Results Based Monitoring and Evaluation (RBME) advocates a paradigm shift from traditional M & E where inputs and implementation activities are emphasized over output and results. As a management tool, RBME ensures that goals are being met on a consistent basis by emphasizing results over behaviour and activities. Mine is an agency for the control of AIDs at the state level.
Information has transformative power and lack of it opens up deformities in the management and service delivery channel. There are three broad categories of stakeholders who need RBME information in my organization. These stakeholders in no particular order are as follows: the project team, the funder and participants. Each of these categories is a complex unit.
Obviously, different stakeholders will have different information needs. The funder wants to know if results are being achieved and if their funds are well managed. The project manager wants to know if the project he is leading is on track, within scope, budget and time. The participants want to know that their communities and youths are leading safe sexual lives and that incidence of HIV/AIDS infections are on a downward descent.
RBME provides a framework that uses performance information to improve project efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. I recommend the following strategies be deployed to increase user demand for RBME.
- Participatory Real Time Database Management System: The importance of an efficient database management system to RBME cannot be overemphasised. In addition to this, a real-time system that is able to gather, synthesise and disseminate timely information to project operation is important. Timely information is vital in an age of information overload, hence, a system that is able to sift through these myriad of data to come up with actionable information is most desirable. The real time database system can then be linked to user friendly front-ends systems, including web pages, social media platform, sms platforms, email platforms, radio platforms and even local print media, so the participants and larger public can have eyes on the direction of the project.
A major challenge for RBME use is difficulty and cost of data collection. I believe that when incentives are in place and technology leveraged, this challenge naturally fizzles away. This means that the real time database management system should provide a way of collecting data via less disruptive channels. Data collection method should not be a herculean task that discourages the data collector or alienates the data donor. A simple facebook like button that encourages users to click the button if they are practising a certain adolescent health advice is a good application. This strategy enlists the conscious participation of all stakeholders and makes RBME appear effortless. Broadband data penetration is not widespread in some areas, but most people have a mobile phone with SMS capacity. Participation of users in the RBME process can be solicited via SMS which is also affordable and popular.
- Establish RBME Champions as Drivers: The foundation of any building is critical to the survival of that building. In same vein, a project on a shaky foundation is on its way to failure. In order to avoid such a scenario it is important that the organization identify persons who are champions, advocates and firm believers in the principle of RBME and appoint them to leadership positions. Many good strategies arrive dead on arrival at board meetings because such strategies do not have a voice at the management level where the final buck stops. Secondly, RBME Champions should be incorporated at the implementation sphere of the organization. At the department levels, project units, and sections, these champions should be planted to be the primary drivers of RBME at these levels. They will ensure that project staffs never lose view of RBME in their day to day activities.
- An RBME Policy: An RBME centric policy should be put in place at all levels. The National Assembly should enact laws that make it compulsory for budgetary allocations to state governments on HIV/AIDS projects should be accounted for in terms of outputs and deliverables and not on implementation activities. At the Project Management level, of course, an M & E policy is in place, but it needs to be upgraded to inculcate principles of RBME. – Obinna Nweke, Nigeria