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This article is taken from the April 2000 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Logframes can be useful

In the last edition of the newsletter we discussed the basics of Project Cycle Management, and explained that the central feature of this approach is the logframe. In many instances logframes are constructed by officials who feel they are only doing this work because the funder insists on a logframe, and so they grow to resent anything to do with logframes. Anything imposed from outside, without being properly explained and integrated, will appear burdensome. Logframes, because of their technical language, are easily hated. In this article we outline the useful role a logframe can play in the design of a monitoring and evaluation system for one’s project or programme.

Levels of monitoring

The primary purpose of an M&E system is to enable managers of the various projects and implementing agencies to monitor progress and performance (and in turn react to the information). At a higher level in the management hierarchy, and over the longer term, the effect and impact of the programme on beneficiaries can be evaluated. For both monitoring and evaluation, reporting the results in accessible format to all role-players is a critical challenge, as is communication with the general public and target groups. Central to any M&E system is the participation and contribution of stakeholders in the design.

M&E design

Steps in designing a monitoring and evaluation framework include: assessing the institutional arrangements and organisational structures in the programme and information needs at each level; using the logframe matrix as a project planning, monitoring and evaluation design tool; and identifying key indicators with which to measure progress.

Having established the key organisational arrangements for the programme, the next stage in the design of the monitoring and evaluation system itself is the analysis of the objectives, purpose, results and activities of the programme using the logframe.

The logframe identifies the overall objective and purpose of the programme. Moreover, it explains how the programme will meet the objective and purpose through the implementation of projects (usually at the results level). Moreover, each result/ project has a unique set of activities that will ensure that the results are delivered.

For the implementation of a programme there are three logframe levels. However, for each level (row) within the logframe there are different types of indicators. Those for the activity and results level primarily measure progress in programme implementation. Indicators at purpose and overall objectives level measure effect and impact of the programme.

The relationship between the levels of the logframe and the type of indicator and information contained in the indicator is defined below for a programme level logframe.

The selection of indicators is the next key step in the design of the monitoring and evaluation system. It is important in the design of the M&E programme that the indicators (the Objectively Verifiable Indicators or OVIs) identified are appropriate to the monitoring of programme and project delivery. Experience has shown that poorly specified OVIs are a major weakness of M&E systems.

A second weakness to guard against is the listing of too many OVIs. Project managers will have to ask themselves whether they need the information specified in OVIs to manage the programme and make decisions. If they do not need the information for this purpose, they should leave the OVI out and use it for ad hoc purposes.

A critical step in the design of a monitoring and evaluation system lies in ‘operationalising’ the indicators that are to be monitored. In other words, translating policy themes into specifications about what data should be collected, how it would be gathered, and how it would be analysed.

The success of a monitoring system lies in the availability of accurate, timeous data. This is often achieved through the design of a simple system. Some key performance indicators or OVIs will have to be excluded if the system if it is to be cost-effective and manageale. There must be a deliberate and purposeful decision to monitor performance regarding certain information and not all. Key decisions revolve around what data needs to be collected, what variables need to be assessed, how data needs to be analysed, how often, for what purpose and to whom the data should be reported.

 

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