A good monitoring framework helps you collect relevant information in the implementation of your project. So that you can know how you are doing and what to adjust, if necessary, to do better. At the end of your project, it is time to zoom out a bit and evaluate the project as a whole. To learn about the design and the implementation process as well as the results and impact created by the project. So what questions to ask in your evaluation?
Evaluation areas of attention
If you look at reports of external evaluations, you will see that most evaluations focus on: Relevance, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact, Innovation and Sustainability (of the project results and impact). And for each of these areas, several questions are formulated and answered in the evaluation.
Keep it simple
If you are just starting out, and not commissioning an external evaluation, I recommend keeping it simple.
You might want to cluster questions around: design, implementation process, and results of your project.
So what could you ask?
Two sets of key questions you can use as starting point are:
- What worked and should we keep? Why? How?
- What would we do differently next time & improve? Why? How?
See how that could work
You can apply these questions to the design of your project:
- Which parts of our intervention logic or theory of change worked out as we thought? Which parts of our logic were not true in reality? Why is that? How can we adjust our intervention logic or theory of change to be more realistic or on point?
But they also apply to your implementation process:
- What did we like doing and went well? Why is that? How can we preserve that energy?
- What went well in the team communication? Why? How can we make sure to do that the same in the next project?
And they work also when looking at your results:
- What did we achieve that is valuable? Why is it valuable? How can we keep it?
- What unexpected results did we achieve? Why? How can we integrate these results in our plan next time?
You can expand your sets of questions by adding:
- What should we stop investing time and energy in? Why? How?
- What could we start doing? Why? How?
These sets of questions may help you zoom out a bit further. These questions may also help you take more radical standpoints on what you have done and may do in future. For example, you may have projects with very similar or even the same activities. Cleaning actions. Football tournaments. Math’s classes. You can ask yourself: should we stop doing this? Why? Or, formulated differently: can we think of a reason why we might not want to continue these activities? The answer could be, perhaps another activity could achieve the goal of a clean forest better. Etc.
My key tips
- Practice asking what, why and how questions.
- Do a mid-project evaluation and take your time for that. Use this also to formulate the best questions for a final evaluation session. Compare the responses from the mid-project and the end of the project evaluation.
- Take time to formulate decisions and integrate them into new plans and proposals.
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