Prepare

Form an evaluation project team

Typically, there is an individual accountable to ensure an evaluation is planned and conducted, such as a Program Manager or Director. This individual will strike an Evaluation Project Team to complete the task. The Evaluation Project Team is comprised of individuals who can offer expert program knowledge and other skills as necessary to complete the evaluation process. In addition to the Program Manager or Director, the Evaluation Project Team will likely include individuals who can fulfill the roles of:

  • Evaluator (see below)
  • Program expert
  • Stakeholders
  • Evaluation coordinator

The Evaluator may be an individual who is internal (e.g. an employee) or external (e.g. a consultant) to the organization. Internal evaluation is the process of using staff members who have the responsibility for evaluating programs or problems of direct relevance to managers.

If the Evaluator is an employee, she/he can offer:

  • Organizational knowledge to ensure evaluation methodology is relevant;
  • Potentially, a responsibility to use the evaluation to achieve on-going organizational improvement.

External evaluation refers to contracting with an external consultant to complete the evaluation. If the Evaluator is an external consultant, she/he can offer:

  • Necessary (and often specialized) expertise;
  • Objectivity

It is often advisable for an Evaluation Project Team to comprise of both internal and external personnel.

Identify stakeholders

Evaluation stakeholders are individuals and groups (both internal and external) who have an interest in the evaluation, that is, they are involved in or affected by the evaluation.

Evaluation stakeholders include:

  • Program management (managers, team leaders, executive sponsors)
  • Funding agencies
  • Program personnel (first line leaders, support staff)
  • Volunteers and community representatives
  • Program participants

To identify stakeholders, consider:

  • Who is funding the program?
  • Who delivers the program (e.g., third party delivery agencies)?
  • Who has requested the evaluation (e.g. funding agency, decision makers)?
  • Who will use the results of the evaluation and how?
  • How will the organization, stakeholders and personnel respond to findings?
  • Who will the evaluation results be disseminated to?

Develop evaluation charter

An Evaluation Charter is a document that is developed to seek formal approval from internal management to proceed with an evaluation project. The evaluation project may be to develop an evaluation plan and/or conduct an evaluation.

The Evaluation Charter describes:

  • Goals of the evaluation project
  • Objectives of the evaluation project (concrete steps to completing the project)
  • Evaluation stakeholders and primary intended users
  • Assumptions about how the evaluation project will proceed
  • Known risks to completing the evaluation project
  • Roles and responsibilities of the evaluation project team members

Develop evaluation budget

An Evaluation Budget helps to consider what expenditures are needed in developing the evaluation.

Example of an evaluation budget.

Develop evaluation timeline and schedule

Deciding when to collect data is an important part of planning an evaluation. When you don’t plan for data collection, you often miss important opportunities to gather data. For example, once you begin a project, you may no longer have the opportunity to gather important baseline data about the sample. Basically, evaluation data can be collected at only three points in time—before the project, during the project, and after it has been completed. Frequently, you collect baseline data before the project to document the conditions that existed beforehand. Sometimes data are collected during a community-building effort to determine whether the effort is on course or needs changes. Data can also be collected after the community-building project is completed to document what was accomplished.

A work plan organizes everything into one table: the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW of your intended evaluation activities.

Example of a work plan. 

Research Ethics Board approval

Depending on how the evaluation is conducted and who it involves, approval from a Research Ethics Board may be required. Please refer to your local institution for the usual process of application and approval, as every REB operates in its own way.