The M&E Framework

This article is part 2 of 3 in the issue Monitoring and Evaluation in Public and Project Management

M&E Framework is a set of configurations that aid the process of collecting and analyzing data and reporting progress on performance of projects and programs mainly in terms of expenditures allocated to them. M&E Framework and Performance Management Plan, PMP (or simply M&E Plan) are used interchangeably. Framework or Plan is practically the same thing; only differing in context, size or scope.

In the Public Service context, the PMP (M&E Plan) is usually designed for an entire Ministry, with Departments and Agencies as component units within the system; whereas, the M&E Framework is designed for projects domiciled within Ministries, Departments and Agencies – or something approximate to that.

In the private sector, the PMP (M&E Plan) is normally designed for a developmental program comprising a collection of donor-funded projects (project portfolio) while an M&E Framework is designed for a single unit or independent project. The M&E framework then becomes one part of the PMP (M&E Plan), with a lesser evaluation scope.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, located in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, and working side by side with the Ministry of Finance, has been tasked with the mandate to coordinate government planning, monitoring and evaluation towards ensuring transparent and efficient spending and service delivery for addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality at the national or subnational levels.

Owing to the widespread lack of capacity in the Public Service, Consultants are largely recruited to support the design and initial operation of the framework or plan, as well as to develop the capacity of staff of user-organizations. In development projects, the donors usually train the program/ project managers for this crucial task.

The M&E Plan incorporates the Results Framework, the Logical Framework, the Indicators, and the Evaluation Plan. The ‘Results Framework’ is a graphical illustration that links various result levels to specific objectives and the goal, in a hierarchical bottom-up arrangement. The ‘Logical Framework’ (Log-frame) tends to show how inputs are connected to intermediate results (outputs, outcomes), and further to higher results (impacts that reflect goal attainment) in form of matrices (table of rows and columns).

Smaller Projects adopt only the Log-Frame design approach whereas complex organizations integrate both the Results Framework and the Log-Frame, with modifications.

Despite the approach an organization prefers to adopt, the most important questions to answer are: what appropriate indicators should be used, and how are they going to be quantitatively defined? [At times baseline and target figures are sketched to fortify the indicator definitions.] How will the data collection, analysis and reporting flow through the organization, i.e., who will be responsible for the data collection, analysis and reporting and what tools will be used? Who will make decisions using the data? And what time intervals will the measurement cover?

Any good M&E framework/ Plan must be carefully thought out, and should clearly define the plan’s goal and the systematic steps that need to be taken to reach that goal.

The next important step in designing the M&E Framework is choosing the indicators.

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