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Outputs, Outcomes, what’s the difference anyway?

Enriching local knowledge through Monitoring and Evaluation training

The concept of results based monitoring and evaluation is a strong tool within the project design and execution cycle if used well. Monitoring is important from a project management standpoint as a tracking tool for the collection, analysis, comparison and reporting of data on program indicators. Meanwhile, results-based evaluation assesses an intervention to determine its relevance, impact and sustainability.

Building on the Bank’s goals to enhance the knowledge of executing agencies, the Suriname country office hosted a one-week Monitoring and Evaluation course from 13 – 17 January, 2014. The course was facilitated by Dr. Ray Rist of the International Program for Development Evaluation training (IPDET). This course brought participants together from Bank’s client Ministries, Program Executing Agencies and Bank staff.

The basic principles of the course were an emphasis on results-based management (RBM).  Participants gained a comprehensive understanding of the concepts of RBM, the theory of change and the structure for designing and building a monitoring and evaluation system based on results. Besides receiving the literature foundation, the course was designed to be practical in terms of group work in order for the participants to experience the implementation of the acquired knowledge. Some useful tools that the participants learned during the course were: to develop evaluation questions, create the design matrix, select and construct data collection instruments, choose the sampling strategy, plan for and conduct data analysis and finally present results.

At the conclusion of the course a participant summarized course experiences as follows:  “I now know what I thought I knew but really did not know; I am now better equipped to move from outputs to outcomes.”

The tools that were provided to the participants during the course are meant to manage results-based monitoring and evaluation, facilitate program implementation and most importantly the attainment of outcomes rather than outputs.  Participants now have enhanced tools to design and maintain RBM systems to provide essential information to policymakers, identify and correct weaknesses, and reorient focus from outputs to impacts.

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