LEADER Monitoring and Evaluation
8. LAG Monitoring and Evaluation Timelines
Why should LAGs plan a detailed timeline for their monitoring and evaluation activities?
In order to design and implement an effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation system it is essential that LAGs carefully consider the timing of all the necessary steps. As no one element of the system exists in isolation from the others this must ensure that all the elements of the system are coordinated and fit together in the required sequence e.g. in ensuring the timely provision of data.
What do LAGs need to do?
The most important concept for LAGs in developing their monitoring and evaluation system is retro-planning. Retro-planning involves the LAG in identifying the key milestones for their evaluation activities for both their own LDS and the RDP throughout the programme period. This should involve consideration of what is mandatory, what else is required and when. Once these milestones are established by working backwards the necessary preparatory steps can be identified. This includes elements such as:
- data specification;
- the design of application, monitoring, claim and reporting materials and procedures (e.g. to capture baseline data);
- setting reporting dates;
- designing and conducting surveys;
- preparing tenders;
- developing evaluation methods e.g. for self-evaluation; and
- training and capacity building
An indicative outline of the required timing to ensure that the resources, materials and information needed is available on time and in the right format. Don’t just rely on start or completion times; take account of the duration of activities. LAGs need to be realistic here and consider any timing risks, plan for slippage and include a margin or buffer to allow you to meet essential deadlines.
An important part of any retro-planning exercise is take to take account of any lessons from the past, in this case on lead and delivery times from your own or others monitoring and evaluation experience.
What are these major milestones?
The major RDP level milestones which affect LAGs during the 2014 - 2020 programming period comprise the enhanced Annual Implementation Reports (AIR) in 2017 and 2019 which Managing Authorities must submit and the ex post evaluation following the closure of the programme. LAGs therefore need to consider what information needs to be made available by the end of 2016, 2018 (including first information on impacts) and 2024. Additional national level deadlines and milestones may apply.
As LAGs will be required to contribute to these RDP level milestones coordinating LAGs own LDS monitoring and evaluation activities with these should help avoid additional or unnecessary work.
What about the LDS?
The main LDS specific activities LAGs are likely to need to consider are those contributing to reviewing LDS performance, updating or amending the LDS (studies, intermediate evaluations and updates etc.) and an ex post evaluation. In identifying the timelines for these LDS specific activities LAGs should therefore plan to take advantage of the preparatory activities necessary for the mandatory elements by making use of these outputs or activities and feeding this in to the LDS timeline.
How might we do it?
A useful approach to planning the timeline for the activities the LAG will have to undertake is to use a timeline diagram, a form of flow chart based around these key milestones like the indicative example over. This can be adapted to include both RDP and LDS level activities. The example provided includes both but it should be noted that the LAG level evaluations are merely illustrative examples.