Types of Monitoring Reports

There are at least four kinds of reports that an effective monitoring system produces:

  1. Project Progress Reports
  2. Field Trip Reports
  3. Meeting Reports

Project Progress Report

A project progress report is a record and communication of the results of project activities: the degree to which objectives are or have been reached; reasons why: assessment of factors; and recommendations. A progress report is a necessary part of a project. It is usually a narrative report and can include information about events and inputs (what actions were undertaken) but should emphasize outputs (the results of those actions in so much as they lead to achieving the stated objectives). Attention should be paid to the number and location of beneficiaries. The project progress report would best be organized into sections corresponding to the sections of the proposal.

Apart from the narrative reporting, there is also the financial reporting. A detailed financial report should include what funds were received, what funds were expended, listed line by line according to the budget categories in the proposal, reasons for over- or under- spending, and an assessment of how well the expenditures contributed to reaching the stated objectives of the project.

At times financial reporting also becomes part of monthly progress reports.

Project Progress Reports could be:

  1. Monthly,
  2. Bimonthly,
  3. Quarterly,
  4. Bi-annual or
  5. Annual

A progress report is different from a situation report in that a situation report merely states what has happened and what was done about it during the reporting period. A progress report, in contrast, relates activities to objectives. The most important source of information about any project can be the routine monthly progress reports, if they are done the right way. The donors, the headquarters of the implementing agencies, the leaders in the target group, and the agencies monitoring the project and administering the donors' funds, all need to know how well and how much the project activities have led to attaining the project objectives. A detailed monthly narrative report should include how far each of the intended objectives have been reached, what were the reasons they were not fully reached, any lessons learned, and suggestions and reasons about changing the objectives if they were found to need changing.

Field Trip Reports

Each field visit should result in a short to-the-point report. A field trip should have a purpose, so report on the trip should begin with indicating what was the purpose of the trip. The purpose should justify making the trip. The purpose should directly relate to at least one of the objectives of the project, as listed in the project document. Technical details, of course, can be listed in any orderly fashion, dates and locations of the travel, persons met (with their titles, agencies' names, times of meeting, venue, and so on), sites seen, meetings attended. It is important to make the list easy to read, easy to understand, and brief but complete. A field trip report should emphasize the results of that trip.

  • Did you achieve your purpose? To what extent? Why?
  • What unexpected observations did you make?
  • What consequences do those observations have?
  • Have you observed indicators of any results of previous projected activities?
  • Should any project objectives be modified from what you observed?
  • Did you identify any new problems?
  • Did you come to any new conclusions, alone or in discussion with some of the persons you met or meetings you attended?

A good trip report elaborates on the extent to which the writer achieved the purpose of his/her trip. Also, there might have been unforeseen circumstances in the field which should be brought in black and white. There can be a separate section for it namely "Challenges" OR "Lessons Learned". These should be communicated to the concerned authorities to avoid their repitition in the future. The Field Monitoring report should make comparisons between the most recent findings and those of earlier visits, requiring a certain degree of consistency between the different reports.

Meeting Reports:

Also known as the minutes of the meeting, this kind of report captures the essence of discussions and decisions taken in meetings. All meetings, of course, should have a purpose, and the purpose must be related to achieving the objectives of the project. Reports on those meetings, therefore, should concentrate on the purpose and indicate the result of the meeting in terms of progress towards meeting those objectives.