Supporting the use of M&E evidence
Supporting the use of M&E in a national M&E system means actively facilitating and encouraging the application of monitoring and evaluation findings to inform policy decisions, improve programs, and guide strategic planning.
This is crucial because it ensures that the insights gained from M&E activities translate into tangible actions and reforms. Supporting the use of M&E can manifest in various forms, such as providing clear guidelines for interpreting and implementing findings, creating incentives for evidence-based decision-making, and establishing systems that integrate M&E results into the regular workflow of government agencies.
Types of use of M&E
The following types of use relate to the use of reporting and evidence from monitoring systems, individual evaluations or syntheses of multiple evaluations:
- Instrumental to inform a specific decision. This can be summative (e.g. to stop/continue/expand funding) or formative (e.g. to make changes for improvement, such as correcting errors and filling gaps)
- Conceptual to change the way people think about something – e.g. to understand the importance of key concepts such as continuity of care, or tipping points
- Demonstrating value – to make evident the value of investing in this area
- Persuasive – to argue for a particular policy objective or practice.
The following types of use relate to the use or influence of M&E processes themselves:
- Encouraging compliance with expectations – rather than correcting errors, this is about the impact of clear signalling of requirements and incentives to achieve standards – this is particularly relevant for monitoring systems
- Developing a culture of evaluation - especially norms about identifying and checking assumptions, seeking to hear the voice of communities, and drawing on evidence to inform decisions (see culture of evidence use and production)
- Demonstrating accountability - signalling that inclusive engagement processes, competent management and transparent decision-making are in place
- Capacity strengthening - especially developing skills in creating, conducting, managing and/or using evidence
Factors influencing use of M&E information
The use of M&E can be thought of in terms of factors that relate to producing M&E (supply) and those that relate to using M&E (demand).
On the supply side, M&E is more likely to be used or have influence when it is relevant, credible, accessible, and owned.
On the demand side, M&E is more likely to be used when the intended users have the capacity, motivation, and opportunity to use it.
Strategies to address SUPPLY side factors
Ensuring M&E activities address issues which are important for decisions and/or action.
Evidence maps to identify gaps in knowledge
Adaptive or real-time evaluation to conduct evaluation with clear goals of improving roll-outs
Ensuring M&E activities provide answers which are seen as valid to questions (descriptive, causal, evaluative and/or action).
Ensuring M&E outputs are shared in a format and timeframe which can be readily accessed and understood.
M&E activities are conducted through a process which has the support of primary intended users.
Strategies to address DEMAND side factors
Capacity to use M&E information
The skills and knowledge of users to be able to find evidence and adapt findings to their situation.
Collaboration and structured communication with evaluators and researchers
Regular communication and collaboration between decision-makers and those conducting M&E activities can be beneficial, for example, by providing an opportunity for questions and deeper understanding of the data, and creating a feedback loop where decision-makers can request specific data analyses or further information, leading to more targeted and useful M&E outputs.
Incentives to apply evidence to decision-making.
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