The Project Management Institute defines a project as "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service." Projects undergo specific stages, including planning, implementation, execution and control. It is also important to implement monitoring and evaluation stages, which ensure that projects stay on schedule and within budget. These techniques also determine whether projects achieve their objectives.
Overview of Project Monitoring and Evaluation
Project monitoring and evaluation techniques use supervision, evaluation, appraisal and feedback to ensure that a project progresses toward its objectives and goals. As an ongoing process, monitoring determines how effectively project inputs convert into outputs. Evaluation, on the other hand, measures progress towards goals and objectives. Evaluation involves a periodic assessment of performance, progress, efficiency, impact and relevance with respect to project requirements.
Monitoring and Evaluation Techniques
Project monitoring methods include project records, formal surveys, interviews, direct observation, focus group discussions and mapping. The project evaluation and review technique, or PERT, organizes, schedules and coordinates all events in a network chart. Project managers can analyze the chart and compare deliverables. The critical path method, or CPM, also uses a network diagram. This uses nodes representing individual activities and connecting arrows representing relationships. CPM clarifies the critical path of a project, or the most efficient path between initiation and termination.
Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation
Effective project monitoring and evaluation help develop new targets, programs and strategies. These techniques also enable programs to stay on track, and improve project efficiency and accountability.
Limitations of Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation methods can prove costly and time-consuming to design and implement. They require trained staff to ensure success. The benefits and importance of such techniques, however, typically far outweigh these limitations.