The importance of planning Planning is a key stage in the monitoring and evaluation cycle. Organisations should think about: Why do we want to do it and for whom? What will we monitor and evaluate? How will we do it? Who will do it and do we have the right skills? When will we do it? What resources will we need, including outside support? What will we do with the information we get? Organisations themselves, and their stakeholders, will usually want to find out how the organisation or project is meeting its planned aims and objectives. These need to be clearly stated in the early stages of planning. Defining aims and objectives will help you agree on planned outcomes. Many funders and commissioners will ask for outcome information as part of their monitoring requirements. Integrating monitoring and evaluation Monitoring and evaluation systems should be developed when an organisation first starts up, so that collecting information becomes part of everyday life. Often there are later opportunities to expand, develop or focus monitoring or to carry out more developed evaluation: when an organisation is changing or developing if it is applying for or has received new funding when information is needed for assessment against quality standards when information is needed for strategic planning. Developing a monitoring and evaluation plan Drawing up a monitoring and evaluation plan will help the organisation to think about how it will carry out monitoring and evaluation over the year or over the lifetime of a project. It will consider: When will different information be collected? Who will carry out and manage the activities? How will information be collected, analysed and presented? How will monitoring and evaluation evaluation findings be used in short-term planning and decision making, and quality reviews? You will then be able to prioritise the information you need to collect regularly and on an occasional basis by being clear about the key questions, such as: How are resources being used? How appropriate is the management structure? How well are we meeting identified needs? How do we fit within a network of services? How well have we met our expected outcomes? What were the unexpected outcomes? What lessons did we learn? Organisations may focus on different questions at different points in time, and they may need different types of information gathering. Useful links You can access a number of resources through the Charities Evaluation Services and Evaluation Support Scotland websites that tell you more about planning for monitoring and evaluation.