a) ISSUES TO ADDRESS IN PROJECT MONITORING
Monitoring is a continuing function that aims primarily to provide the management and main stakeholders of an ongoing project with early indications of progress, or lack thereof, in the achievement of results as well as the progress in the utilization of the allocated funds.
Project monitoring encompasses collection of information on the project formulation, identification, resource need and bottlenecks. The people involved in monitoring therefore must use appropriate tools to gather the information; these tools include: field notes, interviews, discussions and observation. This process however has issues to be addressed and failure to address them might result to ineffective monitoring which could have a serious effect on the project being monitored. It should be noted that monitoring feeds evaluation; that is, the information gathered from monitoring is used in evaluating the project. Therefore all issues of importance to the project must be dealt with to ensure effective development of the project at hand.
The following issues must be addressed when monitoring any project:
First, it is vital to ask whether the project is being implemented as per the plan. Projects do have a comprehensive description contained in a preliminary project charter. This document usually includes the implementation process. Therefore when doing monitoring, it is essential to fast-track the implementation in light of the project charter. See whether there have been changes towards achieving the project’s overall goal, and if there are any, then the correct intervention to be put in plans to ensure effective implementation of the project.
Second, it is worth to enquire whether the project is on target. The progression of the project towards its desired goal should be one of the primary issues of interest to those doing monitoring. When monitoring, one should always check whether the results, purpose and general objectives are in line with the needs of beneficiaries and are being implemented or executed in accordance with the plan.
Third, when monitoring it is ideal to inquire whether the participants or beneficiaries receiving the services proposed. Since all projects are intended to achieve a particular aim at their completion, project manager should monitor if the results are symmetrical to needs and aspirations of the target population.
Fourth, project manager involved in monitoring should question whether the project creating a difference in the lives of the target population. The utility of the project should be measure by the impact it brings to the lives of the population it targets. In addition, the issue of sustainability should be figured out; for instance, looking at how long the positive impact brought about by the project is likely to last after its closure.
Fifth, the issues of whether the operations designs are efficient and effective should be addressed. Because monitoring main subject is to address operational management issue, the persons involved in carrying out monitoring should ensure the best practices are used in execution of the project and if not, then propose an intervention that will ensure efficiency and effective running of the project. Operational effectiveness and efficiency will not only ensure achieving specific and general goals of a project but will also curb resource wastage resulting to economically sound inputs that yield desired results.
Last but not least, project manager should question the role of monitoring; is it a worthwhile function? Therefore, an appropriate monitoring design should be chosen for the project being monitored. In this way, the project staff will know how the activities are progressing and in case of things not going as planned, they would be informed and warned for appropriate course of action. If the function of monitoring is not addressed, it might as well be rendered useless in project management.
b) BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE PROCESS OF MONITORING
Monitoring is an integral part of any project and thus should be carried out with due diligence. For any project to be monitored effective, the project manager or any other entity involved in monitoring be use the ideas below as point of reference:
1. Monitoring system should have an indicator or measure specifying the expected performance.
2. Monitoring process should use an indicator of the actual performance as determined from the field to ascertain whether the baseline plan is being achieved or not.
3. Feedback information should result from the information collected from the field, that is, actual performance during the execution of the project.
4. Feedback information resulting from monitoring should be used for decision making
5. When decision taken, action prescribed in form of an intervention
6. When an action is taken, verification should be done to done and results evaluated. That is action is often followed by a follow up.
7. Monitoring design should reflect the methodology of the initial project appraisal and project planning process.
8. Monitoring should involve the participation of all project stakeholders.