Monitoring & Evaluation
vs.
Business Intelligence

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is the process of turning data into decision-making information, leading to improvements in overall performance.
Business Intelligence (BI) is the analysis of business information to transform a business’ data into actionable insights that inform tactical business decisions; ensuring a more secure return on investments.

Sounds similar? Essentially, they are the same! In the public sector, and for projects and programmes, we say M&E, and in the private, we refer to it as BI. M&E is used by non-governmental organisations, governments and funding organisations to ensure that goals and objectives are met with accountability. BI is used by business firms to essentially do the same thing. Business organisations can opt to combine BI with Business Analytics, to make predictions based on trends.

When is M&E and BI Used?

Daily Operations

Track your daily activity outputs.

Projects

Ensure that temporary ventures meet the intended goals and objectives.

New Programmes and Policies

Monitor new programmes and policies to ensure proper implementation.

Most public sector organisations know of or practice some type of M&E, so most of the convincing is needed in the private sector. However, sound M&E and BI practices need strengthening throughout the Caribbean region; especially in the Small Island Developing States.

Below are some interesting articles we thought would help private sector organisations evaluate their BI stance. Check them out!

What is Business Intelligence?

6 Business Intelligence Examples

9 Ways You’re Failing at Business Intelligence

7 Keys to a Successful Business Intelligence Strategy

Importance of M&E/BI

If its not obvious by now, M&E/BI is very important to any organisation interested in progress. We at Ananda, would even say that it is as essential as proper accounting, human resource management and operations management—maybe even a bit more! That is because M&E/BI in one of these areas can inform other areas of an organisation. However, it does not stand alone. Policies and procedures need to be put in place when adopting an M&E/BI system to ensure continued accountability and progress.

Here are some benefits of M&E/BI:

  • contributes to transparency and accountability, and reveals mistakes. Reports lay paths for sharing lessons and suggesting improvements

Who does not want to know exactly what is going on in every aspect of their organisation? In a perfect world team surveillance should not be necessary, however an organisation with many moving parts may require more vigilance in order to accomplish goals. Having a system where internal stakeholders are transparent and held accountable, fosters the communication of expectations and experiences, leading to operation improvement.

  • allows actors to learn from each other’s experiences, building on expertise and knowledge. This provides a means for organisations seeking to learn from their experiences, to incorporate lessons learnt into policy and practice, adding to their retention and development of institutional memory

Life is an experience, and becomes history with every passing second. Whether we want to or not, we learn something from doing anything – even by doing nothing! Of course, organisations always have some type of plan for operations. However, the strength of this plan will determine the number of issues encountered – and there will be issues! Without argument, recording lessons learnt can inform expertise within organisations. Using M&E/BI techniques helps this process by recording pathways to changes, enabling organisations to understand how and why they went from point A to point Z.

  • provides the only consolidated source of information showcasing progress

Ask yourself: Does your organisation store performance history? Do you know if employee satisfaction has increased in the last quinquennium? If you wanted to know the measure of some indicator from 1996, can you pull it up right now?

  • provides a more robust basis for raising funds and influencing policy

Producing evidence of something is a strong basis for any argument. Evidence of accomplishments is a great foundation to stand on when approaching funders and supporters, or lobbying for permanent changes within an organisation.

  • provides a way to assess the crucial link between implementers and beneficiaries on the ground and decision-makers

This applies more to the public sector, but can be applied in the private if required. Do you know what your supporters are saying about your organisation and its products/services? Do you know what they were saying 10 years ago? Has that changed for the better or worse? Does what they say even matter to your organisation?

  • provides a basis for questioning and testing assumptions

This is where BI can meet Business Analytics. Let’s say your organisation would like to investigate the association of some variable with an operational output, to see if this said variable negatively or positively affects the output. If the data does not already exist, it would be a burden of a task to retrieve that data in order to conduct proper research. Having a BI system already in place gives business managers the freedom to explore advanced business techniques such as business analytics in a more feasible time-frame.

  • ensures processes are operating at industry standards

The performance measurement process revolves around comparing indicator results to set targets. Targets basically represent an optimal threshold to work towards. If an indicator result meets its target, the activity is considered to be “performing well”. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are indicators used amongst organisations of the same industry to determine process performance. These indicator targets act as a marker to ensure productivity because the result at that specific threshold is set by expert judgement. Though some organisations may not have the ability to currently meet those standards, the M&E system can create a paper trail of progress and ensure inching toward industry standards.

Skills Required To Measure Performance

M&E/BI is an interdisciplinary field. It consists of a range of tools and steps necessary to build and maintain a proper system. The collated data charts created at the end of the process may look great and organized, but the man hours behind that final product are multilayered and grueling. Below is our depiction of the skills required to create a proper M&E/BI system.

How Is The Technique Applied?

The main output of creating a M&E/BI system is figuring out how the organisation works logically. That is, what is needed to do which activities and what are the expected results. For that we create a logical framework (logframe for short). Without this, we would not know what to measure. Below is the general idea of what a logframe would look like for our service, ME1 (Full Service M&E/BI).

Consider outsourcing M&E and BI for objective results!

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