By Abiola Olaonipekun

Monitoring and evaluation literally means monitoring a project (project could be pr campaigns, advert campaigns, interventions etc) and evaluating its impact on the target audience which will help to determine its success, failure and areas of improvements.

Monitoring on its own can be defined as an ongoing function that intends to provide the management and major stakeholders of an ongoing project with early indications of progress, or otherwise, in the achievement of results. For instance, monitoring of a media campaign entails that the proposed strategies for that particular campaign are followed through and deployed as at when due. This means that press releases are distributed on time, press conferences are held as scheduled, interviews are conducted with the right amount of media personnel etc.

In essence, monitoring enables organizations to track their achievements by a regular collection of information which assists in providing timely and informed decision making, ensure accountability, and provide the basis for evaluation and learning.

Evaluation, however, is the objective review of an on-going or completed project, or policy, its implementation and end results. The aim is to determine if the objective for which the project was rolled out has been achieved. In other words, evaluation puts into consideration the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability of the project. An evaluation process provides information that is credible and useful, enabling the incorporation of lessons learned into the decision making process of future projects.

Monitoring and evaluation need to be inculcated into any project cycle in order to determine the direction of the project. If after initial reviews, the project fails to meet its benchmark, then there is a need to review the strategy and develop a new course of action.

It cannot be overemphasized that every organization that engages in projects of any sort should endeavour to include monitoring and evaluation as a quality control mechanism. It offers continuous improvement in projects and affect how subsequent projects are implemented.

Monitoring and evaluation processes are usually conducted by in-house research consultants or outsourced to a research firm. In order to have a biased-free analysis and evaluation, it is advisable that a team, separate from those implementing the project, should conduct the monitoring and evaluation task.