Benchmarks for Monitoring and Evaluation

Article excerpt

Monitoring and evaluation trips up more businesses than any other phase of strategic planning. Great plans are laid out, communicated and initially implemented but become meaningless because proper monitoring and evaluation doesn't take place.

Monitoring must begin rapidly when a new program is implemented, or backsliding takes place, as if to test your resolve to enforce the new program.

The feedback you get through daily or weekly task list reports is vital for seeing that new programs are truly taking effect. Task lists should not only state what needs to be accomplished and a projected date for completion, but also a so-called "drop-dead" date, with interim reports continuing until this date. Weekly reports should manage the progress of all tasks that are part of the strategic plan, down to the tactics necessary to make them happen. All critical success factors should be on someone's task list. In addition to these weekly reports, other items need to be monitored on a monthly or quarterly basis. For example: gross profit in most companies is much easier to monitor by reviewing monthly financial statements rather than weekly. Continuous sampling of the overall business is required to measure some factors. The key is to establish a benchmark for comparison. Finding a company that is very successful in a certain activity, and using them as a standard for your own goals is a common method of setting a benchmark. In the case of a small or midsized business, their best chance of finding this information for benchmarking is not through the annual statements of a public company, but rather through some company that they have met in a buying association or trade association. It is important to make sure that different accounting approaches do not create a deceiving benchmark result. …

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