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Useful evaluation

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How evaluation can be a tool for improving services and your organisation, not just something you must comply with

Make the evaluation work for you and your service users

It is important for both you and the commissioner to make sure that the reporting you agree on is not just about compliance but about learning. This process of reflection should start during the planning phase and during needs analysis, while setting any outcomes framework and establishing baseline data. Monitoring and evaluation findings should feed in to planning for the next commissioning cycle and help to improve services, and can also help you change your organisation if necessary.

Link the evaluation to other important aspects of the service

Your organisation, commissioners or service users might also want to know:

  • whether the service provided value for money
  • whether outcomes were person-centred and focused on outcomes most important to users
  • evidence about what worked and what did not work
  • if the service is provided in partnership with other organisations, whether and how outcomes were produced using resources through a number of providers and through joint approaches in order to achieve impact
  • whether the service provided social value for the wider community
  • whether the service promoted equality and diversity.

Link to other evaluation methods and quality systems

In addition to methods described in this section, and our monitoring and evaluation section, there are some specific evaluation methodologies that are of use to the voluntary sector.

  • Quality assurance systems such as PQASSO are designed to help an organisation to improve its governance, management and performance all round, not just in relation to delivering contracts.
  • Social Return on Investment is a methodology for calculating the value that a service brings to society. It can go as far as estimating how much public money can be saved by an intervention, for example the impact on society of helping an ex-offender to gain employment and not re-offend.  
  • Theory of change is a useful way to think about, represent and communicate what your work is and what difference it seeks to make. Through a theory of change map and narrative you can describe how early changes relate to more intermediate changes and then to longer-term change. It can form the basis of strategic planning and, as a blueprint for the work ahead and its likely effects, it can be used for management and decision making as a project or programme develops and progresses. It can also reveal what should be evaluated, and when and how, so that project and programme managers can use feedback to adjust what they do and how they do it to achieve the best results. A theory of change methodology will also help to identify the way people, organisations and situations change as a result of an organisation’s activities or services, helping to develop models of good practice.

Resources

 

Page last edited Sep 11, 2017

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