Explain how you will monitor the delivery of your project
Monitoring is, first and foremost, about ensuring that your project is running according to plan. It is mainly just about requesting 'facts', e.g. that staff were recruited by the specified date, that the number of advice sessions is in line with the agreed profile, and so on.
Include a clear description of what you will monitor, how you will monitor it and when (e.g. partner meetings and at mid-term). Also set out the arrangements you have put in place for reporting project progress, making it clear who is going to consider and act on this information. It may also be worth taking time to identify key risks to the delivery of your project and how to overcome them. This will help you think about the critical issues involved in its delivery and it will reassure funders that you have contingency plans in place, should anything go wrong.
Although they are linked, 'monitoring' and 'evaluation' are different activities. As a rule, you 'monitor' the delivery of your outputs, while you 'evaluate' your project outcomes.
Evaluation is an integral part of many projects and is best understood as a system that builds on the monitoring processes to look in greater depth at the impacts you are having. Most evaluations combine analysis of feedback from interviews, feedback sheets, and general engagement with the project and its stakeholders. It is worth looking for hard outcomes (numbers of 'things') and soft outcomes (peoples' perceived changes, like 'happier'/'more confident'/'more likely to progress in work' etc.).
There are two kinds of evaluation normally carried out:
- Formative – helping inform the project as it goes (mid way point is typical)
- Summative – calculating the overall effect once it is finished or drawing to a close. Sometimes it can be some time after the project finishes. Useful for making suggestions to aid sustainability and get an idea of 'success' and 'where next'
An external evaluator can be useful for larger projects – giving an external point of view and asking questions that you as a manager or partner may not be able to.
Whatever approach you take, develop your evaluation plan at the start of your project.