5 Ways To Enhance Your Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Career in 2021
It is the start of the new year. Here are 5 resolutions to enhance your professional life over the next 12 months.
1. Brush up on your knowledge and skills.
Lifelong learning is where it is at! The options vary from full academic programmes at a university or shorter professional development courses training. The International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) has a solid reputation among new and established evaluation professionals.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning is trending. You can check out my online offerings.
Once you have completed a M&E course, don’t just stop there. You can participate in webinars, attend M&E conference, read blogposts etc. The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank publishes interesting blogs on the current trends and developments in the field. A personal favourite of mine are the blog posts from SocialCops. I love how they break down technical information in an accessible and easy to understand manner. For example, explaining how sampling works or how to design a survey design.
In sum, always refresh your skills and be on the lookout for information and training on new and innovative M&E techniques. This is the only way to stay sharp and on top of your game, not just in M&E, but in any area of life. To use the analogy of mobile technology, either you keep upgrading yourself or risk becoming obsolete.
2. Subscribe to online platforms
An essential resource is ‘My M&E.’ This is an interactive Web 2.0 platform that shares knowledge on country-led M&E systems worldwide. Additionally, ‘My M&E’ has a virtual library, maintains a roster of evaluators, has a listing of training programmes offered by different institutions, gives an overview of M&E job vacancies, has webinars and an e-learning programme. “My M&E” is the ultimate ‘one stop shop of M&E”. So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up already!
Additionally, you should be a subscriber to BetterEvaluation.org. This is not a suggestion, it is an absolute must for anybody who is serious about M&E. I find this website to be a rich source of useful (and downloadable) documents on a wide variety of thematic areas.
3. Join an Evaluation Society or Association
I definitely recommend that you become a member of your national/regional evaluation society or association. Not only does this give you credibility, but it is good for networking and for keeping abreast of the developments in your local context.
Below is a list of just a few evaluation societies and associations. Please see this interactive map for an overview of the evaluation societies and associations worldwide.
American Evaluation Association (AEA)
African Evaluation Society (AfrEA)
Australasian Evaluation Society (AES)
Canadian Evaluation Society (CEA)
European Evaluation Society (EES)
UK Evaluation Society (UKES)
4. Become an active member of an Community of Practice (COPs) groups on Monitoring and Evaluation
There are several groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo and Facebook that are dedicated to the subject of M&E. Just conduct a search on these platforms and several group names will appear. Some organisations, such as the UN, have COPs for a variety of professional groups. Once you join a group, make an effort to be an active participant and attend the conferences/events whenever you can.
Even if you are new to M&E, you can contribute by asking questions within the group. Share a problem you have been grappling with on your project. If you are a student or unemployed, ask about an assignment or ask about career prospects. You’d be surprised on how willing people are to help and depart their knowledge. Or better yet, if you are a bit more experienced, share your best practices with the group. I regularly learn new things from my groups.
Being part of a community is an excellent way to network, increase your knowledge and get insight into developing trends and issues within M&E.
“Book knowledge” can only get you so far. It is useful to learn from the experiences of other M&E practitioners in the field. How did they conduct an evaluation? Design a Results Framework? What issues did they encounter working with a particular group or with a M&E technique etc.?
5. Have a library with certain publications
There are a few 'must-have' publications on evaluation that you should read and have in your library. This list is derived from my personal experience and also from the recommendations of other evaluators in the field. Please note that my list is not exhaustive. Feel free to suggest additional publications to the list in the "Comments' section below this article.
Hope these resolutions were helpful in taking your M&E career to the next level!