Swisscontact considers regular results measurement and continuous monitoring to be an integral part of project management to guarantee quality assurance. Our standardised Monitoring and Results Measurement (MRM) system provides timely evidence on a project's progress towards its planned outputs, outcomes and impacts complemented with qualitative information to understand why and how changes have occurred or not. This allows for adaptive management to take timely corrective action, guaranteeing the continuous impact orientation of our programmes. Since 2013, Swisscontact has been investing significant resources in developing the MRM system in line with internationally recognised standards of the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED). For a brief introduction to our MRM system please watch Swisscontact’s’ MRM explainer video based on a practical example.
To put the MRM system into practice, internal guidelines are available in three languages (English, French and Spanish) and local MRM specialists support our projects to implement the guidelines. A Community of Practice ensures further information sharing beyond individual projects where guidance and tips are provided through webinars and other forms of virtual exchange. Tailored training workshops are organised to upgrade the technical capacities of local MRM staff including the use of IT solutions, as was the case in Bangladesh and Benin in 2019.
As part of our MRM system, Swisscontact defines global impact indicators along with outreach, jobs and income projects that are reported on annually and feed into Swisscontact’s annual report. To capture those impacts, most of our projects carry out rigorous impact studies to analyse and verify that the improvements in the life of our target groups in terms of jobs and income can be attributed to the project. Erka Çaro, Swisscontact MRM specialist in Albania outlines below how impacts are assessed in a Skills Development Programme with the example of the SDC project Skills for Jobs (S4J) in Albania.
What impacts are expected from the S4J programme for our target group, the students?
Erka Çaro: S4J addresses the main challenges of the Albanian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system by focusing on ensuring systemic change, capacity development and empowerment of key actors. The main goal of the project is that young women and men from all social groups in Albania find attractive and gainful employment thanks to improved skills. S4J aims to increase the income of young women and men by offering them relevant training opportunities based on new ways of learning and in cooperation with the private sector.
How do you assess those impacts?
S4J uses so-called “tracer studies”. We trace graduates for between six months and one year after graduation to assess the main impact indicators of the project: are the TVET graduates employed, and what is their income situation? To assess if the changes observed with the tracer study canbe attributed to the project, S4J uses the Difference-in-Differences (DiD) method, comparing findings with baseline data and control groups.
What are the major challenges you face in an impact study and how do you deal with them?
Designing and implementing impact assessments is challenging, especially for Skills Development programmes. It is sometimes difficult to trace students one year after graduation as they are no longer accessible through the school and we have limited opportunity for face-to-face interviews. We try to overcome this challenge by sending out standardised online questionnaires to graduates for data collection.
Moreover, identifying an appropriate control group with similar characteristics is oftentimes challenging, making the comparison and attribution difficult. We have developed an MRM manual to guide the design of impact studies and make use of Swisscontact’s global Community of Practice to benefit from other projects’ experiences. We also share key learnings and guidance with the international development community such as our MRM manual.
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