3.6. Evaluation plan
An evaluation plan should be developed at the beginning of your project based on your goals and objectives. It must be shared with all partners and contain the following information: why the evaluation is being carried out, its purpose, what will be evaluated, which aspects your organisation is interested in evaluating and against which objectives, what sources and indicators will be used, who will use the results of the evaluation process and what they will be used for.
In order to properly plan your project’s evaluation, make sure to follow the following steps:
Clearly define the objectives of the evaluation plan, which should align with the overall goals of the project. Specify the key aspects that will be assessed, such as project outcomes, impacts, efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.
Keep in mind that it is impossible to evaluate everything! Decisions about the themes or areas which are to be evaluated should be spread across the following broad categories:
- the processes of the project: activities, meetings, communications
- the ongoing project plans: the plans for dissemination, exploitation and sustainability
- the outputs of products: materials, website, learning platform, trainings, conferences
- the management and day-to-day operation of the project
- the “transnational element”: European added value
It is also important that some outcomes are included in the list. These might include:
- changes in thinking or behaviour of the target group(s)
- achievements of members of the target group(s)
- impact of the project on member institutions or organisations
- impact of the project on other institutions or organisations
- any broader impact on regional or national systems.
Generally, to develop precise and meaningful KPIs (key performance indicators), it is useful to follow the S.M.A.R.T. approach. This means that indicators you choose should be:
Specific: being clear about objectives and expectations is the first step towards reaching the final goal. This is why indicators should clearly define the goal and focus on the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of the intervention ‘how’ and ‘where’ the ‘who’ is doing the ‘what’.
Measurable: in addition to being specific in the objectives, you need to be able to quantify data or indicate where you are in relation to the objective to be achieved. It is therefore important that indicators you choose have the capacity to be counted and measured quantitatively and qualitatively.
Achievable: indicators must be achievable and realistic. The indicator is achievable if the performance target accurately specifies the amount or level of what is to be measured in order to meet your goal.
Relevant: indicators must be relevant to the objectives you want to achieve with your project.
Time-bound: indicators must be defined in a precise time frame. Without deadlines, no result can be planned.
Data Collection Methods
Describe the methods and sources that will be used to collect relevant data. This may include surveys, interviews, focus groups, site visits, document analysis, or data from existing sources. Consider the specific indicators and measures that will be used to assess project performance.
Data Analysis Techniques
Explain the analytical techniques that will be employed to analyse the collected data. This can include both qualitative and quantitative approaches. For qualitative data, describe how themes, patterns, or trends will be identified and analysed. For quantitative data, specify the statistical methods, such as regression analysis or simple descriptive statistics (averages, …), that will be used to analyse the data.
Data Management and Quality Assurance
Address how data will be managed, stored, and secured throughout the evaluation process. Discuss the steps that will be taken to ensure data quality, including data cleaning, verification, and validation. Outline any protocols that will be followed to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of data.
Reporting and Visualization
Explain how the evaluation findings will be reported and communicated. Describe the format of the evaluation report, including the structure, content, and visualisations that will be used to present the data analysis results. Consider using charts, graphs, and tables to effectively convey the findings.
Timing and Frequency
Specify the timeline and frequency of data collection and analysis. Identify the key evaluation milestones, including interim and final evaluation reports, and highlight the intervals at which progress will be assessed.
Discuss how stakeholders, such as project partners, beneficiaries, and relevant authorities, will be involved in the data analysis process. Address any plans for stakeholder consultations, workshops, or feedback mechanisms to gather additional insights.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Describe how the data analysis findings will be used to generate lessons learned and recommendations for project improvement. Emphasise the importance of using the evaluation results to inform decision-making and guide future actions.