Effective monitoring and evaluation begins with the objectives of your project or program. Many organizations fail in their effort toward effective monitoring and evaluation because of lack of a SMART objective in their proposed project. There is a big different between a goal and objectives. While goals are more general and cannot be measure, Objectives are more specific and can be measured. A SMART Objective an objective that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. In the Non-for- profit sector, Objectives can be of four different classified as Behavioral, Performance, Process and Product For illustration, here is the goal of a project with a subsidiary objective:
Goal: Our after-school program will help children read better.(Cannot be measured)
Objective: Our after-school remedial education program will assist 50 children in improving their reading scores by one grade level as demonstrated on standardized reading tests administered after participating in the program for six months. [YES it is specific, it can be measured (50 children improve reading score by one grade), it is achievable, it is realistic, it is timely (6 months)]
1- Behavioural — A human action is anticipated.
Example: Fifty of the 70 children participating will learn to swim.
2- Performance — A specific time frame within which a behaviour will occur, at an expected proficiency level, is expected.
Example: Fifty of the 70 children will learn to swim within six months and will pass a basic swimming proficiency test administered by a Red Cross-certified lifeguard.
3- Process —the manner in which something occurs is an end in itself.
Example: We will document the teaching methods utilized, identifying those with the greatest success.
4- Product — A tangible item results.
Example: A manual will be created to be used in teaching swimming to this age and proficiency group in the future.
Looking at the four type of objectives stated above, it is very clear that they respect all the elements of SMART and can be monitored and evaluated at the end of the project in comparison with the baseline information or assessment.