Click to Learn More About Our Work in Strategic Planning, Performance Monitoring, Evaluation, and Applied Research

MSI transforms vision into action:

  • • Envisioning a Brighter Future
  • • Building Stakeholder Buy-In
  • • Constructing Theories of Change
  • • Prioritizing Specific Results
  • • Analyzing Action Options & Costs
  • • Developing Action Plans & Metrics
  • • Systematically Managing for Results

What makes planning “strategic?”

What distinguishes “strategic” planning from mechanistic planning exercises is making the best possible match between dreams, the right mix of resources for achieving them, disciplined thinking about cause and effect, and sound approaches for measuring and learning from progress defined in terms of verifiable metrics. We are known worldwide for helping organizations apply proven aids for strategic planning, including the Logical Framework and related results-based management tools


Illustrative Engagements

Strategic planning assistance to USAID/Kenya illustrates the integrated nature of this work:
MSI facilitated the development of USAID/Kenya’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS); MSI conducted 30 internal and external stakeholder consultations on future directions for Kenya and U.S. assistance.
In 2014, MSI facilitated a Portfolio Alignment exercise to operationalize the Mission’s strategy and restructure projects in line with new USAID guidance.
MSI is supporting the Mission’s first CDCS stocktaking exercise, which has so far included an analysis of performance data across the portfolio and Development Objective (DO) level sessions to synthesize progress on these intended results.


MSI Measures Program Progress:

  • • Developing clear statements of intended results (MSI staff pioneered the institutionalization of the Logical Framework and Results Frameworks in USAID and other organizations)
  • • Creating valid, reliable and actionable performance indicators
  • • Setting feasible, evidence-based targets
  • • Collecting digital data
  • • Training on data quality
  • • Utilizing focused planning and dissemination of monitoring results
  • • Visualizing data for decision making
  • • Providing performance monitoring services in non-permissive environments

Integrated, Multi-Level Performance Management

During 2015, we helped USAID/Kenya with one of the most comprehensive performance monitoring planning processes ever undertaken by an MSI Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) support contract.

Streamlining and efficiency were prominent themes, where teams focused on key indicators and added additional indicators only when they found a compelling reason to do so.

This was done in three phases: 1) Mission-wide PMP for measuring the Country Development Cooperation Strategy; 2) MEL plans for project appraisal documents; and 3) Alignment between activity M&E Plans and the new PMP.


Illustrative Engagements

Examples of our work supporting performance monitoring include:

Performance Management Plan (PMP) support to multiple USAID bilateral Missions. Four hundred monitoring site visits in Yemen for the 10 World Bank projects.
USAID upgrade of performance monitoring training modules in Agency courses to ensure alignment with current guidance. Regional PMP for USAID’s West Africa Program that emphasized strengthening regional entities.
Third-party monitoring of the World Bank’s five Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund projects. NGO Sustainability Index for USAID’s Europe and Eurasia Bureau which has tracked changes in institutional capacity across that region for over a decade.


MSI conducts roughly 50 evaluations, assessments and special studies annually under ongoing USAID Mission and Bureau-level Evaluation, Monitoring and Learning Support Projects. We are regularly engaged in other evaluations under indefinite quantity contracts and other contracting arrangements with USAID, the U.S. Department of Labor and other organizations.

MSI Documents What Works and What Doesn’t

    • • Assessing Evaluability


    • • Conducting Performance Evaluations
    • • Final (summative)
    • • Whole-of-project evaluations
    • • Multi-country, multi-project (program-level evaluations)


    • • Running Ex-Post Evaluations
    • • Sustained effects evaluations; post-project adaptation, institutionalization and replication
    • • Cost-effectiveness (planned versus actual)


    • • Accomplishing Impact Evaluations
    • • Experimental-research trials
    • • Quasi-experiments
    • • Implementation of fidelity monitoring
    • • Non-experimental designs


    • • Leading Meta-Evaluations
    • • Evaluation quality-compliance with guidance
    • • Evaluation evidence strength
    • • Patterns of findings by sector or region (meta-analysis)


Illustrative Engagements

In 2016, MSI evaluated USAID’s utilization of evaluation results to support decision-making, and identified key factors and Agency protocols that correlate with evaluation use by USAID staff and USAID partners.
In Jordan, MSI implemented two impact evaluations. The first was a complex quasi-experimental study examining the effectiveness of efforts to improve elementary education. It relies on technically complex early grade reading and math assessments to gather data on student achievement in treatment and control schools. The second impact evaluation examined the effectiveness of USAID support for stronger municipal governance and compared citizen perceptions of municipal services in treated and control communities.
MSI provides ongoing evaluation services for Chevron’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in Bangladesh. Using this data, Chevron is able to target more accurately their community-based projects.


MSI Asks Questions that Lead to Answers

In Colombia, MSI helped USAID, the Government of Colombia and other donors assess the relevance of the Alternative Development program, which helped farmers move from coca production to other crops.
In Jordan, MSI helped USAID re-assess its job creation targets.
Drawing on lessons from over 300 USAID anti-corruption projects implemented worldwide between 2007 and 2013, MSI produced a 2015 Practitioners’ Guide for Anticorruption Programming using a five phase process and proven tools for each phase.
Following Mexico’s adoption of criminal justice system reforms, MSI carried out the first national study (16,000 respondents) of citizen perceptions of the criminal justice system (2012).
Beginning in 2017, MSI is engaging in applied research on countering violent extremism for USAID/Bangladesh that will focus on drivers and dynamics of violent extremism in institutions, regions and among population subgroups.
For the McArthur Foundation, MSI carried out applied research on activities aimed at scaling-up innovative practices that demonstrated the importance of managing the scaling up process. This included building sufficient support and the institutionalization of improved practices in adopting organizations. Scaling Up – From Vision to Large Scale Change, MSI’s handbook for practitioners, emerged from this research activity.

“Everybody should read this.”
Eric Postel, Former Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment

MSI’s 2016 Capacity Development Assessment for USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment is an applied research activity that won high praise from Bureau leadership. The study analyzed capacity building practices across 12 offices that backstop field programs on a sectoral basis and foster attention to gender issues on a cross-cutting basis. Additionally, the study documented the frequency with which specific types of capacity building interventions are used and provided evidence concerning their effectiveness. Through case studies as well as survey and document research 50 emerging “good practices” were identified and disseminated.