What is the difference between monitoring and evaluation?

Differences between monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation are the two management tools that help in keeping control of the organisation’s activities as well as raising the level of performance of a non-profit organization. Both these are critical for an organization to keep a tab on the progress of its programs and projects. However, they are different from each other in the way they collect information, and therefore, draw conclusions.

Monitoring and Evaluation – Overview #

Before explaining the difference between monitoring and evaluation, let us first understand what monitoring and evaluation mean.  Monitoring and evaluation are the two techniques for assessing the outcomes of a program or a project. Monitoring is the process of gathering information about a program or a project. This process includes collecting data, monitoring progress, and tracking key performance indicators. Evaluation, on the other, is the process of assessing the effectiveness of a program or a project. This process involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data.

Both monitoring and evaluation use metrics, metrics are a part of measurement in monitoring while it is outcomes with identified objectives. Read more: “Overview of Monitoring and Evaluation“.

Monitoring #

Monitoring is the process of collecting data about a program or a project. The purpose of monitoring is to track the progress of a project or program.  This data can be qualitative or quantitative, and it can be collected through monitoring tools such as progress reports, beneficiary reports, project reports, performance reports, etc. Monitoring can be internal (for the organization) or external.  It includes the review of existing data, the collection of new data, and the cross-checking of data.

For instance, if an organization is implementing a development project in a rural area, and there are some problems in building some of the infrastructures, the monitoring team will also document how these problems were solved.

Evaluation  #

Evaluation is a scientific process that gauges the success of the project or program in meeting the objectives. It is a systematic process to determine merit, worth, value or significance. Evaluation is the process of assessing the value or quality of something. It is a systematic way to measure and analyze the performance, effectiveness, and success of a program, policy, individual, or other entity. Evaluation is used to determine the impact of an intervention and to make decisions about how to improve it. Read also: “What is evaluation”

Differences between Monitoring and Evaluation #

Monitoring and evaluation are two different approaches used to track the progress of a project or program. While monitoring is the collection and review of existing data, evaluation involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data in order to draw conclusions about the success of a program or project.

While evaluation determines whether a program was successful or not, monitoring informs about the current status of the program.

Monitoring vs. Evaluation – Which Comes First? #

While both monitoring and evaluation are important, most of the time, evaluation should come after the implementation of a project or program. 

A project or program should begin with an evaluation. This is because monitoring would require already having the resources (people, materials, and time) to carry out the activity. 

For the evaluation process, you need to decide what you want to evaluate: process, outcomes, or impact. The evaluation should be based on clearly defined objectives. If the project has not been implemented yet, the evaluator will advise you on how to modify the project in order to achieve success. If the project has been implemented, the evaluator will assess whether the project is running as intended and offer recommendations for improvement.

                             Monitoring                                Evaluation
Monitoring is the systematic and routine collection of information about the programs/projects activitiesEvaluation is the periodic assessment of the programs/projects activities
It is ongoing process which is done to see if things/activities are going on track or not i.e. it regularly tracks the programIt is done on a periodic basis to measure the success against the objective i.e. it is an in-depth assessment of the program
Monitoring is to be done starting from the initial stage of the projectsEvaluation is to be done after certain point of time of the project, usually at the mid of the project, completion of the project or while moving from one stage to another stage of the projects/programs
Monitoring is done usually by the internal members of the teamEvaluation is done mainly done by the external members. However, sometimes it may be also done by  internal members of the team or by both internal and external members in a combined way
Monitoring provides information about the current status and thus helps to take immediate remedial actions, if necessaryEvaluation provides recommendations, information for long term planning and lessons for organizational growth and success
It focuses on input, activities and outputIt focuses on outcomes, impacts and overall goal
Monitoring process includes regular meetings, interview, monthly and quarterly reviews etc. Usually quantitative data.Evaluation process includes intense data collection, both qualitative and quantitative
It has multiple points of data collectionData collection is done at intervals only
It gives answer about the present scenario of the project towards achieving planned results considering the human resources, budget, materials, activities and outputsIt assesses the relevance, impact, sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency of the projects
Monitoring studies the present information and experiences of the projectEvaluation studies the past experience of the project performance
Monitoring checks whether the project did what it said it would doEvaluation checks whether what the project did had the impact that it intended
Helps to improve project design and functioning of current projectHelps to improve project design of future projects
Monitoring looks at detail of activitiesEvaluation does not look at detail of activities but rather looks at a bigger picture
It compares the current progress with the planned progressIt looks at the achievement of the programs along with both positive/negative, intended/unintended effects
Information obtained from monitoring is more useful to the implementation/management teamInformation obtained from evaluation is useful to all the stakeholders
Monitoring result is used for informed actions and decisionsEvaluation result is used for planning of new programs and interventions
Answers the question “Are we doing things right?”Answers the question “Are we doing right thing?”
Regular report and updates about the project/program act a deliverables hereReports with recommendations and lessons act as a deliverable here
Good or effective monitoring does not rely on evaluation resultsGood or effective evaluation relies to some extent on good monitoring
There are few quality checks in monitoringThere are many quality checks in evaluation
It provides information for evaluationIt provides information for proper planning
Monitoring versus Evaluation
Monitoring versus Evaluation