Date: 29 April 2021

Format: Zoom

In April, the OPEN Forum – Strategies to embed evidence into an organisation’s practice – Getting started on the journey built on the conversation started in our March Forum, at which we explored in depth the evidence journey of Mission Australia and Family Life.

At our April OPEN Forum, we provided a panel discussion about the key lessons of getting started with embedding evidence from the perspectives of four experienced evidence practitioners within the sector. The discussion highlighted the different journeys, strategies and key lessons that can get your organisation started on the evidence journey. Speakers spoke from different positions, but all described using cost-efficient strategies to support the embedding of evidence into program, division, or organisational systems.

As such, the common key message running throughout the discussion was the importance of ‘everyday, real time’ evaluation as a first port of call to establish foundational evidence for tracking progress and improvement, before more high-end experimental testing maybe needed. 

Panel Moderator

  • David Poynter (General Manager Business Development & Research Based Programs Client Services, Anglicare)

Panel members

  • Dr Dave Vicary (Divisional Manager FACS and Head of Research Partnerships, Service & Operations – Baptcare)
  • Soo-Lin Quek (Executive Manager, Knowledge, Advocacy & Service Innovation – Centre for Multicultural Youth)
  • Dr Bengianni Pizzirani (Independent researcher)
  • Dr Mandy Charman (Manager, OPEN)

Key messages:

  • ‘Just get started, some evidence is better than no evidence’ – The evidence journey will be different for different organisations and needs to be tailored according to the context, but you can start from where you are with small and incremental steps.
  • Leadership is central to supporting the journey for embedding evidence throughout the organisation – Seek to engage leadership support or identify a leadership champion.
  • Everyday evaluation – Evaluative thinking embedded within program delivery- is about more than evidence. An evaluative lens, provides the tools to –
    • Define agreed outcomes and how the program/service will work,
    • Capture information through delivery and support reflective practice and timely improvements,
    • Help you communicate and demonstrate the difference you have made to others – including funders.
  • Monitoring data collected through delivery is a valuable and often under-utilised evidence source – Ensure systems are in place to get maximum value out of this source of evidence.
  • Building staff capability in evaluative thinking and routine data collection will pay dividends – These skills will improve your programs, delivery and your ability to collect evidence about client outcomes. This will reduce your reliance on expensive ‘external experts’.
  • Build staff buy-in to everyday evaluation – Enables them to get a better understanding what their work is achieving and engages them in the continuous improvement process – how they can achieve more for their clients.
  • Start building momentum – Work out who in your organisation already has evaluation skills, explore the evidence resources online (the OPEN portal provides many guides), reach out for help to OPEN for access to other help.

This is just a taster of some of the takeaway lessons – take a look at the full recording here:

Stay tuned for further OPEN Forums on this topic  and the release of new ‘Getting started on the Evidence Journey’ resources  on the OPEN portal – due for release in July.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you about where you are up to in this journey and how we can help.

If you missed our March OPEN Forum – Embedding Evidence into organisational practice – lessons from two organisations, you can find it here.

If you are interested in further resources about this topic, take a look at: