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Monitoring, control, and evaluation of the implementation of infrastructure projects

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Monitoring and Controlling Project Execution requires tracking the actual project execution with the planned project management activities. Project monitoring and control processes are particularly essential functions of project management that take place at the project implementation stage. 

Project Monitoring, control, and evaluation in infrastructure projects

Project monitoring and control processes are particularly important functions of project management that take place at the project implementation stage. The developed monitoring and control procedures identify the current deviations between the actual development and the project plan, identify the causes of deviations, generate information intended for management bodies to take corrective measures, and prevent possible risks.

The key to effective monitoring and control is the timely measurement of the actual results of project activities through certain instruments, to regularly anticipate the necessary adjustments to the project plan and complete it within the set deadline.

The ex-post evaluation of the project is carried out after its completion. It has various aspects related to the relevance, impact, effectiveness, and efficiency of the project. Performance appraisal identifies the factors that contribute to the success or failure of the project, achievements, and results, identifies good practices, including procedures, techniques, management tools.

Monitoring of project implementation

The nature and objectives of monitoring

Monitoring is defined as the systematic, continuous/periodic and continuous collection, analysis, and use of information for management and decision-making purposes on specific processes or interventions.

Monitoring is a key function of the project implementation stage, during which progress is evaluated to allow for updates in the event of a change in circumstances. It is a management tool and is a follow-up to the development of the activities, an assessment of the implementation of the project concerning the approved schedules.

Monitoring identifies existing issues to facilitate the timely implementation of project implementation and provides ongoing feedback on its implementation. Some authors consider monitoring as a set of methods and forms of ongoing monitoring and correction of project activities during project implementation.

According to the methodological documents of the state committees, monitoring is carried out through agreed reporting procedures, sample checks, and the establishment of special committees. Monitoring is a continuous process that regularly monitors the progress of project implementation and evaluates the progress made concerning resources invested, and activities performed and direct results.

The monitoring is intended for:

  • identify current deviations between actual development and project plan;
  • identify the causes of deviations;
  • inform management bodies of any deviations identified;
  • assist in eliminating deviations;
  • to prevent possible risks in the future states of the observed parameters;
  • provide the basis for effective project implementation.

In the context of what has been said about the nature and objectives of monitoring, it can be summarized that it is an activity consisting of the systematic and continuous collection, reporting and transfer of information on the achieved stage of project implementation and spending, identifying problems, giving recommendations and corrective action.

According to the documents of the state committees, monitoring is described only as a function performed in the project implementation phase, without presenting the deployment of monitoring activities over time, i.e., in the chronological aspect.

To address this weakness, a methodological procedure for working on infrastructure projects is proposed, through which the main elements of monitoring are considered in the context of the integrated project cycle management concept. Through this procedure, the stages of the project activity are synchronized with the monitoring cycle, i.e. it is presented in a temporal (chronological) and meaningful aspect. This approach makes it possible to justify the separation of monitoring activities and their separation from other project management functions.

Main stages of monitoring in the context of the project cycle

The conceptualization of monitoring as an integral part of the project cycle is the result of a more decentralized approach to their management, as well as a clearer definition of responsibilities for monitoring at Community, national and local level.

The documents of the state committees determine the essential contribution of monitoring to increase the effectiveness of structural assistance. The development of monitoring in the Member States is a continuous, gradual process, carried out at different speeds and with different levels of commitment. In the early periods of cohesion policy implementation, monitoring is seen as an imposed restriction rather than as an activity that contributes to improving the effectiveness of projects.

As a result of the experience gained in project management, the approach to monitoring is changing. Now its benefits are not only beyond doubt, but its scope and requirements for its implementation are being expanded to ensure the successful implementation of projects and the more efficient use of the funds provided for them.

With the strengthening of the role and importance of monitoring to improve the effectiveness of public programs and projects and to ensure greater transparency and accountability of public interventions, the requirements for the design and development of its organization, technology, and procedures are increasing.

Monitoring indicators

Project monitoring indicators are physical and financial. They are related to the specific nature of the project, its objectives, and the socio-economic situation in the region.

The monitoring indicators show:

  • specific objectives - quantified (as far as possible);
  • the stage reached - physical performance, results and impact;
  • Implementation of the financial plan.

To monitor the project and evaluate its implementation against the set goals, it is necessary to use a system of indicators that must be defined in advance or at an early stage of project implementation so that they can be collecting data about them.

Baseline indicators

Baseline data provide quantitative information on socio-economic conditions in the territory or sector, including target groups, and show their baseline values. They form the basis for:

  • socio-economic and strategic analyzes based on which the project plan is developed;
  • monitoring the general context;
  • setting quantifiable targets;
  • assessment of the socio-economic impacts of the project.

Baseline data

Baseline data are developed following the hierarchy of project objectives. In some cases, it is useful to collect specific data on the beneficiaries of the project. More specific indicators by sector or size can give a complete description of the beneficiaries and make comparisons with previous interventions or initiatives in other areas. Baseline data allow the setting of quantitative targets and the assessment of the likely effects (results or impacts) of the planned actions.

Baseline data is usually collected from official statistics. However, sometimes these sources can be problematic due to lack of data at the appropriate territorial level, a late publication of data (with a delay of two to three years), lack of official statistics on project requirements, lack of data with sufficient division by sector. In these cases, the sources of information should be evaluated for accessibility, reliability, and compatibility.

Other sources of information for quantifying project goals are estimates from studies and benchmarks that are derived from previous observations and evaluations. However, these data should be used very carefully and cannot replace the monitoring indicators.

It is often not possible to quantify the purpose of a project, as the number of beneficiaries cannot be determined in advance. In these cases, it is advisable to use indirect or qualitative indicators, the values of which can be determined in the process of project implementation.

Software indicators

The program indicators are input indicators, end-product indicators, performance indicators, impact indicators.

The input indicators are linked to the allocated budget at each level of support. Financial indicators are used to monitor the progress of financial performance (negotiating and paying for each eligible expenditure operation).

End product indicators relate to activities (eg, road construction). They are measured in physical or monetary units (for example, the length of roads built in kilometers, the increase in traffic flow in relative share).

Outcome indicators represent the direct and immediate effects generated by the project. They provide information on changes that affect the behavior of direct beneficiaries. These indicators can also be physical (eg, reduction of travel time) or financial (reduction of transport costs).

Impact indicators represent the consequences of the project beyond the immediate effects on its direct beneficiaries. Two concepts of impacts can be defined - specific and general. Specific impacts occur over some time but are directly related to the actions taken. Common impacts are long-term effects affecting a broad population. Measurement of the second type of impact is complex, and it is often difficult to establish clear causal relationships.

Taking into account the importance of the process of selection, definition, structure, and quantification of indicators, the State Commission periodically develops an indicative list of key indicators for monitoring and evaluation. Groups of indicators are identified in terms of products, results, and impacts in the main areas of structural support by category (production environment, human resources, basic infrastructure, etc.).

The purpose of the implementation of key indicators is to provide a more robust summary of comparisons with similar projects and to improve the process of monitoring and evaluation of projects. The implementation of the methodology for selecting key indicators is not necessarily a requirement of the Commission, and the executive agencies retain the ability to use the categorization best suited to their regional or local situation.

Performance indicators

Performance indicators measure intermediate results compared to the original quantitative targets. They are used to measure the degree of project implementation.

Performance indicators address three main issues - efficiency, quality of management, and financial performance. Efficiency compares what was done with what was originally planned, i.e., and it compares the actual with the intended products, results and impacts. Efficiency assesses how well a project is achieving its objectives. Efficiency is the ratio between the product, the result, or the impact and the investment (resource) that is needed to achieve it, i.e., how resources are transformed into products and results.

The practical measurement of these correspondences is relatively straightforward, but there are many difficulties. The concept of efficiency as a trend is oriented only to one aspect of project effects - the expected positive results. However, projects can also produce unexpected positive and negative results that cannot be recorded with pre-established indicators.

Efficacy research

Efficacy research involves the issues of achieving results with fewer resources and getting more results with the same resources. Related to these issues is the problem of comparing the project with its possible alternatives. The most serious difficulty here is choosing the right benchmarks. These benchmarks should preferably be established in advance to allow for appropriate comparisons and to clarify the quantification of targets in the programming phase.

The performance and efficiency indicators can be applied at every stage of the project, i.e., in terms of product, result, or impact. These indicators can provide useful information for project management, monitoring, and evaluation to make or change a project.

Project implementation is, in principle, defined in terms of the concept of resource management and efficiency and the context of administrative change, focused on results, quality service, and customer satisfaction.

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Author: BVOP™ Published on: Saturday Jan 11, 2020
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