All businesses at some time or another undertake project or programs that impact on their consumers, staff or the community. Project planning, implementation and evaluation can be undertaken internally or supported by an external consultant to facilitate the process.
Project evaluation can be defined as the consistent, ongoing collection and analysis of information for use in decision making. Decision making can occur at any stage of the project life cycle, being before, during or after.
Project evaluation supports the business by providing ongoing, systematic information that strengthens projects during their life cycle, and, whenever possible, outcome data to assess the extent of change. The evaluation effort should leave an organization stronger and more able to use such an evaluation when outside support ends.
Project evaluation methods should include a range of techniques to address important project questions. Project evaluation should:
- Address real issues: evaluation efforts should be based around the real context of the project and/or organisation and provide staff and stakeholders with reliable information from which to address problems and build on strengths and opportunities
- Create a participatory process: people must participate in project evaluation. The best evaluations value multiple perspectives and involve a representation of people who care about the project. Effective evaluations also prepare organizations to use evaluation as an ongoing function of management and leadership
- Allow for flexibility: in design, implementation, and review