4.2 Preparing to monitor by reinforcing the initial M&E plan
Once there is clear understanding on the monitoring policy, operational context, roles and responsibilities, one can prepare to implement monitoring actions. The first activity in implementing monitoring activities is to ensure that the M&E framework is up to date. The M&E framework prepared at the end of the planning stage of a programme or project (described in Chapter 3), forms the basis for this purpose. It should be carefully reviewed and elaborated as necessary.
There is no artificially fixed time for elaborating the M&E framework, except that it should be done prior to implementing programme initiatives and as close as possible to when actual implementation starts. For UNDP country, regional and global programmes, the detailed programme-level M&E framework should be prepared after the submission of the respective programme documents for Executive Board approval. The period of six to nine months prior to the beginning of the programme implementation cycle is often opportune to do this. For country programmes, this period is when the CPAP and its constituent projects and their AWPs are prepared. Such timing helps forge better linkages and mutual reinforcement between programmes and projects, thereby not only increasing the overall coherence of the programmes, but also enabling monitoring to be focused on a coherent set of programmatic activities and targets .
As noted in Chapter 3, the M&E framework comprises three components: a narrative component,a results framework, and a planning matrix for monitoring and evaluation. Any changes that might be needed to the narrative component are unlikely to be substantial, and updating of that component would be relatively straightforward. However, there might be a need to refine the results map and the planning matrix for monitoring and evaluation on the basis of new (and more accurate) information that emerges during the development of specific projects. Detailed information on the outcomes, outputs and related indicators, baselines, risks, and assumptions becomes clearer during the development stages of the CPAP and specific constituent projects, which takes place subsequent to the initial overall programme planning stage. Data that emerges during detailed project development stages could significantly improve the initial descriptions of outputs, indicators, baselines, risks and assumptions, and thereby enhance the effectiveness and quality of monitoring.Moreover, the M&E framework is first prepared at the end of the planning process, which is focused on planning for results. Detailed information pertaining to implementation or monitoring (for example, type or scheduling of monitoring events, methods to be used, and so forth) could not have been easily accessible or accurately predicted at that time. Therefore, it should be carefully reviewed and incorporated at this stage.
Elaborating the M&E framework provides the opportunity for the M&E framework to be a more realistic and effective tool for monitoring. An example of the planning matrix is given in Table 14 based on the sample results table on the enhanced capacity of electoral management authority discussed in Chapter 2.
For UNDP, at the country level, the CPAP is the overall instrument for managing results. The M&E framework for the CPAP should be prepared and finalized along with the CPAP and ideally be seen as a constituent component to the latter. Similarly, for regional and global programmes, M&E frameworks should be prepared mirroring the respective programme approved by the Executive Board.
Updating the M&E framework is not a one-time event. Each time a significant change to the results framework is effected, for example when existing projects are completed or new projects are added to the CPAP, both the CPAP and the M&E framework should be revised and approved. Annual work planning is the most pertinent point for this continuous updating of the CPAP and M&E framework.
The finalization of the CPAP and the M&E framework is a critical point in initiating monitoring. The following four actions should take place in this phase:
Once these activities have been completed, the monitoring actions can be systematically implemented.