Key Challenges Faced While Doing M&E

Oct 13, 2020 | by Phoebe C

Oct 13, 2020 | by

Monitoring & Evaluation Challenges & Solutions

In our blogs, we have talked about monitoring & evaluation, or M&E as it is called in short. While there are many benefits of monitoring and evaluating your projects, the truth is also that every M&E process might not run smoothly, and occasionally, you might run into a couple of issues when you implement them. While you are bound to face some sort of problems on your journey, you need to get through these issues and continue. The more times you overcome some of these challenges, the more successful your programs will be and more used to you & your organization will become to doing M&E. 

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Since you know, there are going to be challenges in doing M&E, it is often best to prepare for them ahead of time. In today’s article, we will talk about some of the challenges you might face when doing you M&E and how you can overcome them. 

  • Lack of Resources

M&E programs will cost you money and since you are an NGO, most of your capital is derived from fundraising and donors. Unfortunately, as many people don’t understand the benefits of M&E, you might face some challenges such as push back, stating that it is a waste of money.

How To Overcome It: Instead of trying to convince them with theoretical facts, you can go ahead and implement some of the small-scale M&E initiatives. These initiatives could yield some fast results and you can use some of the data to convince them how effective the processes are. 

  • Inaccurate Data

No matter how hard you try, not every strain of data that you gather will be accurate. Much like any other aspect of life, there are often many flaws that need to be straightened out with M&E, especially in the data-collection part until you find an effective solution. It is quite possible that there were errors while filling the data, false data was filled in, errors in calculation, data is lost, or in some cases, stakeholders or beneficiaries might try to glorify the results in order to please you. If the data is unreliable, you might not get effective results, which can set you back with your resources. 

How To Overcome It: I think one of the best solutions for all of these problems is to anticipate these issues and have checks built inside the data-collection process. In many psychological tests, the same question is asked in many different forms and shapes to make sure that the participant is not hiding or glorifying the results. I think that’s an important trick of the trade that we as M&E personnel can learn. To make sure that data collectors have not falsified the data, you can do validation or have a third party do it for you. Another important suggestion is to use technological tools wherever possible to eliminate human errors. Artemis Impact platform is one such tool that lets your team collect the data using a mobile phone, the data is then present to you in real-time, in an aggregated way. Not only will this save you lots of time, but also make sure that no data is lost, verify the geographic location of where the data was filled & more. 

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  • Ineffective Strategies

For many NGOs, the process of monitoring and evaluation is a novelty and they do not persist with the process. This often leads to ineffective strategies that do not generate the right data or give you false data. Acting upon false data impulsively could have severe long-term effects that could potentially damage your organization.

How To Overcome It: Trial and error is the best way to go in such a situation. However, you might need to double down your efforts and consult an expert to improve your strategies. It might be more expensive in the short term but yield better long-term results. Or you could look for organizations that provide training for NGOs. If you don’t have the resources for that, there are also free online courses available, one such course is Artemis Academy, which deals with impact measurement-related topics.

  • Using Modeled Frameworks

It is not unheard of to copy the same framework or data strategy as some of the successful NGOs. However, many of these frameworks have been tailored to meet the needs of the organization. You might not have the same organizational format and this could lead to ineffective data processing or false data analysis. Also, some of the frameworks are designed for the western world and they might not fit with the eastern sensibilities of your stakeholders or your donors. 

How To Overcome It: You might want to spend some time delving deeper into the core of your organization and understanding what you aim to achieve. You must develop your framework to be congruent with your organization’s goals. So it might need some mixing and match with different frameworks as well. 

  • Involving Stakeholders Effectively

Many people might be wary of directly involving stakeholders, as unproven M&E projects can be seen as a risk. Once the stakeholders find out, it could lead to tension between the various parties, strain your relationship with them and perhaps even limit your funding for future projects.

How To Overcome It: It is best to have all stakeholders involved and to have some input from them before you implement a project. One of the best tips we could give you here is to involve stakeholders in the planning process, & explain to them the objectives and need for M&E. 

  • Revealing Negative Results To Donors

We work hard to find donors that help us fund the NGO and get these projects up and running. However, donors often have clauses and expectations that need to be met and many NGOs are wary of revealing negative data to donors.

How To Overcome It: This is more of a psychological point that you need to focus on and while you should be honest and upfront, you also need to explain the situation. Revealing negative results with a firm action plan to rectify it could take the focus off the negative results.

Wrap Up

Regardless of your successes or failures, M&E is relevant and should always be implemented if you want the best possible results. These challenges you face when doing M&E might seem impossible for many, but they can be overcome with a little bit of ingenuity. The practice is really the key here to understand the concepts and implement them properly. In addition, embrace technology, many NGOs are skeptical of adopting new tools, but the truth of the matter is that the world is changing fast, even faster now with the COVID19 pandemic. It makes it imperative for NGOs to adapt to the changing times if they want to stay relevant and continue to make an impact. 

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Read more about M&E below :

What is the Purpose of M&E?

What is M&E?

M&E: Best practices

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