Monitoring is a core management instrument, both for projects that might encounter problems and those which achieve some success.
The general objective of all monitoring activity is to maximise the impact of the programme and, as importantly, to maximise the return on investment of EU funds through the achievement of public policy objectives. Benefits of monitoring extend beyond a given project, since lessons can be learnt and principles of best practice disseminated.
Monitoring is critical to all projects. Each project should have embedded internal project monitoring arrangements to check progress or achievement of milestones, identify problems, recognise the need for change, amendment or development, and ensure quality. Monitoring is therefore to be perceived as a positive and constructive activity supporting the project and helping it to realise its objectives.
With the start of Tempus IV phase, a new monitoring approach has been introduced, which links strong desk monitoring activities and a reinforced field monitoring policy.
Both desk and field monitoring have three functions/aspects:
- Preventive: getting information on the rules & procedures established within a project; review of objectives, priorities, methodology, planned activities
- Advisory: recommendations on both content and financial aspects of the project
- Control: checking and assessment of project results
An exercise of field monitoring can already take place following the launch of the project (the period during which the organisation and the management of the consortium are set up). At that time, recommendations can be given, the results of which will appear in the interim report (the period for preventive field monitoring: 3 to 12 months after the beginning of the eligibility period).
Following the interim report submission, when various project activities are deployed, field monitoring concentrates more on the control of the activities, links between the contents of the interim report and the situation on the ground. During this exercise recommendations are made for the continuation of the project (the period for advisory field monitoring: after the receipt of the interim report or in the last 6-12 months of the eligibility period).
After the completion of the project, field monitoring will aim to evaluate project results, its consequences, impact, the sustainability of the activities and programmes set up, multiplier effects (the period for control field monitoring: 3 to 15 months after the end of the eligibility period ).
Tempus IV field monitoring policy is based on EACEA Tempus unit staff and National Tempus Offices monitoring, to be complemented by external monitoring experts, upon request, by parent DG.
It is the responsibility of the Agency to follow the project cycle and to closely monitor the implementation of the selected proposals. In the framework of their terms of reference, NTOs are required to undertake field monitoring of all projects involving HE institutions from their country (based on the monitoring plan approved by the EACEA Tempus unit), to report to the Agency and to propose recommendations.
In field monitoring, NTOs will mainly focus on:
Field monitoring is taken to be a major task amongst NTO activities. Field monitoring reports prepared by NTOs facilitate desk monitoring operations by EACEA staff and is complementary to EACEA follow-up of grant holder and partner activities.
When the EACEA – Tempus unit undertakes field monitoring, it can either be by joining a monitoring mission scheduled by an NTO, or it can be a specific project, which the local NTO is asked to accompany. In this case, the NTO will also actively participate in the field monitoring exercise. EC Delegations can be invited and their involvement is encouraged.
(extract from the NTO field monitoring handbook provided by EACEA, 2009)