Evaluation may be defined as the process of assessing the weaknesses and strengths of policies, organizations, products, staff members, or programs in order to improve their efficiency (Mckenzie, Neiger & Thackeray, 2004). The process of evaluation involves the systematic gathering and analysis of information that will govern the decision-making process. During evaluation process, one may determine the gaps in a certain entity that prevent it from successful operation. Sometimes, these may include certain missing services, abilities, or actions. However, before those inconsistencies can be identified, one needs to know the goals that an organization is working towards and, thereafter, thoroughly track their achievement. After obtaining the results, one must communicate the received information to the entities involved. The participants should then modify the process, policy, or program under analysis.
When evaluation should be done
There is no straightforward answer to this question because it utterly depends on the purpose of carrying out the evaluation in the first place. Nonetheless, in most cases, evaluation should be done during the process of strategy implementation because it provides an organization with an opportunity to apply what it has just learned. Furthermore, since strategies keep evolving all the time, there ought to be a mechanism for analyzing how effective the programs are. Through such timing, the management team has an opportunity of reflecting about their actions and correcting themselves before implementing the strategy fully. This prevents the organization from wasting its time and resources on wrong steps. Evaluation allows companies to identify the issues that may contribute to large missteps by engaging the stakeholders at every stage of the process. When evaluation takes place during operations, the participants tend to become more accountable than they have ever been; therefore, the evaluation process acts as a learning tool for all the individuals concerned. Sometimes, the appropriateness of the program must be analyzed so as to ascertain that the entities concerned are heading in the right direction.
How evaluation should be carried out
The first thing that should be done in an evaluation is an overview of the entire process or program. Thereafter, the evaluator must determine why an evaluation is so necessary. Once reasons for evaluation are established, one must find out the key information that needs to be known during the research process. Subsequently, one must design the actual evaluation process. Afterwards, the evaluator can gather the information and conduct its analysis, which is followed by formulating a set of recommendations that stem from the analysis. The evaluator should then communicate the results to the participants. After they receive the information, the participants must act on it in order to modify operations.
Why bother with evaluation
Evaluation is of vital importance in the process of analyzing the level and quality of service delivery in an organization. Routines in program operations also need to be analyzed in order to allow the team to make short term corrections. Some pieces of information that can be useful in achieving this function are assessments of the project or operational costs, the amount of resources allocated to staff members, and the characteristics of the staff members involved in the process. In this way, the participants can learn how to plan their resources properly or how to carry out their activities in a timely manner.
Evaluation helps companies to stick to their goals and objectives. During operations, it is quite easy for staff members to lose sight of their projected plans whereas evaluation ensures that the firm stays on the right track doing its day-to-day operations; besides, evaluations increase efficiency in an organization (Bradford, Duncan & Tarcy, 2008). After getting results from the evaluative process, the stakeholders concerned may learn how to target their services to areas and people, which have the highest demand for them, or how to increase service offerings.
Another benefit of evaluations is enhancing project accountability. The process allows an organization to identify some of the areas that need to be improved and the participants that can lead to those changes, which contributes to improvements in the corresponding project, organization, or policy. The evaluation process allows the group to carry out self-improvement by identifying degree of effectiveness of a certain operation method.
Who should do the evaluation
An organization has the option to choose external and internal evaluators, or a combination of both. Companies can select internal evaluators when they have minimal resources or when they do not have the time to teach an external evaluator about the processes used in their work. Internal evaluators assist in ensuring that the recommendations made after the evaluation are realistic, which heightens the stakeholders’ ability to commit to them. On the other hand, evaluation can be done with the help of external evaluators. This approach should be selected when the operations involve more than one institution and a lot of resources. In this scenario, objectivity is a highly desirable trait. The issues under consideration need to be of a large scale.
Bradford, R.W., Duncan, J.P. & Tarcy, B. (2008). Simplified Strategic Planning: The No-Nonsense Guide for Busy People Who Want Results Fast. NY: Routledge
McKenzie, J.F., Neiger, B.L. & Thackeray, R. (2004). Planning, implementing and evaluating health promotion programs: A primer. NJ: Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Company