Let’s improve the use and influence of evaluations

 We revisit Betterevaluation’s «Seven Strategies for Improving Evaluation Use and Influence» where (the peerless) Patricia Rogers tells us What can we do to support the use of evaluation? How can we support the constructive use of the findings and evaluation processes?

This is a long-standing challenge. Some may object that the use of evaluations has been the focus of discussion for more than 40 years, and it’s not something that is currently fully working. This will continue for a few more years if we are not aware of the challenges and assume the correct mitigation strategies.

That’s what the Patricia Rogers’ list of strategies for improving evaluation use can tell us about:

1. Let’s Identify the intended users and intended uses of the evaluation from the start.

When we identify the intended users, let’s be as specific as possible, and let’s be clear about who the main intended evaluation users are.

2. Let’s anticipate barriers to use. Some examples:

  • The credibility and perceived relevance of evaluation reports,
  • The resources and authority to make changes in response to the findings, and
  • The openness to receiving negative findings (that a program is not working or is not being implemented as intended).

3. Let’s Identify the key processes and times when findings are needed

Use is easier if we identify the key decision points and processes, and then the timing of the evaluation reports and activities need to be organized around them.

4. Let’s select appropriate evaluation report formats, adjusted to each audience and guarantee their accessibility. There is no excuse for this as, currently, different innovative & effective ways of reporting results are well documented

5. Let’s actively and visibly monitor what happens after the evaluation.

  • Management response to the findings, which can then be included in an evaluation report.
  • Tracking responses to recommendations, including whether or not they have been implemented (and how) if they have been accepted.
  • A transition process from an external evaluation that produces findings to internal processes that support change.

6. Let’s ensure that there are adequate resources to support follow-up activities and the development of additional knowledge products.

  • Incorporate a theoretical number of days for the evaluator to continue contributing after the final report.
  • Fund a subsequent project that produces additional knowledge products or works with people to think about the specific implications of the findings for their practice.
  • Allocate the time for internal staff to carry out these activities as part of their role in the evaluation.

7. Let’s document these evaluative use strategies in a formal communication plan, and update it as needed.

Let us promote the use of our evaluations, being aware of the challenges and assuming explicit strategies to face these challenges.

Let’s: (1) Clarify the uses/users (audience), (2) Know the barriers to use, (3) Know the moments key to use, (4) Explore different communication formats, (5) Do active post-evaluation follow-up and (6) secure resources for it, and (7) Design an evaluation communication plan.

We need to be aware of the evaluation use barriers to mitigate them.

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