Guide; guidance; guidelines for M&E

Guides, guidance, and guidelines for M&E can include a range of documented procedures and instructions created to help those involved in the M&E process. 

These documents can provide the structure, clarity, and support needed to ensure that M&E activities are effective, efficient, and aligned with a country or organisation's objectives.

These documents serve various purposes and audiences. Some features of these documents include:

  • Audience: They can be tailored to the needs of M&E managers, program managers, or evaluators, providing role-specific information and instructions.

  • Prescriptive vs. adaptive: Some of these documents are strict "guidelines" that outline mandatory procedures that must be followed to ensure consistency and compliance across the national M&E system. Others offer "guidance" that can be more flexible, allowing users to adapt the information to fit the unique circumstances of different programs or contexts.

  • Source of development: These guides can be developed by a variety of sources, including central government agencies responsible for overarching national M&E activities, individual line departments with sector-specific M&E needs, or external organisations that bring in international best practices or specialised expertise.

  • Policy connection: They often link to the broader policy environment that supports M&E activities, ensuring that M&E practices are aligned with national priorities, legal frameworks, and strategic goals.

  • Content focus: The content of these documents may vary, with some focusing solely on monitoring, others on evaluation, and many on both aspects of M&E. This reflects the different stages and focuses within the M&E process, from ongoing monitoring of activities and outputs to the more episodic evaluation of outcomes and impacts.

  • Management vs. practice focus: Some guides concentrate on the management aspects of M&E, such as planning, budgeting, and organising M&E activities. Others delve into the practical side, offering detailed methodologies, tools, and techniques for carrying out the actual monitoring and evaluation work.


The following examples provide advice for M&E practice and also illustrate different choices in terms of who should provide guidance, how it should be structured and how prescriptive it should be. These materials have been developed for government organisations to support M&E

Making sense of evaluation: A handbook for everyone (Social Policy Research and Evaluation Unit, New Zealand)

This guidance offers suggestions on evaluation for managers from a central government unit (New Zealand's Social Policy Research and Evaluation Unit).

A plain language guide for funders/purchasers and providers of social services who need to understand more about how to measure and understand the effects of their programmes or initiatives. The handbook has been developed to provide people new to evaluation with an overview of evaluation concepts and processes so that they are sufficiently equipped to work in this space (often, but not always, with a professional evaluator).  It includes guidance on selecting and working with a professional evaluator. Winner of a Plain English Award.

Source: Superu, 2017

Guidance note – best practice monitoring, evaluation and review (Treasury, New Zealand)

This guidance note from New Zealand's Treasury provides prescriptive guidance on monitoring, evaluation and review for government officials from a central government unit (Treasury) with a particular focus on regulatory activity.The guidance defines and covers monitoring, evaluation and review.

Source: New Zealand Treasury, 2019

Tips for developing good evaluation questions (USAID, 2016)

This example from USAID is of guidance that offers suggestions on evaluation management for managers from the evaluation unit of a line agency (USAID).

This document is intended as a resource for program managers who are developing a Terms of Reference for an evaluation and relates to managing individual evaluations rather than to M&E Systems.

Source: USAID, 2016


Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning. (2015, July). Tips for Developing Good Evaluation Questions (for Performance Evaluations). Retrieved from

New Zealand Treasury. (2019, December). Guidance Note: Best Practice Monitoring, Evaluation and Review. Retrieved from

Superu (2017)  Making Sense of Evaluation – a handbook for the social sector. Retrieved from:

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