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E13 - Proposal Development: 5 Things You Must Consider Before Development a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan

by Godfrey Senkaba
October 11th 2021

Godfrey Senkaba discusses the 5 most important issues a monitoring and evaluation specialist must consider before they develop the different monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) sections, and... More

this is the monitoring and evaluation boost. With God freezing kaaba. Every week we share tips and practical stories to help you master the monitoring and evaluation job and perform it to your best. If you haven't yet, please take a moment to hit that subscribe button so you're automatically updated about new episodes. And that way you can continue to grow your money career every day. It also helps to show your support to this podcast and improve its ranking on the platform. We really appreciate that effort. Now let's get started. Hi I'm good facing cover your host monitoring and evaluation boost. This is episode 13 titled project proposal. Five things you must consider before developing a monitoring and evaluation plan. I often get the following questions from grants proposal managers. Hey Godfrey In the meantime the proposal team completes the technical description of the proposal. Can you start writing the monitoring evaluation and learning section. You can use the donor requests for funding application to guide your draw. Another would say, Hey Godfrey the donor reviewed our proposal but said that the monitoring evaluation and learning sections are disconnected from the project description.

Help us address this issue before we re submit. One time I overheard colleagues share the experience about working with monitoring and evaluation specialists and a grant proposal design activity. Once said, I don't understand why monitoring and evaluation specialists ask questions on project theory of change proposed activities target groups, duration and implementation approach. They should be concerned with identifying indicators and tools which will be used by the project. Do this example. Sound familiar and one of you recently sent me a text as feedback on in an earlier podcast asking if there was a checklist of issues to guide a monitoring and evaluation specialist when they are developing proposal monitoring and evaluation sections. Well there are several issues you must consider. In this episode I discuss the most important ones to guide you devote a stronger monitoring and evaluation section and related a nexus for your proposal. Before I go into details, let me remind you of the five major phases of a typical proposal development. The five phases are one proposition into positioning. Three proposal designed for submission and lastly five post submission in episode 11, I address the pre proposal or prepositioning face by highlighting seven best ways a monitoring and evaluation specialist can proposition a grand project proposal in episode 12 I focused on positioning of the request for funding application phase.

Most specifically I highlighted 12 ways to review Donner grant solicitation documents through a monitoring and evaluation. Less this episode 13 focuses on the project proposal Design phase. The proposal design phase is probably the most consequential phase in the project proposal development process. All the efforts you put into pre positioning and positioning will come to fruition in this phase as a monitoring and evaluation specialists. Your goal at this proposal design phase is threefold that the final project proposal reflects the monitoring evaluation and learning requirements of the donor usually outlined in the request for funding application number two. that the final proposal has the required monitoring evaluation and learning descriptions and the products often in the form of the narrative appendices or a nexus as applicable. Unless the three that the final proposal show consistency in monitoring, evaluation and learning across all the proposal elements for example the technical approach or narrative informed the monitoring and evaluation plan.

Whether you are participating in the proposal design face as a member of the design team or asked to provide quality review of the draft proposal here are the five key issues to consider. Number one understand your role and responsibility number to understand the technical design. Number three, ensure you have a full grasp of the stakeholders and partnerships. Number four understand the donor monitoring evaluation and learning requirements for this proposal as per the request for funding application and Leslie. Five discussed the budget No the budget allocated for monitoring and evaluation. Before you embark on proposing a plan, let's go through the details yeah one your role and responsibility to the extent possible. Be clear on what your role and responsibility or tasks are in the development of the project proposal. If you participated in the proposal propositioning face confirmed the specific expectations and tasks with the proposal Manager. If you never participated be sure to discuss the detailed roles and expectations including deliverables and due dates.

The following issues should be clarified with the proposal manager, avoid role confusion, uncertainties and risks. One the process for developing the different elements of the project proposal and sequencing of activities which informed the monitoring and evaluation plan for example when is a theory of change going to be developed? How is it going to be designed? Who is going to provide input in design of the intervention for example here of changing development design of the project intervention activities, development of the log frame right up of the technical narrative and when with the write up of the monitoring and evaluation section be expected ensure that there is a good sequence of these activities. The log from should not be developed fast and then the theory of change second should be the other way round your respective be clear on what activities are planned, which ones you need to participate in which ones need to be completed before your own tasks can be completed. Please do recommend a reasonable sequence of the design activities. You may want to start the indicators when the results from what has been drafted. Second confirmed with the proposal manager. The preferred format for supporting the proposal designed the artillery support formats for any M and a specialist engaging in a proposal designed these include technical leadership in developing the sections for M and E in a proposal.

You literally write the sections. The alternative is that somebody else is going to write those sections and your responsibility will be to provide quality review and feedback. The third support format might be the proposal design team is strong. Probably they have an M. And a specialist but you senior monitoring and evaluation specialist has been asked to provide guidance. You review the R. F. Your review all the templates that need to be used and provide them guidance on how to develop the monitoring and evaluation sections. This is part of your role. We shouldn't be confused. Be clear with the proposal manager how they expect you to support. Lastly, your role becomes easier if you know who else will be involved in the proposal design phase the roles they play how their efforts complement or compete with your own roles. Quite often you may be asked to oversee the work of the monitoring and evaluation consultant hired by the proposal team. If your organization is bidding as a sub implementer, you will be working alongside or in complement with the prime implement as monitoring and evaluation team. Finally your role and responsibilities during the proposal stage are not static.

Some roles may evolve. The roles may be adjusted to address specific needs always have regular check ins with the proposal manager or team to ensure you are up to there. Yeah. To technical design, gaining a full understanding of the project is technical design will help you propose a well informed monitoring and evaluation approach. The technical design describes the problems to be addressed by the project. The expected results. The win for whom and why and what evidence if any to support the proposed interventions before you begin proposing the monitoring and evaluation and learning plan for the proposed project, understand the following five issues about the technical design number one logic model including theory of change, seek to understand what issues the project will address and how expected results will come about, understand the different pathways of change and which of this is prioritized by the project and which ones will not and why? If there are other organizations already implementing specific activities that contribute to alternative pathways, be sure you have a full understanding and rationale for the project not to do any activities in those pathways of change.

If there's other organizations that are implementing activities contributing to your project outcomes or to a different pathway of change that has been listed in the theory of change for the project, ensure you have a good grasp of this and discuss with the proposal manager how it will be important to monitor the activities and the outcomes that contributed on by other agencies. In addition, find out the evidence that supports the pathway of change that has been selected by the project. Is there any evidence that attests that if their project implements these activities X result will be achieved. This is important, especially when you're developing your learning plan. If the evidence is not strong enough that could be an opportunity to use this project to feel that divide. If there are other evidences that really are not strong enough, it's an opportunity for this project to test that put them to test many times there could be evidence. But in another context, you may use this project to collect data that can help you understand the effectiveness of that intervention in this particular context have good people. Some of our learning questions or research questions come from this particular aspect.

When you understand the technical design and understand the evidence that supports it or no evidence at all, it's a learning opportunity. That's when we'll use this project to collect more evidence to justify certain interventions. Secondly, understand what models are interventions are proposed to achieve the desired results. Be sure to understand the key activities and who is targeted. This will help inform routine monitoring. So understand who is targeted by these activities. What is the dosage, what's the duration of the activities and what is the expected period to observe the results? Because this is important in several ways. Most importantly, it will inform your choices on monitoring efficacy, monitoring outcomes and in part addressing issues of attribution and contribution. Lastly on technical design. Find out if the intervention proposed a standard or if it's a model does it have standardized indicators usually stand that the indicators have standardized descriptions which will help you with indicator choices. So once you understand the technical design, you understand that the interventions, you understand the evidence that supports it. You understand who is targeted, how much of targeting is being done and what's the duration.

All this will inform your choices for the methods, you will develop the humanity. Number three stakeholders and partnerships. Any person who has an interest in the project or some of its activities or how the project is implemented or is result is a stakeholder. Partner likely has a tangible role in the implementation of the project. Such role may be formal or informal. A donor has a kiss take in the project because they find all or some of the activities. The community has a stake in the project and will support its objectives. The community based organization may sign a formal partnership agreement with the prime implementing agency to carry out specific project activities. There's understanding of project stakeholders and partners help in the monitoring and evaluation design of course the purpose of the monitoring and evaluation system and the use of the data collected through the system among others should accommodate the needs of stakeholders and partners. In addition, understanding the project. Partners and their roles in the project will help you leverage their capacity for monitoring, evaluation and learning.

For example, if you're implementing a maternal child health project, let's say Northern Zambia, you may want to integrate your proposed monitoring evaluation system with the District Health Information system. Whether you are interested in the entirety of the partners monitoring and evaluation system or specific components like staff such as health workers data collection tools that are quiet assurance practices among others. The benefits of integration should outweigh the risks number four donor requirements. Donor monitoring and evaluation requirements may vary by type of project and duration. The donors may require specific monitoring and evaluation activities be implemented as part of the project. For example, you said Bureau for humanitarian affairs requires all projects of six months or longer in duration to conduct best line and an incline study. If the length of the world is 18 months or longer partners are required to conduct an evaluation in this context, best line and evaluation is required but hold on.

Whereas it may be impossible for you not to include best line and evaluation even when circumstances called so do not fall into the trap of simply including every donor monitoring and evaluation inquired activities without considering whether they are a good fit for the proposed technical approach and intervention. This is why it is important to have a full understanding of the technical design before completing the monitoring and evaluation plan. Another set of requirements for you to understand about donors is whether they have a specific proposal template they would like you to use and if so if they're specific and access for monitoring and evaluation. From my experience. Some of the proposals will require you to describe the monitoring and evaluation section as part of the technical narrative but still in the UN access require you to develop what recall an abridged monitoring and evaluation plan. It's about 3 to 5 pages basically whatever you put in a monitoring and evaluation plan like what's your plan for monitoring? What's your plan for evaluation? What's planned for learning just brief 3 to 5 pages.

Then you might also be asked to put your lock from on the indicator metrics and the budget. If the donor doesn't have all these specific templates for you to use you may need to create your own you may need to use your organization is the most important point is don't deviate from what is required. You're developing your own template doesn't mean it doesn't have to align with what the donor is requesting here many times. When donors are reviewing the proposals they will retreat back to how the R. F. Was written and what was required in the R. F. And there are several reasons why they provide specific requirements in the R. F. For monitoring and evaluation alongside others. Another area to pay attention to about the donor requirements is their specification for key monitoring, evaluation and learning positions. Some donors will specify that among the key positions that they should be paid for by this Grant is a senior monitoring and evaluation specialists in other Air F. S. It could be both learning specialist and the senior monitoring and evaluation specialists.

Others might combine the position said Deputy chief of party stroke monitoring and evaluation. It all depends on the nature of the program. Now the beauty of this is that when you're developing a mandy structure, you know who the key positions are. Other donors may have no preference. Another area of key requirements to consider other indicators. Some donors will specify a wide range of indicators. If you are programming with you said they might list for you. Standard state indicators that you need to consider for your program. If it is VH Airbnb already has their own standardized indicators which you need to consider. Some indicators are required as long as bidding for that grant and some are required when applicable. Some donors might suggest beyond the standardized indicators that we prefer. You may also want to include indicators for the local country. Direct ministry, like if it's in the area of health might expect you to measure some indicators for the Ministry of Health for that particular sector like nutrition. Be aware of these indicators. Some are standardized, others are not and preferred.

But for indicators that are standardized. Look at the indicator descriptions, indicated descriptions come with a lot of details on what the indicator means, what it measures who is targeted method of data collection, frequency of data collection. Now, when you review every single indicator, let's say you have about 20 indicators and you're reviewing all the methods that are recommended. Who is targeted. This is already giving you direction for your monitoring and evaluation plan. If every single outcome indicator, they're suggesting an annual survey, you already know that you need to plan for an annual survey for you to measure or collect that our own X number of indicators. Others maybe suggesting an evaluation an end line. You already know. Others will talk about routine monitoring indicators. May need you to do a participant based sample. You need to ask yourself if it is participant based sample. That means I need to already registered participants. I need to know them. That already gives you direction on how to shape your monitoring and evaluation plan and be careful some R. F. S. State which indicators must be measured in the project.

Others don't Besides some Aref is provide a list of illustrative indicators Unless the tariff is specific on the requirement for measurement. I normally take illustrative indicators as examples to consider. So some donors are just kind they will give you a list whole list of indicators and they are naming them illustrative and many of these indicators are good but some may not be applicable. So be aware. The fifth thing they need to understand before you embark on the monitoring and evaluation section for the proposal is the budget, confirm the budget allocated for monitoring evaluation and learning for some grant proposals. The donor will be prescriptive about the investment in monitoring evaluation and learning going to the extent of specifying a 3 to 5% of the total budget to be committed to monitoring evaluation and learning agree with the proposal team how these percentages calculated and the actual dollar amount. In addition, consultation with the finance steve may be important as some activities may need to be budgeted for under the project intervention section for example should the cost of routine monitoring including training field officers and community volunteers on activity implementation forms be budgeted for under the specific project activities or under the monitoring and evaluation budget.

Of course you save are normally encourage the programmers that routine monitoring should be under their budget. That saves me money to focus on other issues that are important for em and also find out whether the 3 to 5% covers monitoring evaluation activities only all the budget covers all the monitoring evaluation. Learning activities plus monitoring evaluation and learning staff surrealists and fringe benefits. Will it include donor required and externally laid activities like final evaluation. Some donors will specify that you budget for 200,000 U. S. Dollars as an example for an external consultant. So is the 3 to 5% including that. These are discussions. You need to have the proposal manager to know how to calculate the 3 to 5%. And a finance person is normally very good in this conversation for them to know what are you really budgeting for and how are you going to calculate the entire cost? Budgeting is often a challenging activity for monitoring and evaluation specialists. I must admit. However, I encourage you to be actively involved less you risk missing key activities, equipment and support to implement a monitoring and evaluation plan More effectively.

It is important to be as detailed in your budget as possible. For instance you plan for project monitoring may include conducting a monitoring and evaluation plan workshop within the 1st 90 days in fulfillment of the donor requirements. If the M and E. Plan development will be held in form of in person workshop plan for conference room and venue training materials for participants, meals, accommodation for participants if applicable and transportation to and from the venue for each of these items, specify the unit cost to to amount and the percentage of the costs that will be covered by the prime implementer and all parties as applicable. If the organization has an established office in the country where the proposed project will be implemented. Do consult with the fuel team, do consult with them, especially on the local costs for the different activities, equipment and supplies. Your finance team may review the budget and take summaries to the final project budget. Finally, a typical monitoring evaluation and learning budget should be a mirror reflection of all that is required to effectively implement your proposed monitoring and evaluation plan.

I advise you to complete the budget after developing the monitoring and evaluation plan for the proposal and therefore it's important that you first draft the monitoring and evaluation and or learning plan for you to be more effective in accommodating and accounting for all the costs. In conclusion, there are five key issues you must consider during proposal development before you start or completely. The monitoring and evaluation and or learning sections and an access. The five include your role and responsibilities and tasks to technical design. Three partners and stakeholders for donor requirements. And lastly five the monitoring, evaluation and or learning budget addressing these issues early in the proposal phase and subsequent revisions will help you prepare a more focused feasible and quality proposal. Please remember any of these five issues and the sub issues that have discussed may change depending on whether you are part of the proposal design team or not. Depending on whether you are part of the proposal design team. You are directly responsible for writing the monitoring, evaluation and learning sections.

You are the lead facilitator for the entire proposal design. You are an internal monitoring and evaluation stuff but external to the team developing the proposal meaning your only role is to provide quality review all the donor has specific templates for monitoring, evaluation and learning. In this case you may not be engaged in a lot of thinking and a lot of discussion. You simply need to follow the templates and the guidelines that have been provided to you clarifying the expectations for the proposal team, knowing what to look for in the proposal design and collecting all the information you need before you embark on designing the monitoring and evaluation plan and related and access for the proposal should result into a technically sound and high quality monitoring, evaluation and learning design and, yes, a technically sound and high quality monitoring and evaluation design is the ultimate goal of every monitoring. Evaluation and learning specialists engaged in proposal development. Alright folks, go enjoy the proposal design phase and help your teams win many more projects with your donors.

Talk to you next time. Thank you. And bye. Thank you for listening to the monitoring and evaluation boost. With Godfrey Send Kaba. Please let us know your comments or any topics you would like to hear and please check out our website www dot M and E boost dot com. If you have comments about this episode or experiences you would like to share regarding the ideas discussed in this podcast. Please let us know again. Please visit our website to share. That's W W W dot M and E boost dot com. Thank you. Yeah.

E13 - Proposal Development: 5 Things You Must Consider Before Development a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan
E13 - Proposal Development: 5 Things You Must Consider Before Development a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan
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