Now what about identifying the information you need to collect?
As mentioned previously, effective M&E provides detailed and objective information for enabling improvements in a project. This must be preceded by stages of careful design and deliberation of measurable aspects. In other words, it is common to identify key performance indicators (or KPIs) that will serve as metrics for tracking and monitoring variables of interest in the evaluation.
What is a KPI?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable variables used to signal progress or achievements against pre-defined standards or objectives (Lime et al., 2004).
They are the compilations of data measures used to assess the performance or impacts of project (Toor & Ongunlana, 2010). Indicators are helpful to compare the actual and estimated performance of a project, in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and overall quality (Cox et al., 2003).
These KPIs may provide quantitative information, which is expressed in numerical terms and can answer questions like “what”, “how many”, and “when”. Or they may provide qualitative information, which is expressed through descriptive prose and can address questions like ‘why’ and ‘how’, as well as perceptions, attitudes and beliefs. Indicators of project performance and outcome depend on the objectives pursued and the strategies adopted, which vary from project to project.
A good indicator clearly demonstrates the expected progress or result. It measures the intended change as accurately as possible. It is clearly defined, easily understood, and easily measured. The specific KPIs chosen will depend on the overall goals and specific context of your own project.
Indicators need to be SMART:
- Specific: Your indicators should be precise. They should lead to collection of similar data by different people or by the same person a second time.
- Measurable: Indicators should be based on accessible data that can be obtained efficiently.
- Achievable: Ask yourself: Am I aiming too high? Are my indicators realistic and truly obtainable?
- Relevant: Is the indicator demonstrably linked to the objective you wish to measure?
- Time-bound: Ask yourself: What is the timeframe in which I want to develop and implement this project? What is achievable in that timeframe?