A well-designed M&E system should describe in detail the following things:
- Methodology or Processes for collecting and using data
- Purpose/uses of the data collected
- Type of data to be collected (both qualitative and quantitative)
- Frequency of data collection
A good M&E system helps identify promising interventions early so that they can potentially be implemented elsewhere. Having data available about how well a particular project, practice, program, or policy works, it provides useful information for formulating and justifying budget requests. It also allows judicious allocation of scarce resources to the interventions that will provide the greatest benefit.
The key characteristics of an effective M&E system are the following:
- It measures and reports on outputs that reflect the critical stated strategic objectives of the organization;
- It provides clear indicators against which the organization is working, and being measured; and that within the organization, information for the outputs being measured is available and verifiable.
- A good M&E system identifies the key issues and root of the problems that you want to address
- It must be cost-effective for the operating unit
- It must be result oriented
- The M&E system must itself be monitored and updated regularly
- It must track and effectively support the policy reform process
- Provides a user-friendly means of understanding the current status of the relevant policy
- Provides a rationale for how future performance targets are set
- It must be computerized
- It must make the decision making at management level easy and efficient
- It must determine the appropriateness of the institutional mechanism undertaken
- An effective M&E System must have ways to report the findings to those who can take action and use the findings for positive change
- It must identify the responsible persons and the finalize the actions agreed
- An effective and very good M&E system will be the one which reports its findings in a positive way and as constructive criticism.
The standard criteria for assessing the quality of your M&E system are:
- Utility Will the M&E system serve the practical information needs of intended users;
- Feasibility Are the methods, sequences, timing and processing procedures proposed realistic, prudent and cost effective;
- Propriety Will the M&E activities be conducted legally, ethically and with due regard for the welfare of those affected by its results;
- Accuracy Will the M&E outputs reveal and convey technically adequate information.
These criteria can also be used when updating the M&E system.