Monitoring systems are first shaped at the design stage, during identification, based on the context analysis and relevant programming documents. In MIPs, NIPs and RIPs, the strategic overall and specific objectives are already defined. Most of the time, they are then translated into expected results at the impact and outcome levels and accompanied with associated indicators. Each Action Document also specifies outputs, indicative activities and action logic, explaining how the corresponding intervention(s) will contribute to the broader strategic objectives.
The initial response strategy should consider lessons learned from past and ongoing interventions, including those promoted by governments, other development partners and by the EU.
Regarding EU-funded interventions, the main learning sources are:
- Reports from other interventions.
- Results-oriented monitoring (ROM). ROM entails an external independent snapshot of the implementation of an intervention at a given moment. It serves not only as a support tool for intervention management by informing stakeholders about the performance of a specific intervention, but also contributes towards lessons learned for further programming and design and future implementation of interventions.
- Intervention evaluations. These are evaluations conducted at the intervention level. They provide an in-depth understanding of an intervention's performance and lessons learned. They are the responsibility of the Delegations or INTPA operational units in charge and are complemented by ROM and internal monitoring.
- Strategic evaluations. These assess the results of INTPA policies and instruments over a significant period. They contribute to accountability by assessing the quality of INTPA development aid as a whole and provide recommendations and lessons for policy formulation and programming. They are managed by INTPA 04, Evaluation and Results, which maintains a published work programme.
Ex ante evaluation
During the design phase (identification and formulation), an especially relevant tool might be ex ante evaluation. An ex ante evaluation is an instrument supporting design and facilitating later monitoring and evaluation of an intervention. It has three objectives:
- to analyse the clarity and internal coherence of the intervention's objectives and to assess whether the planned resources are sufficient to achieve the expected results;
- to quantify/validate the intended achievements of the intervention along its results chain;
- to define/validate the indicators and targets to be used to measure results.
Ex ante evaluations are important in understanding different outcome scenarios to benchmark the type of effect sizes that can be expected across a range of indicators, to examine the cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness of the planned intervention, and to estimate the effects of reforms before their implementation. Ex ante evaluation is used to verify the need for the intervention and to set targets for its outcomes; this is done by verifying the intervention outline and its anticipated outcomes and by establishing outcome indicators.
Monitoring at early design
At the identification stage, monitoring is usually limited to definition of overall and specific objectives for the intervention, based on the preliminary problem analysis and needs identification.