Here at Aid Works, we have extensive experience of reviewing and developing monitoring systems for a range of NGOs and donors. Here are our top ten tips for developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system:
1. Be clear about the basics of the system – What data will you collect? Why are you collecting it? How will you collect it? How often will it be collected? How will you provide feedback?
2. Keep it simple to start with – only collect what is essential, then increase the amount collected over time if necessary.
3. Bear in mind that the more data you collect the more errors you will have.
4. Get the paper-based tools right before digitising, or looking at solutions like the DHIS 2.
5. Hold consultations with development partners – it is essential you coordinate your data collection with others
6. Use picture-based reporting in low literacy settings – you can capture a lot of useful data about services in this way. Try to standardise your pictures with other development partners.
7. If anyone starts a sentence “it would be nice to collect…” it’s probably not useful to collect it.
8. Don’t overburden your routine data collection – split your data collection into routine data (e.g. monthly or weekly), supervision data (e.g. quarterly), and survey data (e.g. annually).
9. Work out your indicator definitions clearly – how will they be calculated?
10. Try not to collect compound data e.g. “the number of malaria and diarrhoea cases” – it will be badly reported. Collect the data separately.
We’ve also made a short video, exploring the top data quality issues we find regularly in routine health data – watch here: Data Quality Tips.
If you need help improving your monitoring systems, we can help. Contact us to discuss your requirements.