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:
The key components on which the monitoring plan must be built are:
A set of useful key questions can help guide effective monitoring:
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.
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