The monitoring of programs is a form of evaluation that is performed during program implementation, with the aim of improving the project design and functioning while it is taking place. Bamberger (1986) defines program monitoring as “an internal project activity designed to provide constant feedback on the progress of a project, the problems it is facing, and the efficiency with which it is being implemented.” Program monitoring can include an ongoing review of program activities to determine whether they are developing according to plan or whether any adjustments may be needed so that the intended goals are achieved.
Electronic Program Monitoring Systems
In order to capture and store information related to the monitoring of programs, comprehensive data management systems are recommended. Some of these systems store both paper and electronic artifacts locally within program offices. Other systems are completely electronic and are cloud-based which allow users to access important program information from a variety of locations. Regardless of the method of capture and storage, comprehensive data systems can be an effective way to manage program monitoring information.
Sul & Associates Presents the Project Portfolio
The Project Portfolio is an online monitoring system that can provide critical information to program stakeholders. The Project Portfolio:
- Provides current feedback on the degree to which programs are achieving their goals
- Identifies potential program issues and guide possible solutions
- Shares program information with key program stakeholders
- Monitors the efficiency with which the different components of the project are being implemented and suggest improvements
- Incorporates the views of stakeholders
Program evaluation can be viewed as the comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness and efficacy of the program. Evaluation efforts are defined through the strategic planning efforts of the program stakeholders and are guided by the question: What are we trying to accomplish? A comprehensive program evaluation can address the key issues of program sustainability, coordination, consistency, and the effectiveness of monitoring and reporting systems. An effective program evaluation also can inform the design of future programming efforts. More formal evaluation studies can examine the degree to which programming efforts produced the expected outcomes of the program. Some evaluation studies seek to understand the distribution of program benefits among and between groups of stakeholders.
The process evaluation revolves around the concept of fidelity to the program model. Implementation rubrics are defined and used to monitor the implementation of the program model.
The outcomes evaluation focuses exclusively on determining the degree to which project outcomes have been met. Critical to the outcomes evaluation is the program logic model that establishes the program goals and objectives and defines the performance measures and targets for the program.
The object of the impact evaluation is to determine the difference the program has made by comparing the observed outcomes on a specified roster of outcome variables with an estimate of what did or could have happened in the absence of the program.