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Reflecting on Program Monitoring & Evaluation

Since our inception as a consulting firm two years ago, we have led six evaluations for community organizations. One of the projects is an ongoing 5-year evaluation for an community-based initiative that is innovative and emergent. Because of the innovative nature of the initiative we have chosen to use a developmental evaluation framework, and a community-based participatory research approach. Developmental evaluation supports assessments of the current state and reveals how things are unfolding. Timely evaluation feedback helps project leads to determine which directions hold promise and which should be adapted or abandoned. It also suggests what new elements should be measured. Feedback is delivered in an interactive way that helps the project leads fine-tune approaches and inform decisions. Evaluation is about critical thinking; development is about creative thinking. Often these two types of thinking are seen to be mutually exclusive, but developmental evaluation holds them in balance. We have planned and implemented many of the other types of evaluation and enjoy the challenge of selecting the right approach and, as a result, providing our clients with meaningful information.

We have also supported six organizations through a process of developing key performance indicators to monitor their progress towards goals and objectives. Much like our approach to strategic planning, we have honed an effective step-by-step process that is customized to fit the needs of each client. We work with the client to develop performance measures for agency goals and objectives, supported by clear criteria. Then we facilitate an exercise to distill those performance measures down to a much smaller number of key performance indicators. Next we set up a framework for implementation and ongoing monitoring and reporting. Supporting organizations in setting up program monitoring structures has been rewarding. After engaging in a facilitated process of thoughtfully developing key performance indicators, and then monitoring those indicators over time, our clients have a clearer understanding of the saying, “What gets measured gets done”.

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