Have you been thinking about strengthening your monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes? It can be challenging to plan out who on your team will be involved in collecting, entering, quality-checking, analyzing, and reporting on your program data, not to mention using the data to make program decisions!
M&E plans are intended to guide monitoring and evaluation processes throughout the life of your project. One of the key components of a strong M&E plan is an M&E workplan, commonly represented in the form of a Gantt chart. The chart’s rows list the M&E tasks to be performed, and the columns make up the timeline on which each M&E task will take place, indicating whether it will be ongoing or occur during discrete times of the year.
Let’s take a closer look at the M&E tasks your workplan should include:
- Data collection activities
After developing your project’s theory of change and logframe, list out the data you will need to collect to capture all needed indicators. This may include demographic data, attendance data, assessment data such as pre and post-tests, and other data specific to your project. Next, identify when this data collection should take place throughout the life of the project or funding cycle—monthly? quarterly? annually?
- Data management and quality assurance activities
Write down how frequently data will be entered, and by whom. Make a note of any due dates for renewing your database subscriptions. Also ensure you have processes in place for data quality assurance. If your data is not high quality, it’s not worth collecting in the first place! Include these processes in your timeline. See these Sample Data Quality Assurance Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs) for more.
- Data analysis and learning review activities
Outline when you will hold regular data analysis and action planning meetings (refer to Switchboard’s Data Analysis and Action Planning Templates to learn more). If the project spans multiple years, also plan time to review data from the previous year to ensure ongoing learning and improvement. If you plan to implement an external evaluation, outline when data collection, analysis, and disseminating findings will occur.
- Activities related to reporting and information sharing
Include a timeline for the submission of semi-annual, quarterly, or monthly reports to funders. Additionally, plan when you will share information with key stakeholders or partners. If you’re collecting client feedback data, include your plans for circling back to tell clients how their input was used.
- Activities related to training staff on their M&E responsibilities
Schedule in-person staff trainings on data collection, data entry, and data analysis. Build in enough time at the project start to ensure staff feel confident implementing the tasks in the workplan to which they’ve been assigned—this can save time that would be spent later on resolving issues and cleaning data.
Below is an example fictional refugee employment program’s annual M&E workplan. You can also add also a column for “Person Responsible” between your “M&E Task” column and your timeline.
Take the time to think through your M&E workplan at the start of your project! This will enable your team to discuss monitoring and evaluation processes and timelines at your project kick-off or grant opening meeting, and will help ensure that all staff are aware of their M&E responsibilities. This will strengthen your M&E processes and can ultimately contribute to stronger programming and outcomes for clients.
To learn about the other key components of a strong M&E plan, check out Switchboard’s M&E Plan Template as well as the accompanying checklist. Questions? Email Switchboard@Rescue.org!