Monitoring and Evaluation Systems require twelve main components in order to function effectively and efficiently to achieve the desired results. These twelve M&E components are discussed in detail below:
1. Organizational Structures with M&E Functions
The adequate implementation of M&E at any level requires that there is a unit whose main purpose is to coordinate all the M&E functions at its level. While some entities prefer to have an internal organ to oversee its M&E functions, others prefer to outsource such services. This component of M&E emphasizes the need for M&E unit within the organization, how elaborate its roles are defined, how adequately its roles are supported by the organizations hierarchy and how other units within the organization are aligned to support the M&E functions within the organization.
2. Human Capacity for M&E
An effective M&E implementation requires that there is only adequate staff employed in the M&E unit, but also that the staff within this unit have the necessary M&E technical know-how and experience. As such, this component emphasizes the need to have the necessary human resource that can run the M&E function by hiring employees who have adequate knowledge and experience in M&E implementation, while at the same time ensuring that the M&E capacity of these employees are continuously developed through training and other capacity building initiatives to ensure that they keep up with current and emerging trends in the field.
3. Partnerships for Planning, Coordinating and Managing the M&E System
A prerequisite for successful M&E systems whether at organizational or national levels is the existence of M&E partnerships. Partnerships for M&E systems are for organizations because they complement the organization’s M&E efforts in the M&E process and they act as a source of verification for whether M&E functions align to intended objectives. They also serve auditing purposes where line ministries, technical working groups, communities and other stakeholders are able to compare M&E outputs with reported outputs.
4. M&E frameworks/Logical Framework
The M&E framework outlines the objectives, inputs, outputs and outcomes of the intended project and the indicators that will be used to measure all these. It also outlines the assumptions that the M&E system will adopt. The M&E framework is essential as it links the objectives with the process and enables the M&E expert know what to measure and how to measure it.
5. M&E Work Plan and costs
Closely related to the M&E frameworks is the M&E Work plan and costs. While the framework outlines objectives, inputs, outputs and outcomes of the intended project, the work plan outlines how the resources that have been allocated for the M&E functions will be used to achieve the goals of M&E. The work plan shows how personnel, time, materials and money will be used to achieve the set M&E functions.
6. Communication, Advocacy and Culture for M&E
This refers to the presence of policies and strategies within the organization to promote M&E functions. Without continuous communication and advocacy initiatives within the organization to promote M&E, it is difficult to entrench the M&E culture within the organization. Such communication and strategies need to be supported by the organizations hierarchy. The existence of an organizational M&E policy, together with the continuous use of the M&E system outputs on communication channels are some of the ways of improving communication, advocacy and culture for M&E
7. Routine Programme Monitoring
M&E consists of two major aspects: monitoring and evaluation. This component emphasizes the importance of monitoring. Monitoring refers to the continuous and routine data collection that takes place during project implementation. Data needs to be collected and reported on a continuous basis to show whether the project activities are driving towards meeting the set objectives. They also need to be integrated into the program activities for routine gathering and analysis.
8. Surveys and Surveillance
This involves majorly the national level M&E plans and entails how frequently relevant national surveys are conducted in the country. National surveys and surveillance needs to be conducted frequently and used to evaluate progress of related projects. For example, for HIV and AIDS national M&E plans, there needs to be HIV related surveys carried at last bi-annually and used to measure HIV indicators at the national level.
9. National and Sub-national databases
The data world is gradually becoming open source. More and more entities are seeking data that are relevant for their purposes. The need for M&E systems to make data available can therefore not be over-emphasized. This implies that M&E systems need to develop strategies of submitting relevant, reliable and valid data to national and sub-national databases.
10. Supportive Supervision and Data Auditing
Every M&E system needs a plan for supervision and data auditing. Supportive supervision implies that an individual or organization is able to supervise regularly the M&E processes in such a way that the supervisor offers suggestions on ways of improvement. Data auditing implies that the data is subjected to verification to ensure its reliability and validity. Supportive supervision is important since it ensures the M&E process is run efficiently, while data auditing is crucial since all project decisions are based on the data collected.
11. Evaluation and Research
One aspect of M&E is research. The other is evaluation. Evaluation of projects is done at specific times most often mid- term and at the end of the project. Evaluation is an important component of M&E as it establishes whether the project has met he desired objectives. It usually provides for organizational learning and sharing of successes with other stakeholders.
12. Data Dissemination and Use
The information that is gathered during the project implementation phase needs to be used to inform future activities, either to reinforce the implemented strategy or to change it. Additionally, results of both monitoring and evaluation outputs need to be shared out to relevant stakeholders for accountability purposes. Organizations must therefore ensure that there is an information dissemination plan either in the M&E plan, Work plan or both.