One page PDF summary
There is a faster way of working out: what an agency is trying to do; if its work is focused on its priorities; what it is currently measuring and tracking; what it's proving about its impact; and how to best discuss the program/agency's work with stakeholders in the course of the review.
In many situations, an external agency, or a review team, has to review or monitor another program or agency.
Reviewing and monitoring is often inefficient - wading through long documents to work out what is going on.
The DoView External Program Monitoring or Review Process is based on using a visual outcomes model (an 'outcomes DoView') of the program/agency's outcomes and the steps it is taking to reach them. This model is used as the basis for all review/monitoring work.
The DoView approach is used to answer the key set of review/monitoring questions. These are set out below. This work can be done by a review/monitoring team. However, in an ideal world the program/agency would have done much of this work itself and it would just be critiqued by the review/monitoring team.
1. What is the program/agency being reviewed trying to do?
More on how to draw a program/agency DoView
The external review/monitoring team needs a methodology to be able to work out whether the program/agency being reviewed has a clear concept of its outcomes and priorities.
In some cases, where the logic is specified at a sufficiently detailed level, it can be validated against what the research literature says about what works in terms of similar interventions. It can also be critiqued by the review/monitoring team.
In addition, it can be sent for review by other peer reviewers. It can also be used in discussions with stakeholders to see if they agree with the agency's priorities.
2. What are the agency's priorities and is its activity focused on them?
Secondly, the actual pieces of work the program/agency is doing are identified (at the outputs-type level) and these are visually mapped onto the boxes in the outcomes DoView.
Line-of-sight aligment can be seen by looking at the number of pieces of work focused on each box within the DoView. Obviously, more work needs to be focused on higher priorities and less work on lower priorities. DoView Line-of-sight analysis allows a clear view of whether the program/agency has achieved strategic alignment.
See here for how DoView Line-of-Sight alignment works
It should be noted that the second part of this process - the DoView Line-of-sight analysis is usually best done by an agency itself and given to a review/monitoring team to critique rather than a review/monitoring team constructing the Line-of-sight analysis itself.
Just relying on a program/agency's documentation and discussions with agency management and staff can leave a monitoring/review team with a lack of clarity as to whether the program/agency has a tight strategic focus.
The first stage of just identifying priorities onto the visual DoView is a very powerful technique in itself. It means that the program/agency has to clearly specify what it is doing at the moment, and equally importantly, what it regards as a lower priority.
The DoView which is marked up with priorities can be used as a basis for discussion with stakeholders to see if their view of what the program/agency's priorities should be matches up with what the agency thinks its current priorities should be.
The second stage of mapping work onto boxes in DoView visual Line-of-sight analysis is the most powerful and transparent way of quickly analyzing whether a program/agency's work is focused on its priorities.
3. What is the program/agency currently measuring and how is it tracking?
It should be noted that not all boxes within the program/agency DoView are likely to have an indicator next to them.
However it is often hard to work out from such documentation: 1) whether the indicators have been set out in measurable terms; 2) whether targets have been set (where appropriate); and, 3) whether the indicators are measuring the 'important' rather than just the 'convenient to measure'.
4. What is the program/agency doing to prove its impact?
In addition, further impact evaluation questions that the review/monitoring team is planning to address can also be added to the DoView.
In either case, the questions are put next to the boxes in the program/agency DoView that they relate to.
More on putting evaluation questions onto a DoView
More on Duignan's Impact Evaluation Feasibility Check
Impact evaluation is a complex technical area which is often hard for a review/monitoring team to rapidly assess.
In addition, it avoids the confusion often caused in impact evaluation discussions where the same evaluation questions are being discussed but they have different wordings.
5. How should the work of the program/agency be conceptualized in discussions with stakeholders and when reporting on strengths and weaknesses of the program/agency in the review/monitoring report?
If the program/ageny's priorities have been marked up on the DoView, stakeholders can be asked whether they agree with the program/agency's priorities.
In addition, a review/monitoring team can 'traffic-light' a DoView of the program/agency. This shows where there are problem areas and where things are going well. This marked-up DoView can then be used by the review/monitoring team in their report on the review or monitoring work.
A related technique - a Performance Improvement DoView is used to show both areas of strength and weakness and how these are being addressed by a program going forward.
More on how to use a Performance Improvement DoView
In addition, in a busy world review/monitoring teams need a fast way of communicating the results of their review/monitoring work.
Additional practical ways of using DoView in monitoring and review processes
Identifying review interview questions
The DoView can be used to identify questions to ask interviewees. There may be different groups of interviewees with different types of knowledge about the program. Go through the DoView and mark which boxes will be the focus of questions for which groups. See information on how to use a DoView to work out a set of questions. Use this approach to compile a separate interview schedule for each group (if there is more than one group of interviewees).
Alternatively, for increased efficiency, simply provide the relevant DoView pages (having marked the boxes you want the interviewee to focus on) to interviewees either before, or during, the interview. Work through each of the boxes asking them what points they want to make about that box (e.g. whether it is happening or not, how it can be improved). At the end of the interview, ask them if there are any boxes they want changed or added. If you wish, as you go through each box, you can ask interviewees to tell you how they would traffic light each box on the basis of whether it has been achieved so far or not. Green = 5, green/yellow = 4, yellow = 3, red/yellow = 2, red = 1. Afterwards, count the total for each box, get the average and use it to assign summary traffic lights of how interviewees viewed the box.
Show a summary 'traffic-lighted' copy of the DoView. Use the titles of the DoView boxes to structure your report. Amend the DoView to show what you now think needs to happen to achieve the program's outcomes. Additionally, if you wish, you can use DoView Line-of-Sight (mapping projects onto boxes - see here) to show what interventions should be made to improve the program being reviewed.
Taking notes within the DoView file
Within your DoView file, copy the DoView page(s) you are going to use in any particular interview and name them after the interviewee. Put a new box on the page with the interviewee's name in it. Put any general notes about the interviewee (e.g. title) into the working notes section of the details table at the bottom of the window for that box.
As you do the interview, enter your notes about what the interviewee is saying about each box into the working notes section for that box. Include the name of the interviewee at the top of the working notes entry for each box.
When you have finished the interviews go to File > Print as PDF. Select only the pages for the interviewees you want to review. Select Include details (in separate file) and save the PDF. Open the PDF which has the details in it and you will see all of the responses from each interviewee listed sequentially under the name of each box.
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