Monitoring systems

To assess how well your project is progressing you might need to track numbers (quantitative measures) or people’s feelings and experiences (qualitative measures) or both.

Have a plan for how you will do this right from the start – what is measured is what gets done, so make sure you’re measuring the right things!

You don’t need to spend £1000s on an elaborate database: sometimes the simplest Excel spreadsheet or Access database can be just as effective. Are there existing monitoring systems you can use? You may need to develop new systems too, using methods such as questionnaires, interviews and reports. Make things as easy as you can for people to collect the information you want by producing sample templates, using pre-printed carbonated pads and questionnaires.

Gathering information on outcomes

  • For each outcome, what methods do you have in place to collect information (carbonated pads, email, internal forms, a database, provider registers etc)? Could you provide evidence to support your figures if required?
  • Who will collect information? Do they understand why they need to collect this information, and how it will be used? Are they aware of Data Protection issues and what they need to do?
  • When and how often will information be collected? To whom will it go (e.g. if ULRs are involved, do they know that it goes to their Project Worker each month who forwards it to the Project Manager?).
  • Make sure everyone knows you are interested in case studies, success stories, trends, areas of difficulty and so on, and make it as easy as possible for people to collect that information.
  • Do you have a signed agreement with your providers, setting out what they will share, when you will receive it and the source of the information (enrolment forms, registers, surveys, achievements from examining boards).

Project managers often find that other outcomes arise from their work that they weren’t expecting. These can be very positive and may form the basis of follow-on work and bids. Will your monitoring systems pick up such unexpected positives?