An evaluation is the best way to determine if a program is achieving or achieved the desired outcomes within the scope of time, quality, and budget. Nevertheless, individuals and organizations find evaluation to be an intimidating process. Without the skills and tools for programs evaluation, you can rely on professional consultants for an objective assessment. This post provides critical insights on the objectives and types of program evaluations.
What is Program Evaluation?
Evaluation is a program management process involving collecting and analyzing information on the program's activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact. Program evaluation primarily helps improve the design and implementation phase of the project. Typically, project managers must assess the program activities periodically and adapt accordingly to achieve effectiveness and efficiency. Thus, program evaluation helps identify areas of improvement to achieve goals within the set program scope.
Program evaluation also helps to demonstrate whether a project is impactful in the short term or long run. In this case, program evaluation includes collecting information about the program's outputs, outcomes, and impacts. This analysis helps assess the program's success and report the results to internal and external stakeholders. Notably, a good program evaluation process must be customized, inclusive, objective, honest, and replicable.
Types of Program Evaluations
There are two broad categories of program evaluations, namely formative and summative. Essentially, formative program evaluation happens during the program's design, planning, and implementation stages. This evaluation category provides a direction of the best way to achieve and improve program goals.
The following are the two types of formative program evaluations:
- Needs assessment: When designing a program, one must understand the need in the market/community. A needs assessment establishes the prevailing need, the extent of need, and the best strategy for meeting the need. Besides, this evaluation helps identify the target audience and how best to serve their needs.
- Process/implementation evaluation: This program evaluation assesses the implementation process to determine if the program operates within the set parameters. For instance, the assessment can examine the participants reached and resource utilization. Usually, the process evaluation is a one-time or continuous assessment.
Summative evaluations occur at the end of the program implementation. These evaluations inform the stakeholders of the extent to which the program achieved the program's goals.
The following are the two types of summative program evaluations:
- Outcome evaluation: This evaluation measures whether the program is achieving desired outcomes. Typically, program outcomes can mean the observable changes among program participants directly attributed to the program interventions. For instance, are there changes in participants' skills, knowledge, and behavior?
- Impact evaluation: This summative evaluation examines the long-term changes occurring due to the program interventions. Essentially, these are the net effects felt at the community or societal level rather than the individual level. For example, is there enhanced quality of life, economic development, or environmental quality?
Program success is both an outcome and ingredient of effective evaluation. However, a proper program evaluation requires adequate planning and execution. Thus, you can hire experts to carry out the exercise if you lack the time, resources, and technical know-how.
For more information on program evaluation, contact a company like Research Analytics Consulting, LLC.