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What's Next for Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation remains an unsolved problem for most organizations: All too often, managers and decision-makers at all levels simply don't have the information they need to manage effectively, let alone the data they need to be as flexible, transparent, and accountable as they would like. What do we want this field to look like in the next few years?

Is anyone using M&E data to make decisions?

What brings development practitioners to DevResults is often a need to do a better job of M&E, and we're glad that the software is being used to make the reporting process easier. We'd also like to see our customers

What inspires us is the hope that people will use the data not just for reporting but for managing

It's been our experience, though, that indicator data is used almost exclusively for reporting outside the organization, not for managing within the organization

And when the data is reported to a donor or whatever, is it used for decision-making there? Not likely.

Dustin Homer, from Development Gateway, participated in the event as well. , of Development Gateway, participated in the A study conducted by Development Gateway and the University of Washington spoke with --- development practitioners in --- countries over --- months about how they use indicator data, and only found --- cases where this information was used for management purposes, as opposed to donor reporting.

At the ICT4D conference in Nairobi last month, I helped organize a panel titled "The End of Monitoring and Evaluation: Managing Aid Projects With Better Information". I deliberately chose a provocative title to attract attention, and it worked — both sessions were standing-room only, with an overflow crowd participating through the windows of the room.

In retrospect, the title may have been a little too provocative, though — a few of the participants arrived already offended, and ready for a fight. Over half the people in the room had "M&E" somewhere in their job title or degree; and some took the title to mean that M&E was obsolete.

To the contrary: What we call M&E today will always be critical to the success of any project, whether in international development or in any other field. All the more reason to think hard about what we want this practice to look like in the future.