Project Monitoring Plan

IR takes place in complex environments. As a result, project execution does not always proceed as planned. This makes development of a monitoring plan all the more important for IR projects. As with the development of the overall project plan, developing a monitoring plan should be as iterative and participatory as possible. It should take into consideration the information needs of all stakeholders. You should be mindful of the project objectives and the assumptions that underpin its success or failure.

The monitoring plan should be developed in a transparent way so that all team members/stakeholders are aware of the plan, and also understand their respective roles and responsibilities. An effective monitoring plan must guard against any potential errors in practice, and conform to several related standards:

  • Utility: It must be useful and serve the practical and strategic information needs of the intended users for action, these may range from assessing project performance to allocating resources, etc.
  • Feasibility: It must be realistic and practical. Given the scarcity of resources, the plan should make the best use of existing data collection systems. However, if new data collection systems are involved, resources (cost and technical capacity) must be carefully considered.
  • Ethics: Monitoring involves data collection, storage, analysis and communicating information about participants. The entire process should therefore abide by ethical principles with regard to those involved in and/or affected by the monitoring activities.
  • Accuracy: Data should measure what it is intended to measure and the monitoring plan should provide technically accurate and useful information for decision-making and project improvement.

The key components on which the monitoring plan must be built are:

  • Scope of the monitoring: specifying the project goals and developing the conceptual framework that integrates inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes.
  • Methodological approach: describing the methodology, indicators, data sources and analysis plan.
  • Implementation plan: describing roles and responsibilities and timelines for monitoring activities.
  • Dissemination plan and use of results: describing the dissemination strategy including feedback to relevant stakeholders.

A set of useful key questions can help guide effective monitoring:

  • What information is needed and what are the sources?
  • Who should be involved in the monitoring?
  • When should the monitoring be conducted?
  • What is its communication strategy and data use?

Key steps in developing a project monitoring plan

Before you develop a monitoring plan, you must define the overall project goal and objectives, the context in which the project is operating and the key stakeholders. Sufficient resources and technical capacity to conduct the proposed monitoring activities and realistic timelines also need to be established. Since monitoring activities involve data collection from, or about human subjects, ethical principles must be observed throughout the entire process, and should be an integral part of the original protocol. Figure 4, summarizes 13 key steps for consideration when developing a monitoring plan. However, note that these steps are not necessarily independent of each other and may substantially overlap.

Reviewing the objectives and scope of the project

The review of project objectives and how their success can be defined helps the generation of a road map for monitoring the activities. The monitoring plan must consider the key activities, target audience(s), primary monitoring activities and realistic timelines. The scope of the project refers to: i) coverage/geographical area; ii) level of health system at which the project is being implemented (e.g. health facility, community); iii) target population; and iv) stakeholders. Table 7 illustrates the objectives and scope of a research project that aimed to improve polio vaccination coverage in a county of Nigeria, through mobilizing state and local government authorities in a grass roots mobilization campaign ‘Majigi’, a road- side film show conducted in communities through mobile vans.3

TDR Implementation research toolkit(Second edition)

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