1.2. Putting planning, monitoring and evaluation together: Results-based management

Planning, monitoring and evaluation come together as RBM. RBM is defined as “a broad management strategy aimed at achieving improved performance and demonstrable results,”7 and has been adopted by many multilateral development organizations, bilateral development agencies and public administrations throughout the world.  (as noted earlier, some of these organizations now refer to RBM as MfDR to place the emphasis on development rather than organizational results.)

Good RBM is an ongoing process. This means that there is constant feedback, learning and improving. Existing plans are regularly modified based on the lessons learned through monitoring and evaluation, and future plans are developed based on these lessons.

Monitoring is also an ongoing process. The lessons from monitoring are discussed periodically and used to inform actions and decisions. Evaluations should be done for programmatic improvements while the programme is still ongoing and also inform the planning of new programmes. This ongoing process of doing, learning and improving is what is referred to as the RBM life-cycle approach, which is depicted in

*Note: Planning, monitoring and evaluation should not necessarely be approached in a sequential manner. The conduct of an evaluation does not always take place at the end of the cycle. Evaluations can take place at any point in time during the programming cycle. This figure aims to illustrate the inter-connected nature of planning, monitoring and evaluation to support MfDR. Planning for monitoring and evaluation must take place at the planning stage (see Chapter 3).

RBM is concerned with learning, risk management and accountability. Learning not only helps improve results from existing programmes and projects, but also enhances the capacity of the organization and individuals to make better decisions in the future and improves the formulation of future programmes and projects. Since there are no perfect plans, it is essential that managers, staff and stakeholders learn from the successes and failures of each programme or project.

There are many risks and opportunities involved in pursuing development results. RBM systems and tools should help promote awareness of these risks and opportunities, and provide managers, staff, stakeholders and partners with the tools to mitigate risks or pursue opportunities.

RBM practices and systems are most effective when they are accompanied by clear accountability arrangements and appropriate incentives that promote desired behaviour. In other words, RBM should not be seen simply in terms of developing systems and tools to plan, monitor and evaluate results. It must also include effective measures for promoting a culture of results orientation and ensuring that persons are accountable for both the results achieved and their actions and behaviour.

The main objectives of good planning, monitoring and evaluation—that is, RBM—are to:

  • Support substantive accountability to governments, beneficiaries, donors, other partners and stakeholders, and the UNDP Executive Board
  • Prompt corrective action
  • Ensure informed decision-making
  • Promote risk management
  • Enhance organizational and individual learning

These objectives are linked together in a continuous process, as shown in Figure 2.