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Monitoring and evaluation indicators

Often M&.E are characterized by comparing performance with set standards (Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007). This perhaps underscores why standards such as quality, time, cost and satisfaction levels of projects are set as targets before projects commence. He et al. (2012) describe indicators as a measurement tool that aids project managers to ascertain the extent to which results are being achieved.

Prennushi, Rubio and Subbarao (2001) also define indicators as variables used to measure progress towards the goals. An indicator is a sign which specifies the progress of project intervention, whether project objectives are being met (Rugg, 2010). Hammond, Adriaanse, Rodenburg, Bryant and Woodward (1995) posit that indicators communicate information about progress towards achieving impact and provide clues about matters of greater implication or a phenomenon that is not immediately apparent. The impact is the positive or negative, planned or unplanned effect occasioned by a development project. Measuring the impact of a project, therefore, is critical in producing valuable information for the decision-making process and supports accountability for the delivery of results (Njama, 2015). Kusek and Rist (2004) emphasize that performance targeting of indicators and assessment of progress towards its achievement provide early warnings to allow corrective measures to be taken, indicating whether an in-depth evaluation or review is required.

Indicators provide both qualitative and quantitative data which offers a simple and consistent approach to monitor, measure and determine performance and achieve accountability (Kusek & Rist, 2004; He et al., 2012). Also, performance indicators present an effective means to measure progress towards objectives and facilitate benchmarking comparisons between different organizational units (Mosse &. Sontheimer, 1996). Indicators are developed for all levels of the M&E system; thus, indicators are imperative for monitoring progress concerning inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impact. Progress needs to be monitored at all levels of the system to provide feedback on areas of achievement and areas in which improvement may be necessary (Kusek & Rist, 2004). To ensure that performance indicators are set right to serve their purpose effectively, several criteria are identified in the literature. The SMART criteria acknowledge that indicators should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-bound (Dale, 2003; Larson & Williams, 2009; Mulandi, 2013). Other standards or criteria for determining a good indicator are the SPICED criteria (Roche, 1999). He argues that indicators must be Subjective, Participatory, Interpreted and Communicable, Cross-checked and compared, Empowering and Diverse and disaggregated. Schiavo-Campo (1999), Gudda (2011) and lie et al. (2012) also outline the CREAM criteria. This implies that all indicators should be Clear, Relevant, Economic, Adequate and Monitorable. Gage and Dunn (2009) also define six characteristics of a good indicator as Valid, Reliable, Measurable, Precise, Timely and Programmatically relevant. It can, therefore, be concluded that indicators must pass the tests of reliability, feasibility and utility in decision making.

Types of monitoring and evaluation indicators

Two broad types of indicators are identified in the literature. They are qualitative indicators, also known as outcome or performance indicators and quantitative indicators, otherwise referred to as output indicators. Quantitative indicators tell whether the activities are taking place as planned and on the path to success. They do not, however, provide any information on the effect or impact they bring

Overview of project monitoring 25 about. Qualitative indicators, on the other hand, are usually concerned with change (outcome). They provide information on changes caused by the project in the lives of beneficiaries. Unlike quantitative indicators which are in numeric forms, qualitative indicators are non-numeric and help determine the level of progress towards the achievement of objectives. It is, therefore, necessary to monitor both process and impact of a project. Omonyo (2015) posits that different indicators must be developed for each level of results, at least one indicator for each level of core activity. This proposition, therefore, suggests a classification of indicators into input indicators, process or activity indicators, output indicators, results or outcome indicators and impact indicators. Input indicators will examine the needs of the project such as the resource requirement to undertake effective M&E while process indicators seek to ensure that plan activities are being done right at every stage of the M&E. Output indicators are relevant to measure the immediate achievement of a project or programme.

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