Monitor your business effectively- Monitoring and Evaluation


By Chris Langefeld

Implementing a successful monitoring and evaluation system can be challenging but project manager and strategic planning facilitator, Chris Langefeld shares the secrets to developing a system that yields results.

‘There has been a shift in management systems, from one of spending budgets to a results-driven approach’ says Langefeld. This shift, which originated in the 1990’s, has now become a worldwide trend he says. After decades of throwing money at different initiatives; governments, leaders and management have realized the necessity and value of monitoring the success of these initiatives.

This shift led to the birth of the monitoring and evaluation system. During this time leaders attempted to develop a system that could track budget spend and organisational activities. The system, which started out as a simple monitoring plan has become an intrinsic part of any functional establishment.

According to Langefeld an effective monitoring system starts with a clear idea of the objectives. It should also include “indicators of success” based on specific targets. Langefeld uses the example of the South Africa police and the recent scandals in the media which questioned the quality and delivery of service. “SAPS claim that they employ more police officers, and that’s good, but how do we know these officers are doing their work?”

Chris points out that without the support of accurate data, sweeping claims such as these become meaningless and redundant. ‘In this instance indicators of success would include the latest statistics on the crime rate or the level of women and child abuse.’ These answers will provide concrete evidence as to whether or not the SAPS service has in fact improved, and clearly demonstrates the purpose of an effective monitoring plan.

According to Langefeld the elements of a successful monitoring and evaluation system comprises and begins with strategic goal-setting. ‘These objectives should be aligned to programmes, which should then be broken down into verifiable activities. These activities are further divided into measurable inputs and outputs which assess the impact on external parties and communities.’

Once a plan or system has been developed it should be implemented by a monitoring and evaluation team chosen from within the organisation. This select group will take on the role of ‘project drivers’ and should be supported by middle and senior management.

‘Lack of support during the implementation phase is one of the major causes of project failure’, warns Langefeld. He emphasises the importance of collaboration within team units and support from the entire organisation.

Transparency and accountability can also become barriers to success. Essentially a monitoring system is implemented to record an organisations performance. ‘This means that accurate records of individual performance must be obtained and this is where problems can occur.’ Employees are sometimes hesitant to speak openly for fear of criticism or punishment. Managers or project drivers need to be aware of this danger when introducing a new system.

‘An effective technical system is another crucial part of the project.’ Large quantities of information must be recorded and translated and a reliable storage structure will greatly facilitate the process.

Implementing an effective monitoring and evaluation system requires a combination of elements and skills including ‘IT and business skills, financial and strategic planning, and the ability to accurately interpret statistics and information.’

Most projects will be structured to run for approximately 3 to 5 years. ‘The success of this plan is measured by the ability to perform reliable checks, see results based on set objectives and efficiently implementing remedial action.’

Chris Langefeld has practiced in the field of project management for 15 years in both the private and government sectors. Drawing from his extensive experience Langefeld currently presents the Advanced Monitoring and Evaluation course alongside senior course presenter Dr Belinda Ketel at the Imsimbi Training institute.

The course is accredited by the Services Seta and is designed to help leaders understand monitoring and evaluation within the South African legislative context.

The course will run on 25 – 29 July, 19 to 23 September in Johannesburg and 26-30 September in Cape Town. For more information call 011 678 2443 / 678 0358 / 678 5688 or email