Third-party monitoring is the practice of continually gathering and analysing externally observable data.
What is Third Party Monitoring?
Third Party Monitoring (TPM) is the practice of collecting and verifying monitoring data. It can especially provide organizations with oversight in environments made otherwise inaccessible by conflict or instability.
TPM can involve services including verification of service delivery, inspection of program implementation progress, and collection of feedback from beneficiaries and other stakeholders. These services are critical for ensuring that projects achieve their goals and positively impact beneficiaries.
ORB’s Third-Party Monitoring
Given ORB’s extensive data collection capabilities, we have significant experience supporting continuous performance monitoring and verification for large-scale and multi-sectoral projects. ORB has carried out multiple third party monitoring and verification projects, in locations including Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo (ROC), and the Central African Republic (CAR).
What Goes into Third Party Monitoring?
Site Visits – Site visits refer to in-person examinations of activities and data collection. This allows for primary understanding of how certain services are provided. Site visits can involve taking samples from specific sites or conducting other forms of data collection outlined below. Not every intervention or activity lends itself to a site visit, as the presence of observers could have an impact on how an activity is being implemented. Rather, site visits provide an opportunity to gain in-person context into an event or collect information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain in an impartial manner.
Direct Observation – Direct Observations (DOs) are a less intrusive method of collecting data in which an enumerator can directly observe an activity or site against a specific set of criteria. During DOs, enumerators can also collect other forms of data such as pictures and videos to support reporting efforts.
Document Reviews – Desk reviews involve verifying the outputs and outcomes of ongoing projects through an overview of relevant documents. Such documents may include attendance sheets, meeting notes, supply records, reports, budgets, guidelines, and other pertinent information deemed relevant to the program.
Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) – KIIs are face to face interviews with relevant beneficiaries or stakeholders. This form of qualitative data collection allows for in-depth, open-ended discussions with specific individuals or sub-groups of interest. It is more appropriate for understanding the “how” and “why” related to stakeholder experiences, and can harmoniously complement other data collection efforts. When done effectively, the semi-structured nature of KIIs allows participants to express their views in more depth and detail than other forms of data collection.
Surveys – Surveys are a critical tool of quantitative data collection. Quantitative data collection allows for a more robust and representative picture among a target population, especially in cases where a project may look to achieve a specific outcome.
Why is third-party monitoring important?
The primary reason for using third-party monitoring services is a lack of access to implementation sites, which could be due to resources or environmental challenges. In conflict-prone and unstable environments, TPM services can mitigate security risks and conflict insensitivity.
The data collected from TPM can also help organizations make more informed decisions concerning project design, implementation, and management. It allows organizations to engage with data to ensure projects make positive impacts on targeted communities. TPM also mitigates risks related to budget considerations, such as assuring donors that projects are(or aren’t) achieving the desired outputs and outcomes.
Third-party monitoring best practices:
ORB’s approach to conducting third party monitoring is guided by the following principles, based on ‘best practice’ learning among our third-party monitoring projects:
- All verification methodologies must incorporate feedback from relevant stakeholders. This requires continuous consultation and collaboration between ORB and stakeholders.
- Verification efforts must be sensitive to differences in context and geography. These sensitivities should be considered in the design of each data collection approach.
- Verification efforts must be adaptable to lessons learned and dynamics on the ground.
Why use a third-party monitoring company?
Hiring a third-party monitoring company provides an independent perspective on project performance, ensuring trust and transparency across all participating parties, including both implementing partners and beneficiaries. It offers concrete methods for accountability that ensure projects stay on track and meet predetermined goals. Furthermore, third-party monitoring strengthens compliance in insecure contexts where access is often limited.