Recently Clear Horizon ran a Masterclass entitled “Organisational outcomes and meaningful measures”. This Masterclass arose from of our own organisational strategic planning sessions where it became apparent we need to consolidate our knowledge in this space. We are increasingly requested to provide monitoring and evaluation (M&E) support at an organisational level, rather than at the project or program level. This has presented both opportunities and challenges, as organisational M&E has different requirements than that of investments at the program and project levels.

For instance, a research and development organisation might deliver a range of services to its clients. These outward facing services are usually enabled by, and rely upon, a range of internal corporate functions and processes such as finance and communications. So, like all M&E, being clear about what is in and out of scope early on is important.

The Masterclass was well attended by people from a range of sectors and fields including environment, health, law and justice, and across both government and not-for-profit organisations. We also had a good split between those involved in planning and strategising, designing, delivering and evaluating. In the workshop some common themes emerged across all sectors, summarised as follows:

·         It’s often political. It is necessary to negotiate multiple demands and requirements from across the political spectrum in organisational M&E. It’s not uncommon for those designing an organisational M&E system to have to take into account multiple competing and sometimes contradictory demands.

·         Need to tailor. Meeting the needs of users requires engagement; engagement makes organisational M&E relevant.

·         It’s complicated and sometimes complex. Organisational M&E isn’t easy, especially when organisations are diverse. Even small organisations can have diverse viewpoints or needs. When the context is taken into account (as described above in relation to politics) things can get complex.

·         ‘Muddling through’. Good organisational M&E is often characterised by compromise. So in practice this means that planners and evaluators focus on meeting minimum requirements to ‘satisfice’. This is of course not to overlook the myriad ways in which managers, administrators and evaluators adapt and respond to realise opportunities for improvement as they arise.

·         Being outcomes focused is critical, even when organisations are heavily process-oriented. Going back to your theory of change and being outcomes focused is necessary for good organisational M&E and strategy.

 

What do you consider good organisational M&E?  Do these challenges and themes look familiar from where you sit?

 

Our next Masterclass will be on ‘Developmental Evaluation’ and held in Melbourne on 24 November 2017. Click here to see our training calendar for further information and/or to register your interest.