Benefits of effective monitoring and evaluation
Studies have shown a plethora of benefits derived from the effective M&E of projects (Kamau & Mohamed, 2015; Otieno, 2000; Tache, 2011). Implementation of monitoring and evaluation seeks to guarantee ultimate project success through the achievement of immediate project outcomes such as conformity to standards and the achievement of budget and schedule as well as long-term objectives such as fit for purpose (impact). The collective achievement of all immediate outcomes indicates that M&E are effective and, therefore, the success of the project is achieved (Chin, 2012; Ika et al., 2012; Papke-Shields et al., 2010). A study by Papke-Shields et al. (2010) revealed that conformity to project specification (quality) would be achieved when projects are effectively monitored and evaluated. The study further accentuates the achievement of projects within the approved budget (cost) and project duration (time) when M&E are effectively undertaken (Papke-Shields et al., 2010). Further, human organizational capacity and that of stakeholders are developed through effective M&E along with effective communication (Papke-Shields et al., 2010).
Beyond achieving direct project objectives such as cost, time and quality, organizations are afforded with the opportunity to learn (organizational learning) from previous practices and activities to help improve current and future project implementation and better decision making (Chipato, 2016). Donor agencies and project financiers are satisfied with the accountability level of projects given an effective M&E practice ensuring future interest in funding development projects by donors. Contractors are guided through the project implementation process which guarantees the utmost performance of contractors. An effective project M&E practice ensures a healthy project implementation environment where all stakeholders are well represented on the project and given the opportunity to contribute to the project. Also, scarce project resources are committed to judicious use. A greater benefit of effective M&E is the assurance that project activities are done right the first time to eliminate rework (which is a likely contributorto increased project budget and extended project duration) arising from design and construction errors.
M&E activities improve communication between different stakeholders. This affords stakeholders better understanding of implementation issues regarding all aspects of the project. To make communication effective, a constructive environment for exchange and discussion is essential. Clear and transparent communication mechanisms such as regular meetings, workshops, reporting and information sharing via the Internet or printed media should also be established. It can therefore be concluded that the indicators of a successful project such as achieved project time, conformity to standards, achieving project cost, stakeholder satisfaction, contractor performance, health and safety, value for money, environmental performance, end-user satisfaction, client satisfaction and fitness for purpose are achieved through the effective implementation of M&E of projects.
Challenges to monitoring and evaluation
M&E implementation is challenged on many fronts. This section discusses M&E challenges under three broad categories, namely technical-level, organizational-level and project-level challenges.
2.9.1 Organizational-level challenges
At the organizational level, Cameron (1993) discusses the lack of M&E units within the organization as a significant challenge for the M&E of projects. Without an M&E unit, planning responsibilities toward the M&E of projects are rendered ineffective. The need to strengthen the planning and implementation of M&E for efficient project delivery is paramount. When they studied the barriers to M&E implementation in the Ghanaian construction industry, Tengan and Aigbavboa (2016) identified weak institutional capacity as influencing the performance of M&E significantly, as well as lack of technical capacity, skills and knowledge among M&E staff for the M&E process. This resulted in project failure from the onset. In addition, special skills and knowledge are required in planning and undertaking M&E, hence the need for concerted continuous training on M&E for M&E team and project staff. Badom (2016) also laments the seeming non-existence of M&E plans or system integration during planning, budgeting and infrastructure development.
This potentially puts M&E in disarray; there are no set indicators to measure progress and impact and, as such, any level of performance is acceptable. Muriithi and Crawford (2003) further advanced that one major challenge observed at the managerial level of organizations that impact the M&E of the project is the struggle for power between M&E unit staff. In addition, the general organizational structure is said to influence project M&E. This does not allow the M&E unit the independence and self-sufficiency to deal with all setbacks in the M&E of projects. A major attribute of effective M&E is its support for decision making
Overview of project monitoring 27 and organizational learning. Unfortunately, M&E information and reports are poorly utilized to inform the organizational planning process and implementation of future projects in the Ghanaian construction industry (Tengan & Aigbavboa, 2016). Significant among the challenges to the adoption of the BIM technology in the UK are the lack of investment and poor demand for its use by clients (Kim & Park, 2013).
2.9.2 Project-based challenges
The successful implementation of M&E at the project level is hinged on the effective planning for M&E at the management level. At the project level, limited financial resources affect the M&E process negatively (Badom, 2016; Cameron, 1993; Tengan & Aigbavboa, 2016). The approaches adopted in collecting project information for decision making renders the quality of data collected poor and inadequate for management to base their decision on for future projects (Tengan & Aigbavboa, 2016). Similarly, the challenges in collecting and analyzing M&E data have been acknowledged which requires the need for relevant information to be generated through effective data collection and analysis to ensure good management decision on M&E activities on the project (Otieno, 2000). Communication during the M&E of projects is critical. Diallo and Thuillier (2005) link project success to communication between key stakeholders on the project. Poor communication is further exacerbated by the insufficient information on project design as well as the inconsistency of project information, namely drawings, specifications and bill of quantities available for the M&E.
2.9.3 Technical-based challenges
Technical challenges rendering the ineffectiveness of monitoring and evaluation of projects are reviewed. According to Bamberger, Rao and Woolcock, (2010) and Chaplowe (2008), the weak demand for evaluation utilization poses a challenge towards implementation. As has been noted in previous sections, the diverse focus of M&E, considering the specific needs of the project stakeholders and donors which have generated several operational definitions toward describing what M&E entails, poses the lack of comparable definitions as opined by Patton (2003). This has created different understandings of effective M&E implementation. Also, Auriacombe (2013) asserts that various attempts made to classify evaluation methods were aimed at simplifying the puzzling array of available methods. However, the attempts have instead created confusion regarding the understanding of the evaluation field. The challenge of weak linkage between planning and M&E is reported by Seasons (2003) and the weak legal and institutional frameworks on monitoring and evaluation (Basheka & Byamugisha, 2015) cannot be overlooked. A sound system must exhibit the characteristics which describe the criteria for assessing the quality of an M&E system. The schedule in Table 2.4 summarizes the various categories challenges in M&E implementation.
Table 2.4 Categories of M&.E challenges
28 Performance management and measurement