The Significance of a CSR Project Monitoring Platform

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“Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals- they are both essential ingredients for long-term success.” - Bill Ford

These technological advancements and changes have significantly impacted multiple process-driven domains of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in the organized formal sector. Manual CSR monitoring and management is a tedious and time-consuming process. The CSR project management requires the upkeep of a mammoth sized database from different locations. Generation of reports manually is a task organizations want to optimize. The emerging CSR project monitoring technologies are trying to address these issues.

These monitoring and evaluation technologies help organizations see how viable projects are and which gaps need to be addressed or what changes need to be initiated. CSR project management can be a little more complicated due to the emotional nature of the projects involved. But without these tailor-made performance indicators and key parameters that indicate and reflect the focus and context of the program, it is difficult to produce the desired results, address gaps where relevant lessons can be learned, or new strategies to further develop the program can be recommended. Therefore, just having a monitoring and evaluation framework will not help in attaining desired goals. Proper creation and fine-tuned management of the monitoring and evaluation strategies will be critical to leading the CSR project to success.

Here are some of the ways in which the Corporate Social Responsibility platform and frameworks help organizations in their CSR projects,

1. Assists in tracking necessary information

The best CSR platforms or even the most experienced CSR consultants in India often begin with a customized tracking of the organization’s database. This fine-tuned research helps in ascertaining whether the project is on track, and the optimization of resources like cost, time and effort deployed for monitoring and evaluation strategies. Such assessments and evaluations further help in improving the delivery system of CSR activities by systematic planning and proper resource allocation.

2. SMART indicators for evaluation

The evaluation plan in most CSR project monitoring works on the “SMART” principle i.e. Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Time-Bound. Such tools help in specifying the terms of what needs to be measured/assessed, quantitative/ qualitative analysis, and data capturing based on realistic parameters aligned with the on-ground situation bound by a specific timeline. These elements are thoroughly considered before the performance indicating framework is put in place.

3. Helps in streamlining data verification

The verification of data through multiple primary and secondary resources is key to the foundation of any project. The authenticity and accuracy of this verified data can be easily organized through various customized tools in the CSR monitoring and evaluation platforms.

4. Regulatory compliance

The CSR laws keep evolving and periodically reformed and updated. There is a potential risk of non-compliance to the organizations leading to associated penalties. The CSR monitoring platforms help in optimizing the tools to keep the information updated for regulatory compliance. Strategies can be adjusted and updated smoothly according to the law.

5. Budget and project milestone tracking

One of the key objectives of any CSR department is to ensure that the funds that have been allocated to reach planned short-term and long-term goals through designated tasks for the well-being of the targeted community are utilized thoroughly. Through the monitoring and evaluation frameworks, the organizations are frequently nudged to manage the organization’s progress against their commitments.

6. Effective decision making

With several constant monitoring tools, the CSR platform also helps in reflecting potential red flags or gaps reflecting issues in a timely manner. This timely discovery can help manage potential delays in the project, and helps in involving the targeted stakeholders to contemplate and find resolutions to the problems.

7. Sharing data with relevant stakeholders

At quarterly or half-yearly evaluations, the data collected is further processed for analysis of results to be shared with relevant stakeholders for performance assessments. For real course correction of the on-the-ground activities, this data is then shared for better planning and designing of similar projects. This purpose-driven data collection helps the organization to inform its staff and stakeholders about the success and performance of the program. It can also be customized to assist the staff to make modifications in real-time.

The CSR monitoring and evaluation platforms also include plans for internal dissemination among various program teams and wider dissemination among various stakeholders and donors involved. A program team might want a monthly review of data to initiate program-based decisions and develop work plans, while the donor meetings to review data and project progress might be scheduled on a quarterly or annually basis. The CSR platforms give organizations the liberty and options to discuss with stakeholders and schedule their data reviews accordingly. Monitoring is the lifeline of the potential success of any project as it ensures effective and timely decision-making and mitigation of potential risks and challenges faced by the project. An evaluation system reveals target progress and outcomes set during the project designing phase post implementation of the CSR activities.

SoulAce has been working in the CSR monitoring space for a long time and has an established approach, methodology, and supportive tools for thorough evaluations of CSR projects.