Overview of project monitoring and evaluation research
Table of Contents:
The concept of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has become a vital tool for effective construction project delivery. Undoubtedly, M&E has been hypothesized differently across various fields such as health and agriculture. Due to the varying understanding and conceptualization and different levels of perceptions regarding construction M&E, this chapter provides a theoretical understanding of the concept of M&E in the construction context, i.e. the chapter established that the need for M&E cannot be overemphasized in the achievement of successful project delivery. This understanding is, thus, central to establishing strategies that may help project teams effectively and ultimately undertake M&E to improve the project performance and management.
Extant studies across various domains have underscored the imperative role of M&E in achieving project success (Chin, 2012; Ika, Diallo & Thuillier, 2012; Kamau & Mohamed, 2015; Otieno, 2000; Papke-Shields, Beise & Quan, 2010; Tache, 2011). However, from a theoretical perspective, the term M&E has been conceptualized and defined variedly. The lack of comparable definition of M&E remains a crucial challenge in the literature (Patton, 2003). In the light of the above, this chapter provides an understanding of the concept of M&E as well as the complementary role and difference between M&E, the approach, methods, tools and techniques of M&E and, finally, the benefits and challenges of the M&E practice are placed in perspective. To obtain a better understanding of the diverse and complementary nature of M&E in project delivery, this chapter describes M&E separately and presents the distinction between the two management functions as they influence project success.
Monitoring is a continuous management function that logically collects data on specific indicators of the project to offer management and stakeholders of an ongoing intervention the indications of the extent to which objectives are
Overview of project monitoring 13 being achieved and the progress in the use of allocated resources (Omonyo, 2015). Whereas Gudda (2011) described monitoring as an art of collecting project information to make an informed decision at the right time, lie, Eresia-Eke and Allen-He (2012) defined monitoring as an ongoing process of generating information about the progress being made towards the achievement of results. According to Bamberger and Hewitt (1986), monitoring is an internal project activity designed to provide constant feedback on progress or otherwise and the efficiency with which it is being implemented. Monitoring is undertaken while a project is being implemented with the aim of improving the project design and functioning while in action. Otieno (2000) emphasizes that monitoring assesses the understanding of stakeholders regarding the project and promotes the systematic and professional management, minimizes the risk of project failure and, finally, assesses progress in implementation. The World Bank, cited by Tache (2011), agreed in context with the several descriptions of monitoring and further defines monitoring as a continuous assessment of project implementation regarding agreed schedule and use of inputs, infrastructure and services by the beneficiaries. Chipato (2016) identified monitoring as the ongoing process by which stakeholders obtain regular feedback on the progress being made towards achieving their goals and objectives.
Chipato (2016) further stressed that monitoring implies a continuing operation conducted during project implementation to ensure that the project stays on track to achieve its objectives. Also, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) (2011) defined monitoring as the routine collection and analysis of information to track progress against set plans and check compliance to established standards. It helps identify trends and patterns, adapts strategies and informs decisions for project/programme management. The monitoring exercise may be used to improve project efficacy during implementation: the project should be flexible and able to change and adapt to conditions on the ground as indicated by the exercise (Chipato, 2016). Monitoring is conducted after a programme has begun and continued throughout the programme implementation period. Monitoring is sometimes referred to as process, performance or formative evaluation (Kusek &. Rist, 2004).
Types of monitoring
In monitoring studies, many forms of monitoring have been identified. Tache (2011) categorizes monitoring into three main types. They are baseline monitoring, impact monitoring and compliance monitoring. Baseline monitoring refers to the measure of economic, social and environmental needs at the pre-project stage to determine the existing situation, range of differences and the process of change, while impact monitoring is the quantification of social and environmental variables during project development and operations to determine the impact that may have been caused by the project (Tache, 2011). Compliance monitoring concerns are ensuring compliance with donor regulations, contract requirements, local building regulations and bye-laws as well as ethical standards in the delivery of the project (Tache, 2011).
Kusek and Rist (2004) categorize monitoring into activity-based monitoring, results-based monitoring and implementation monitoring. Activity monitoring, also known as process monitoring, focuses on how activities are implemented to meet time and cost. However, it falls short in aligning the activities to the outcomes which makes it difficult to understand how these activities have triggered the achievement of the improved performance (Kusek & Rist, 2004). Activity monitoring also tracks the utilization of inputs and resources, the progress of activities and the delivery of outputs. It observes how activities are delivered - the efficiency in time and resources (IFRC, 2011). Results-based monitoring, on the other hand, is explained by Kusek and Rist (2004) to relate to the monitoring of the overall goal of a project and how it affects society. This type of monitoring merges M&E to access whether projects are on target to achieve results (IFRC, 2011). Results-based monitoring is recognized as broad-based and brings activities, processes, inputs and outputs in line with outcomes. Results-based monitoring has been christened as the ideal form of monitoring. Kusek and Rist (2004) further describe implementation monitoring as one which concerns tracking the approaches towards achieving given outcomes in the delivery of projects. This ensures that the right inputs and activities are used to generate output and that there is compliance to achieve set outcomes. Monitoring, therefore, concentrates on resources, activities, objectives (results, purpose development goal) and any fundamental assumptions.
In 2011, the IFRC provided a summary of the different types of monitoring commonly found in a project/programme monitoring system as described in Table 2.1. It is important to remember that these monitoring types often co-occur as part of an overall monitoring system (IFRC, 2011).