5. This seems like a lot of work and I’m very busy. How can I make it quick?
In short? Good planning and integration. In the long run, MEL can save you time – you’ll gain program efficiencies by spending less time and resources on activities that aren’t as effective. (After all, do you want to be putting in long hours for something you can’t be sure is actually working?)
But you will need to invest in setting up your MEL framework and getting everyone on board for your shared journey of change. And, as per question 3, you need to build in the time learn, which we guarantee will deliver program efficiencies.
Once you’ve got the basics covered and people on board, MEL doesn’t have to be another thing to do “on top” of your existing work. There are effective ways to weave MEL practices and evaluative thinking into your existing work and processes. For example, working out where MEL data gathering can be integrated with existing data and survey work.
6. But what if MEL shows my project isn’t working?
We get this question a lot. Sometimes MEL can feel like a test or audit of our work (and of us!), and as such, people can tend to avoid it. (The term “evaluation police” may have come up once or twice). We’ve already touched on some of the best ways to combat this: building a shared understanding of your journey of change, a common approach for measuring your impact, and most importantly, supporting a culture of learning.
And sometimes the data will show that a project isn’t working. But if you genuinely want to create change, then wouldn’t you prefer to know that sooner rather than later? And be armed with the best data possible to understand why something’s not working, so you can pivot if need be? Everyone makes mistakes, and things sometimes don’t work as intended. Good MEL is about learning from mistakes – helping you identify problems quickly and providing the space and structures to adapt and improve