The major objectives of post-project or post-programme monitoring are to:

i) Evaluate the accuracy and validity of the conclusions and recommendations presented in terminal reports.

ii) Determine the extent to which the recommendations outlined in the reports have been put into practice; and

iii) Evaluate the probability that the program or project will produce and sustain a positive impact, and identify any necessary actions to ensure the sustainability of the results.

Post-programme or post-project monitoring can provide valuable insights for decision-making and continuous improvement.


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