Monitoring is an ongoing process which informs your decisions and helps you decide whether your organisation is heading in the right direction.
Monitoring involves collecting and recording information about what your organisation is doing.
It is useful to start any organisation or project with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you will check that you are making progress. Outputs are specific activities or events you undertake eg number of training sessions, coaching activities, netball matches. They can be confused with outcomes which are changes and effects which happen as a result of your activities e.g. increase in confidence, employability.
Being clear about outputs is really important. You should try and make all your outputs SMART.
SMART outputs should be:
An example of a SMART output is a six day long information sessions on employment opportunities for 80 young people from Reading over an 8 week period
Your organisation will be required to collect data on its outputs. It is important to keep monitoring arrangements proportional and relevant to the size of your organisation as data collection can be a resource intensive activity.
Information can be gathered in two ways.
- Quantitative - recording information in numerical units. I.e. the number of units of production, clients seen, and activities organised etc.
- Qualitative - recording observational information relating to impressions and perceived changes in behaviours
When devising recording systems for your organisation try and only collect data that you will use and ensure that it is easy to record. It is all well and good to ask 200 young people what activities they would like, but you are likely to get 200 different answers.
Make questionnaires quite specific with limited responses. If you are collecting qualitative data recording information is more difficult and you may need to categorise answers. Try and make sure that you can easily enter responses into a database so that the data can be searched easily. There are several systems on the market, when choosing a system to support your data collection make sure you are clear that the system meets your needs before buying.