This week I am in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa presenting seminars. The highlight for me was being the kick-off keynote speaker at the Pan African Monitoring and Evaluation Conference hosted by the African Information Institute (Pty) Ltd. The attendees were from African nation government agencies and development partners (i.e., donor country organizations and multilateral agencies like The World Bank). Prior to this conference I had heard of the term results-based monitoring and evaluation (RBME), and by listening to the speakers I was able to observe examples that make the term more concrete for me.
After listening to several speakers I also began to realize that monitoring and evaluation is very similar to enterprise performance management. RBME refers to the tracking of progress and demonstrated impact of projects, programs and policy by assessing the performance of an organization on the basis of the impacts and benefits expected of its programs. I made the simple mental substitution of “strategy” for policy and of “projects and processes” for programs. Voila. These African speakers were all talking about enterprise performance management.
Does it matter how far along the various African government agencies are in implementing performance management methodologies relative to other continents of our world? Of course a judgment can be made, and it would be easy to say that many African public sector bodies are further behind. But that misses the point I was most struck by. What impressed me most was how frequently speakers referred to “institutionalizing” RBME. This meant they are no longer curious about what performance management is. They have already made the leap to embracing sustained improvement as integral to their organization’s management practices.
Yes, I know there is nothing profound about what I just said – every organization should be continuously improving. But these African countries have serious challenges, such as with poverty alleviation.
A speaker who left a strong impression on me was Mathias Ofumbi, Manager of Monitoring and Evaluation for the nation of Uganda. He was candid. Do they have a long way to go? Absolutely. As examples, information systems are poor and skilled managers are scarce. But Mr. Ofumbi was articulate and passionate. He knows that institutionalizing RBME and performance management is not an option – it is mission critical. Commercial companies and government agencies across the world should take note.