Art of the Possible #5: Using Your Results
This is the fifth entry from Chris Wood in the "Art of the Possible: Technology and Tools for Improved Monitoring and Evaluation" blog series, which covers design, data collection, databases, analysis, and using your results. All articles cover the use of technology, the options available and how to decide on the best approach for your projects. This article explores how to get the most from your results in your M&E system.
You have run a great program and;
- Designed a comprehensive M&E system
- Collected masses of good quality data
- Analysed the data to identify the key points
- Created charts and graphics to tell the story
Now what? What can you do to get the best from the results you have produced?
All programs should use the M&E information to do two things:
1. Improve the ways in which the program is delivered to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Prove that the program delivers the stated goals
There are two basic audiences for your results: internal and external.
Internal audiences will consist of the Board, management team and project managers. They need data to make decisions to improve the program design and operational delivery.
Their aim is to drive efficiency; to be able to do more, faster with less people and at less cost. The type of questions that they need answers to include:
- Are the drop-out rates acceptable?
- Can trainers record M&E data?
- Is our technology fit for purpose?
- Do we need an application and interview?
External audiences will consist of your stakeholders such as donors, sponsors, the local community and volunteers. They need to be convinced that the project works and that you can prove it. The type of questions that they need answers to include:
- How many students have got a job?
- Could the program provide different training?
- Can the same impact be delivered for less effort and money?
- How can this program be scaled or delivered elsewhere?
Data is just a bunch of numbers and words. You need to analyse the data to generate your results.
Questions such as “How many?” or “How often?” can be simple to answer by counting or averaging numbers. This is an output analysis and by using other student data, you will be able to answer questions such as:
- How many students graduated?
- Ratio of students with higher scores after training?
- What is the ratio of male to female?
Questions such as “What difference did you make?” tend to be harder to answer and require you to infer results from the data. These tend to be outcome analyses and will enable you to answer questions such as:
- The increase in student motivation
- Which students are more likely to be hired
- The increased standard of living
One of the reasons you have implemented M&E is to prove that your projects work. Therefore, when you report your results, you must consider the purpose and audience for each report. This table describes what some typical audiences want from your reports, and some ideas of what you expect to receive in return. It is the “outcome” column which gives you the reason you are providing the reports - so you need to make sure you target the information appropriately.
|Donors and grant bodies||Demonstrate that the program works||Secure additional funding|
|Government||Illustrate the impact of the program on the community||Secure permission to scale the program and influence policy|
|Attract potential supporters or donors|
The way in which you present your results is also very important and key to achieving your outcomes.
- The audience - How large is the group? What do they want to hear or learn?
- The content - How to best present the information so that the audience understands? Video, charts or spreadsheets.
- The format - How do they want to receive the information? Slides, printed report, or a website.
In summary, you need to carefully consider what you will do with the results of your M&E activities.
The main points to consider are:
- Data is required by different people for different purposes
- The role of M&E is to prove and improve the program’s impact
- Make sure your results are presented in the right way
- Get crystal clear on the appropriate message to your target audience
What do you want them to do as a result?