Global Launch of Handbook on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating for Development Results from UNDP.

Please note minor addendum to Evaluation [June 2011]

This ‘Handbook on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating for Development Results’ is an updated edition of the 2002 edition of ‘Handbook on Monitoring and Evaluation for Results’1. It seeks to address new directions in planning, monitoring and evaluation in the context of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) corporate strategic plan, the requirements of the UNDP evaluation policy approved by the Executive Board in 2006 and the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) ‘Standards for Evaluation in the UN System’2. The updated Handbook also incorporates information recommended by key users of the Handbook during various workshops held by UNDP units.

The guiding framework of UNDP for planning, monitoring and evaluation is provided in the ‘Programme and Operations Policy and Procedure’ (POPP)3 , the evaluation policy , and the UNEG ‘Standards for Evaluation in the UN System’. The POPP and evaluation policy4 aim to provide guidance to UNDP management and staff on key functions and mechanisms through which the results and principles enshrined in the overarching programmatic documents of UNDP, including the strategic plan, are to be achieved. They reflect the intentions of the Executive Board and also inform UNDP stakeholders of how UNDP conducts its work.

These documents provide the prescriptive content on what needs to be done, by whom and by when. This Handbook complements this content by providing UNDP programme units with guidance on ‘how to’ and practical tools to strengthen results-oriented planning, monitoring and evaluation in UNDP.

What does the Handbook do?

The objectives of this Handbook include the following:

  • To provide the reader with:
    • A basic understanding of the purposes, processes, norms, standards and guiding principles for planning, monitoring and evaluation within the UNDP development context
    • Knowledge of the essential elements of the planning and monitoring processes in UNDP: developing a robust results framework for projects and programmes, with clear indicators, baselines, and targets, and setting up an effective monitoring system
    • Knowledge of the essential elements of the evaluation process in UNDP: developing an evaluation plan, managing, designing and conducting quality evaluations, and using evaluation for managing for development results, learning and accountability
  • To enhance the results-based culture within UNDP and improve the quality of planning, monitoring and evaluation
Who is the Handbook for?

The Handbook has multiple and diverse audiences:

  • UNDP staff in country offices, regional bureaux, regional centres, Bureau for Development Policy (BDP), Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), Partnership Bureau, and other units that manage programmes5, such as:
    • Planning and monitoring global, regional and country programmes and other projects and activities
    • Managing the commissioning process of evaluations
  • UNDP managers who oversee and assure the quality of planning, monitoring and evaluation processes and products, and use monitoring and evaluation for decision-making
  • Stakeholders and partners, such as governments, United Nations and development partners, and beneficiaries, who are involved in  UNDP planning, monitoring and evaluation processes
  • The UNDP Executive Board, which oversees and supports the activities of UNDP, ensuring that the organization remains responsive to the evolving needs of programme countries
  • Independent evaluators who need to understand guiding principles, standards and processes for evaluation within the UNDP context
  • Members of the national, regional and global development and evaluation community

The reader of the Handbook will understand:

  • The importance of good programme and project design for effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • The critical role of monitoring in demonstrating the performance of programmes and projects, and in steering the implementation process towards the intended results
  • How monitoring lays the groundwork for evaluation
  • Different types of evaluations in UNDP and their contributions to learning and accountability
  • The role of monitoring and evaluation in strengthening UNDP development effectiveness and managing for development results
  • Principles, norms, standards, policy, processes and responsibilities governing planning, monitoring and evaluation in UNDP
  • Where to look for references and materials for additional information and guidance
How is the Handbook organized?

Chapter 1 of the Handbook provides an overview of the integrated nature of planning, monitoring and evaluation, and describes the critical role they play in managing for development results. Underlying the entire Handbook is the principle that planning, monitoring and evaluation must at all times be considered in relation to, and build upon, one another. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the conceptual foundations of planning and specific guidance on planning techniques and the preparation of results frameworks that guide monitoring and evaluation. Chapter 3 provides guidance on how to plan for monitoring and evaluation before implementing a plan. Chapter 4 focuses on issues related to monitoring, reporting and review. Chapters 5 through 7 provide an overview of the UNDP evaluation function and the policy framework, introduce key elements of evaluation design and tools and describe practical steps in managing the evaluation process. Chapter 8 presents practical steps and examples in using knowledge from monitoring and evaluation in managing for development results.

How should the Handbook be used?

This Handbook is not designed to be read cover-to-cover. It is intended to be use as a reference throughout the programme cycle.The Handbook is about planning, monitoring and evaluating results. It is not a Handbook on programme or project management. Some of the topics that would normally be covered in a programme and project management manual will therefore not be addressed in this Handbook, such as cost-benefit analyses, environmental impact assessments, technical appraisals and so forth. For these topics, the POPP should be consulted.

In addition, the following compendiums should accompany this Handbook to enhance understanding of pertinent topics:

  • Planning, monitoring and evaluation in conflict prevention and recovery settings, developed by BCPR
  • Guidelines on Outcome Evaluations (under development)

The compendiums are available on the Evaluation Office website at

The development of this Handbook was led jointly by the BDP, Evaluation Office and Operations Support Group, and was supported by valuable input from UNDP colleagues in Headquarters, regional bureaux and country offices.