Feb 182009

You may be feeling defensive and uncomfortable at the prospect of your project being evaluated.

It feels as if you’re heading to court where you’ll be cross-examined, criticised and then judged. Perhaps you, or your project, will be found wanting with uncomfortable consequences for everyone.

Perhaps you’ve tried to push this spectre out of the way, meanwhile your doubts grow larger each time you consider it. Now you can’t put it off any longer.

The good news is there’s no to need to fear an evaluation.
This is because a professional evaluation involves a series of steps before coming to any element of judgement. These steps are:

  • understanding the context of your project – why it was set up and how it operates
  • agreeing with you a shortlist of important project objectives to review
  • reviewing existing information on your project, from your project records
  • identifying what extra information is needed and how it will be obtained, usually information and opinions of: clients, project staff and stakeholders
  • discussing and agreeing survey plans with you
  • impartial analysis of all the information that’s collected
  • drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on all the preceding steps.

Professional evaluations also follow good practice guidelines, like those of the UK Evaluation Society, which protect the interests of all parties.

So, while evaluation does eventually involve an element of judgement, like a good court case it is based on first collecting sound evidence. Unlike a court case, there is no fierce cross-examination, and no desire to reach the black and white extremes of a ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not guilty’ verdict.

The bottom line: Please be assured that evaluation is a fair process, involving full discussion with a range of parties, with conclusions emerging logically from the information and opinions collected.

© May Johnstone, 2008, Project Perspectives.co.uk. Please feel free to circulate this article provided it is used in its entirety, including this acknowledgement.

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