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PME Tools

A tool to improve PM&E performance

The Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation System (PlaMES) is a tool for annual planning and budgeting; for monitoring at activity and output level; and for recording results at outcome and impact level of the logical framework. It can be used to capture data on progress and results, link this data to project indicators, and make it available for management purposes and reporting. Please note that PlaMES is no longer available for new projects.

Designed for IFAD Projects

PlaMES can be used by IFAD-supported projects with an implementation period of 4-10 years. It is structured in a way that matches the design of typical IFAD projects, and incorporates IFAD Core Indicators and other indicators in the logical framework. The focus is on physical progressAnnual financial summaries (expenditure by component) can be entered to compare physical progress and financial progress, but details on disbursement and expenditure (financial progress) as well as procurement and resource management (using a Register of Assets and Register of Contracts) should be captured separately. and the database functions as part of a broader Management Information System (MIS)[MIS overview]
Key elements of a project Management Information System (MIS)
.

Setup

PlaMES can be installed as one central system, or it can be decentralized and used by multiple project institutions. Data are then compiled in a central database through a process of data exchange. PlaMES has been designed for use on stand-alone computers, it is not a web-based system. During setup, the results hierarchy, indicators and other project-specific definitions are entered. Different people can log on as:

  • user, who can only consult data and generate reports;
  • operator, who can also add and change data;
  • administrator, who can also access administrator functions and database definitions.

PlaMES Main Functions

Activity Planning

Key tasks during annual planning include defining activities for next year; specifying budget details for these activities; and setting targets for output indicators.

PlaMES main functions

[planning form1][planning form2]
Form to enter planned activities with budget details

The AWPB Register can be used to enter details for planned activities: what will be done, when, where, and by whom. Budget details can be added to each activity: the expenditure category, and budget amounts by quarter and by financier.

The administrator can enter targets[targets form]
Form to enter annual, mid-term and completion targets for indicators
for indicators. Once activities, budget details and indicator targets have been reviewed and approved internally, different lists of planned activities can be generated and inserted in the AWPBAWPB: the annual workplan and budget for carrying out a project during a particular project year, which includes the Procurement Plan. document or distributed to project partners. A variety of budget summaries can be generated in local and foreign currency, as tables[budget table]
Budget summary by component and quarter
or graphs[budget graph]
Budget summary by category and quarter
.

Activity Monitoring

When the AWPB has been approved, implementation of activities can start. The AWPB Implementation Register can then be used to add information on progress to planned activities. In this register, four pieces of status information can be added and updated for each planned activity:

[progress form1][progress form2]
Form to add progress data to planned activities
  • how much has been achieved compared to planned quantities (for example, "11 out of 30 storage facilities have been built")
  • the status of an activity, using standard statements such as "ongoing but behind schedule" or "fully completed"
  • a short comment to further explain the status of the activity or action required, for example: "Construction cannot start until access roads have been repaired"
  • a 'red flag' to indicate that an activity is a problem activity, which needs special attention.

Monitoring at activity level happens throughout the year: the status of activities should be updated at least monthly. Information on implementation progress can then be retrieved as a printable report,[progress report]
Progress report at activity level
tables exported to Excel and graphs[progress graph]
Graph showing the number of activities by activity status
. Filters can be used to limit the activities, for example to those implemented in a certain geographic area. Project implementers and management can use these reports to track overall progress with implementing the AWPB.

Output-level Results

Project activities are implemented in order to deliver outputs, through which higher project objectives will be achieved. Outputs are the level of accountability of a project: what are the direct results of efforts made and money spent? [outputs form1][outputs form2]
Form to enter output-level results
It is therefore important to create an historical overview of these direct results.

To facilitate this aspect of monitoring, a set of project outputs is normally defined together with output indicators. Project-specific indicators can be linked to IFAD Core Indicators. An Outputs Register can be used to enter details on output-level results, and capture quantitative data using indicators.

Data on results at output level should be recorded continuously throughout the project period: as soon as construction or training has been completed, key facts should be collected and entered. This prevents work piling up and data being lost, which will otherwise happen with the passing of time. The data entered can be used to generate printable reports[outputs report]
Progress report at output level
, tables and graphs[outputs graph]
Graph showing people trained
. Project implementers and management can use this information to assess whether outputs are being delivered as expected and to prepare progress reports.

Progress with Achieving Objectives

If all is well, outputs will lead to outcomes, achieving the PDOProject Development Objective, the final outcome of a project that contributes to an overall goal. and contributing to an overall goal. But is this really the case? Outcome indicators can be used to assess this, together with qualitative information such as case studies and observations by project implementers. Data on outcome indicators would ideally be collected at project start-up, at project completion, and annually between mid-term and completion. This will involve some survey work to get data from the target group.

[outcomes form1][outcomes form2]
Form to enter outcome-level results

From the time of the Mid-Term Review onwards, the focus will increasingly be on assessing the extent to which higher-level results are being achieved. In PlaMES, data at this level can be entered in an Outcomes and Impact Register. This would happen infrequently, maybe only once per year when survey data has been collected. Information on higher-level results can be produced as a printable report[outcomes report]
Report at outcome level
, an indicator summary table exported to Excel and using graphs[outcomes graph]
Graph showing results at outcome level
.

Knowledge Management

The tools discussed so far focus on recording what the project does (activities), delivers (outputs) and subsequently achieves (outcomes and impact). This involves consistently collecting and entering data in the Activity Progress Register, Outputs Register and Outcomes and Impact Register. An historical overview of facts and figures is thus created that represents the project’s efforts and results. This is a core function of M&E.

[KM form1][KM form2]
Lessons learned in the Knowledge Management Register

Equally important is analysis of reasons why the project is effective or not; lessons learned about interventions that work and those that don't; examples of how the target group adopts new technologies or fails to do so; and stories that illustrate how households benefit from the project. A Knowledge Management Register is included in the PlaMES to enter such information and keep it in one place. These lessons and stories[KM story]
Stories offer a different perspective
offer a different perspective and can illustrate what is behind the numbers.

Beneficiary Organizations

Local organizations, such as producer groups, savings and credit groups and other Community-Based Organizations (CBO) tend to play a central role in IFAD projects. They are supported so that they can more effectively carry out economic activities; manage local infrastructure; represent the interests of farmers; and deliver services to members. Many projects invest in strengthening existing and establishing new beneficiary organizations.

[groups form1][groups form2]
Form to enter beneficiary organisation details

The Beneficiary Organizations Register in PlaMES can be used to record key facts about local organizations participating in the project. The data entered can be retrieved as reports[groups report]
Report on beneficiary organisations
, tables and graphs[groups graph]
Graph showing the status of beneficiary organisations
that provide an overview of these organisations and their status, or show the details for one particular organisation.

Summary Indicator Report

[summary1][summary2]
Report with indicator targets and achievements
This is arguably the most important report produced by PlaMES, which brings together all data that have been entered for indicators at different levels: output, outcome, the PDO, the overall goal, and total outreach. In this report, annual and cumulative results can be compared with annual, mid-term and completion targets. Because project-specific indicators are linked to IFAD Core Indicators when the system is set up, indicator data has to be entered only once.

What Next?

The information presented above gives a quick impression of the main features of PlaMES. More information can be found in two manuals that have been prepared: the User Guidelines and Administrator Guidelines. It is also possible to 'test drive' PlaMES. A fully functional version with data has been prepared, which can be downloaded, installed and used.

Feel free to further explore these and other resources on the next page.