There is no proven approach in monitoring and evaluation for policy influence; it is a complex process that is highly context sensitive (and involving political and human elements) so will always involve a ’complex’ M&E approach. Challenges include:
- Gains are subjective: defining success is tricky and varies depending on who is asked and goal posts can shift depending on the circumstances
- Influencing work is long term, but change can be very slow and incremental
- It’s a fluid environment; work is rarely repeated or replicated and as a result there is rarely an accumulation of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work
- Influencing often means engaging in a process that may have (unintended) political consequences.
However, whilst the monitoring and evaluation of advocacy presents some unique challenges, they can be overcome. This is where CommsConsult’s experience comes in.
CommsConsult has a reputation for working at the nexus of international development evidence and policy: reviewing the impact of research on policy and practice for clients such as DFID, Practical Action and the Institute for Development Studies; and strengthening individual and organisational approaches to maximising evidence uptake and increasing the likelihood of impact through their influencing activities for clients such as IFPRI, 3ie, IDRC and a range of leading think tanks across Africa.
So, whether you want to plan, measure or explain your impact, we’ll work closely with you to identify and deliver appropriate approaches, methodologies, tools and outputs to meet your particular M&E objectives.
What services do we offer?
Independent evaluations of influencing work- Including advocacy, strategic communication, campaigns, high profile reports and other influencing activities. CommsConsult will draw on a range of approaches and qualitative and quantitative methodologies to review key formative and summative evaluation questions which might concern the quality, process, reach or impact that your influencing work has had.
Monitoring, evaluation and learning system design- CommsConsult will work closely with you to design and develop practical MEL systems that set out what is being monitored and why; what information is needed; and who needs it. We identify and describe indicators and data sources selected, as well as the how, when and who involved in data collection, analysis and reporting. All approaches are context-specific and will ensure to track different levels of outcomes, including early or interim outcomes, rather than just focusing on the elusive (and often too black and white) ‘big win’ of policy influence objectives.
M&E tool identification and development/adaptation- Based on an understanding of associated M&E literature, we will work closely with you to select tools from existing toolkits – or specifically to develop and adapt tools to fit your needs. We deliver services in a participative manner to ensure that deliverables are relevant and fit for purpose.
Research uptake strategies / Policy influence plans- We’ll assist you to ensure that all activities have a high likelihood of influencing policy; planning and monitoring targeted stakeholder engagement and all related activities to maximise uptake. This can be done on an individual and institutional level.
Learning and knowledge management strategies- We’ll help ensure the best use of learning and new knowledge through designing and troubleshooting learning and knowledge management strategies that effectively capture, develop and share information, leading to improved organisational outcomes.
Theory of Change – We will develop from scratch, review or unpack your Theory of Change, ensuring that links between each phase of the related ‘results chain’ are strong and that it is operational and measurable.
Stories of change /impact reviews - Building a performance story through (most often) the process tracing technique, our approach will make sure to review different types of potential policy influence, including: the framing of debates, encouraging discursive commitments from states and other policy actors, securing procedural change at domestic and procedural levels, effecting policy content and influencing behavioural change in key actors and partners.
Bibliometric analysis- Deploying a suite of traditional bibliometric indicators and alternative altmetric tools we can monitor and substantiate both the academic and the non-academic reach/impact of publications.
What can you expect?
- Understand and evidence what impact (intended and unintended) your influencing work has had and how
- Know how to monitor and measure your influencing activities for reporting to stakeholders and to leverage future funding
- Generate a ‘performance story’ for your organisation/research that lays out the context of your impact and highlights key findings and lessons learned which can be used for wider strategic communications activities or for internal stakeholder purposes.
- Know how to best ‘complete the feedback loop’ to ensure that lessons learned and knowledge generated are acted upon
- Services will be 100% tailored to each client’s context and objectives
- We have been working in this niche area for more than ten years already and are trusted and valued by our former clients who regularly come back to us for follow up services.
- We have a global network of high level associates and partners so we can always tap into existing knowledge of local context and key networks, critical for understanding real influence and recognising impact