The difference between monitoring and evaluation is that the former is concerned with the gathering of information and the latter with interpreting it.
Monitoring and evaluation is a two-step process. They are two distinct actions but go hand in hand as tools for assessing the viability and success of a project. They are used by a myriad of organizations and public bodies as an integral part of providing a quality service or product.
Monitoring always comes first and provides the opportunity to demonstrate how resources are being used. Evaluation uses this information to determine whether objectives have been achieved. Evaluating a project or service can also show what works and whether changes need to be made. It also provides intelligence which can be used to support future funding applications.
Evaluation is essentially a means of measuring by gathering data. This is done by counting (hits, visits etc), questioning (surveys, focus groups) and research of existing data. Questionnaires are often used and these should be short, simple and straightforward to generate the most accurate results. The target participants can be random or specifically chosen as relevant.
Monitoring means keeping a close eye on how a project is performing, checking that what is happening is in line with what was expected or proposed. It is the continuous collection of information for analysis.
Once this has been done it can form the basis of evaluation along with the results from the other methods of gaining information for assessment.
Monitoring and evaluation together provide a sound system of determining whether funds and resources have been used well.