Definitions of Evaluation in Management
- Evaluation is the analysis and comparison of actual progress vis-à-vis prior plans. Evaluation is oriented toward improving plans for future implementation to ensure improved performance. Evaluation is part of a continuing management process consisting of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Ideally each of these steps follows the other in a continuous cycle until successful completion of the activity.
- Evaluation involves comparison of actual performance against benchmarks or standards of performance to establish the extent of fulfillment of goals and identify gaps in performance to suggest remedial courses for ensuring that in the end all ends well, that is fulfillment level is 100%. The goals vary depending on the situation, participants and issues.
- Evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and impact of development interventions or programs.
- Evaluation is the assessment of how well a project/activity achieved its objectives.
Evaluation may be post action evaluation and continuous or ongoing evaluation during implementation. Post action evaluation is feed-back oriented. Ongoing evaluation is evaluation during implementation. It is referred to as ‘review’ and is linked closely with monitoring or assessment of the project’s success in meeting its intended outcomes.
Systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics and outcomes of program is needed to make judgments about the program, improve program effectiveness and/or inform decisions about future programming. Evaluation has several distinguishing characteristics relating to focus, methodology and function. Evaluation (i) assesses the effectiveness of an ongoing program in achieving its objectives and (ii) relies on the standards of project design to distinguish a program’s effects from those of other contributing factors to performance.
Types of Evaluation
There are qualitative and quantitative evaluation systems. There are formative and summative evaluations. These are presented now.
1. Qualitative evaluation is an assessment process that answers the question, ‘How well did we do?’ The areas of focus of qualitative evaluation include:
- Content, quality, and relevance of a program;
- Attitudes and achievements of the participants;
- Quality of resources employed and environment adopted;
- Efficiency of strategies and activities;
- Social Costs in relation to what was achieved and
- Social Benefits
2. Quantitative evaluation is an assessment process that answers the question, ‘How much did we do?’ The areas of focus of qualitative evaluation include: Numbers of offerings, amount of good and bad outcomes, economic costs, economic benefits and so on.
3. Formative evaluation is a process of ongoing feedback on performance review. The purposes are to identify aspects of performance that need to improve and to offer corrective suggestions. Be generous with formative evaluation. Share your observations and perceptions with all. Formative evaluation need not make a judgment. When giving formative feedback, offer some alternatives. Formative evaluation is needed if safety concerns arise.
4. Summative evaluation is a process of ongoing feedback on performance review with the purpose of identifying larger patterns and trends in performance and judgment against criteria to obtain performance ratings.
Evaluation Association evaluation involves ‘assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness’. Evaluation is the systematic collection and analysis of data needed to make decisions.
Here are just some of the evaluation activities that are already likely to be incorporated into many programs or that can be added easily:
- Pinpointing the services or outcomes needed; their levels; their quality standards.
- Establishing program objectives and deciding the particular evidence that will demonstrate that the objectives have been met. A key to successful evaluation is a set of clear, measurable, and realistic program objectives. If objectives are unrealistically optimistic or are not measurable, the program may not be able to demonstrate that it has been successful even if it has done a good job
- Developing or selecting from among alternative approaches for measuring performance
- Tracking program objectives for example, setting up a system that shows who gets services, how much service is delivered, how participants rate the services they receive, and which approaches are most readily adopted by staff
- Determining the extent to which a particular approach is being implemented faithfully by participants.
Dimensions of Evaluation
The Dimensions of evaluation include process, outcome, and impact evaluation.
- Process Evaluations describe and assess the system of functioning of a unit or a person. The system of planning, organizing, directing, executing, controlling and reporting are assessed. Examining the implementation of activities is an important form of process evaluation. Implementation analysis documents what actually transpires in a unit and how closely it reflects the goals.
- Outcome Evaluations study the immediate or direct effects of the program on participants. For example, when a 10-session program aimed at quality checking of system inputs is completed, can the participants demonstrate the skills successfully? The scope of an outcome evaluation can extend beyond knowledge or attitudes, however, to examine the immediate behavioral effects of programs.
- Impact Evaluations look beyond the immediate results of policies, instruction, or services to identify longer-term as well as unintended program effects. It may also examine what happens when several programs operate in unison. For example, an impact evaluation might examine whether a program’s immediate positive effects on behavior were sustained over time.
Regardless of the kind of evaluation, all evaluations use data collected in a systematic manner. These data may be quantitative such as counts of program participants, amounts of counseling or other services received, or incidence of a specific behavior. They may be qualitative or quantitative. Successful evaluations often blend quantitative and qualitative data collection.
Need for Evaluation
Evaluations serve many purposes. Before assessing a program, it is critical to consider who is most likely to need and use the information that will be obtained and for what purposes. Listed below are some of the most common reasons to conduct evaluations. These reasons cut across the three dimensions of evaluation just mentioned. The degree to which the perspectives of the most important potential users are incorporated into an evaluation design will determine the usefulness of the effort.
- Evaluation for Overall Management: An evaluation for overall management monitors the routines of operations. It can provide the staff members or administrators with information on such items as participant characteristics, activities, allocation of staff resources, program costs, etc. Analyzing information of this type can help the staff members to make short-term corrections ensuring, for example, that planned activities are conducted in a timely manner. This analysis can also help staff members to plan future direction such as determining resource needs for the coming year. Operations data are important for responding to information requests from constituents, such as boards of directors or divisional heads. Also, descriptive program data are one of the bases upon which assessments of program outcome are built.
- Evaluation for Staying on Track: Evaluation can help to ensure that enterprise activities continue to reflect its plans and goals. Data collection for overall management may be similar to data collection for staying on track, but more information might also be needed. This type of evaluation can help to strengthen service delivery and to maintain the connection between enterprise goals, objectives, and services. Delays are foreseen and corrective actions taken to remain on stream and schedule.
- Evaluation for Efficiency: Evaluation can help to streamline service delivery or to enhance coordination among various components, lowering the cost of service. Increased efficiency enables the firm to reach and serve more markets, offer more services, or target services to those whose needs are greatest. Evaluation for efficiency might focus on identifying the areas in which the firm is most successful in order to capitalize upon them. Also, it might identify weaknesses or duplication in order to make improvements, eliminate some services, or refer participants to services elsewhere. Evaluations of both process and outcomes are used to determine efficiency.
- Evaluation for Accountability: When it comes to evaluation for accountability, the users of the evaluation results likely will come from outside of program operations: parent firm, funding agencies, elected officials, or other policymakers. Be it a process or an outcome evaluation, the methods used in accountability evaluation must be scientifically defensible, and able to stand up to greater scrutiny than methods used in evaluations that are intended primarily for “in-house” use.
- Evaluation for Development and Dissemination: Evaluating new approaches/activities is very important to enterprise development in any field. Developers of new approaches/ activities need to conduct methodical evaluations of their efforts before making claims to potential users. Rigorous evaluation of longer-term outcomes is a prerequisite to asserting that a new approach/activity is effective. Disseminating the new approaches/activities organization-wide will spread the benefits wider.