This guide presents an approach to developing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system for projects supported by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The content is derived from guidance in ProPack (CRS, 2004 and CRS, 2007) and streamlined based on experience in CRS country programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The new approach is called SMILER: Simple Measurement of Indicators for Learning and Evidence-based Reporting.
While M&E is rarely thought of as simple, SMILER breaks down the development of an M&E system into easily understood parts. SMILER is a comprehensive and practical approach to develop an M&E system; the objectives and their indicators are linked to a system to collect, analyze, and report on data. SMILER includes mechanisms to turn data into useful knowledge that supports sound project decision making and ensures that all staff have a clear understanding of the project and their role in M&E.
The guide helps CRS project staff, technical, and M&E staff use SMILER to turn M&E plans, described in their proposals, into M&E systems that produce relevant and reliable information for project stakeholders and encourages learning and sound decision making. Most M&E guides explain data-gathering methods such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other methods; they do not describe the process of developing an M&E system in which data are systematically collected, reported and used to make project decisions.