By: Perla Castillo & Janelee Waldock

The CGIAR and CIAT have gone through transformational changes in the past decade, and recently we are driven by an aspiration to become a learning organisation. Future success depends on our ability to track and demonstrate results; which are key to influence strategy development and investments. If we cannot track or monitor what we are doing, we cannot improve as an organization nor present our results to the world. By integrating systematically outputs, outcomes, and impacts of our research in one place where everybody contributes we foster better program management and lay the basis of organizational learning.

Building on established monitoring methods and tools, plus experiences from CRPs, the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) team worked with CIAT Programs to explicitly outline their theory of change. In parallel, the team  conceptualized and designed an M&E tool to gather and integrate information at the program level.  The resulting tool CIAT-MARLO (Managing Agricultural Research for Learning and Outcomes) is a simple and user friendly and has the ability to synchronize information from other sources like Agresso, CGspace, and CRP platforms. To log into CIAT- MARLO testing environment (link here),  use your CGIAR credentials. Thanks to CCAFS Knowledge and Data Sharing team for developing the tool.

Why use CIAT-MARLO?  

Get the full picture of CIAT-Programs in one place:  The tool captures vision and research agenda (with outcomes, outputs, target units, values, milestones, etc) of CIAT Programs. The system can automatically produce a variety of reports to show progress of your work. It is easy to navigate and you will not only see the information from your program area but also details of other programs. In addition, all your bilateral project information will be synchronized with Agresso.

Save time: The tool is user friendly and requires no explicit trainings or manuals (although we have them available!). With a click of the mouse you can get your key research program information, choose how you want to visualize the data and customize the reports as needed. You will spend less time reporting and your are less likely to accidentally omit to report information about products or results of your research.

Expand the way you present your research information: The tool unleashes the power of monitoring and anlysis, allowing you to easily generate an array of diagrams and visuals to tell your research story. These can be used for your internal discussions as well as for communication of results to the scientific community and donors.

Better Program management and organizational learning: With the support of the M&E team, your research program can improve monitoring program results and reporting; program leaders will be able to make strategic decisions in a timely manner.

CIAT-MARLO is part of a process to improve accountability and transparency of research activities at CIAT. We work closely with the Impact Assessment team and provide support to program leaders, scientists, and supporting staff. We also work with the data and information managers, communication professionals, intellectual property advisors where nodes of information and data exchange are key.

CIAT-MARLO will be launched in September, 2017, stay tune for details. We look forward to working with you.

Related Information: Monitoring Outcomes and Impact Assessment intranet site

Comments from Colleagues about CIAT-MARLO:

 Erika Mosquera, Communication Analyst,  Linking Farmers to Markets

“It seems to me that together with the tool it is essential to foster a culture of learning within the Center, to reflect, talk about failures, and modify what was initially planned. Above all, this tool is one step in the process of evaluating our work, not to approve or disapprove it, but to learn how to improve it.”

Stefan Burkart, Socio-Economist, Forages Program

 “I think that the tool can serve as an overview of what each program wants to achieve in the future, and show a simple path of how to arrive there. It will also make the process of monitoring the proposed activities easier and will allow for the necessary adjustments over time. The tool needs to be compatible with the similar tools for CRPs, to ensure that there is not repeat reporting. I think it would be great to teach the scientist in CIAT how to use the tool and show importance of it.”

Andy Jarvis Research Director,  DAPA

“If the tool can harvest all the outcomes from all CRPs, it is useful. It will be cool if we can get a vision of targets across CIAT and show which outcomes are in the pipeline. If it can be used for report-learning, for example: how many outcomes were anticipated, or how many were unexpected?”

Ngoni Chirinda, Scientist, Soil Research Area

“If CIAT-MARLO will be open all the time that is a huge advantage to report on how we are doing, to reflect while the experience is fresh. Also, to learn of what you have been doing so we do not miss out on stories. It would be good if the system could interact with users real time, the moment a project is approved, you would be able to associate it with outputs in the impact pathway.”

Lou Verchot, Research Director, Soils

“CIAT MARLO could help getting scientists to be explicit about impact pathways. Having these pathways explicit should trigger them to allocate project resources towards relevant dissemination activities and supporting the communications staff with project funds; we have to get better at telling our story.”

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