The Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning online platform (MEL), used by eight CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and Centers, has won the silver prize at the 2018 Enterprise Business Collaboration Award in Berlin in the category of ‘Best Collaboration Infrastructure’.
Presented during a ceremony on 19 November, the award positions MEL and its development team as among global leaders in the field of knowledge management and enterprise collaboration. The annual event brought together over 200 industry professionals to discuss the most pressing challenges and solutions, technologies and best practice innovations in enterprise collaboration, with awards to recognize outstanding projects.
“The award represents a key recognition of the value in the collaborative effort initiated across institutions and programs for the team. The results reached today could not be achieved without a constant dialogue and exchange among the partners. There is a number of tools available. However, I believe that the effective ones are those you have really adopted and adapted with the user being your primary client,” says Enrico Bonaiuti, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) who received the award on behalf of the MEL team.
MEL is a comprehensive structure that caters for planning, management, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and sharing for program and project activities all in one organized space. It saves time and resources and allows for faster and more informed decision-making both inside an institution and across its partners.
“We move so fast towards the use of advanced ICT tools. Users are sometimes disoriented with multiple platforms, their effective usage and what they can get out of them. MEL helped us to link a variety of tools and work dimensions in order to provide more analytic capacity while boosting collaboration among stakeholders,” adds Enrico.
The online platform was launched in 2016 as a collaborative initiative between ICARDA GeoAgro, the now-concluded CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems. Other CRPs soon joined the efforts, including the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), which was one of the first partners to adopt MEL and played a role in both refining the software and championing its use among partners.
“The MEL platform is strengthening and smoothing project and program management. From the beginning, it was a collaborative work that mobilized CGIAR Centers, Research Programs and partners,” says Claudio Proietti, RTB Program Management Officer.
Over 600 projects have now been mapped or carried out through MEL and more than 200 are currently managed through the platform – saving hundreds of hours of staff time. In total, more than 800 CGIAR activities are managed through the platform, connecting offices from across five continents.
“During the last year, we joined efforts with the CGIAR System Management Office to enhance the interoperability of the different IT platforms within CGIAR. Our aim is to support informed decision-making processes by facilitating the flow of programmatic information through the use of a harmonized IT architecture,” explains Claudio.
Another major advantage of the free-of-charge platform is the flexibility it provides, allowing for organizations and projects to customize it to meet their needs.
“MEL is already built for the future. This small tool brought together partners with no previous working collaboration. The partnership among the people involved will exist beyond the life of the programs implemented. I also expect that MEL will play a key role in the years to come in bringing together new different stakeholders and proving them with a platform to optimize processes and re-think working modalities,” says Enrico.
MEL is the result of the synergic efforts by CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC), CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-food Systems (FISH), The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), The International Potato Center (CIP), The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), ICARDA GeoAgro, and is powered by iMMAP, Codeobia, D-Space and Amazon Web Services.